Here’s a band that you have never heard of but that has a catalog of songs that will sound all too familiar. Lafayette Afro-Rock Band recorded two records in 1974 and 1975 and then disappeared. However, their tight, funk grooves have lived on in hip-hop samples. On Darkest Light you can finally hear the source of beats and grooves that have been mined by Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Jay-Z and countless others.
Clearly you’ll recognize the beats from “Voodounon,” “Malik” and especially the epic “Soul Makossa,” with its eternally cool horn line. But all fifteen tracks are burners, and ripe for the picking. In addition to the cream of the band’s official releases, there is also the hot hot “There’s Time to Change,” recorded in an earlier incarnation, Ice. Also, there are a couple of tunes they released in Japan under the monikers Crispy & Co. and Captain Dax. Whatever the name, the horn section is hammerhead sharp, the bottom is murky and the riffs almost laughably groove-y. There is not a bad cut here.
Darkest Light, like other recent releases resurrecting obscure funk bands like Wicked Witch, is a godsend to those looking to fill in the gaps in the pantheon. The early ’70s was not all James, Isaac and Curtis. Lafayette Afro-Rock Band is one of the hottest, funkiest bands long overdue for props, but there are probably more out there.