Exuma


(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Exuma (1970), 7/10
Exuma II (1970), 6.5/10
Do Wah Nanny (1971), 5/10
Snake (1972), 5/10
Reincarnation (1972), 5/10
Life (1973), 4/10
Street Music (1979), 6/10
Penny Sausage (1979), 5/10
Universal (1982), 5/10
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Singer-songwriter and guitarist Macfarlane "Tony" Mackey was born in the Bahamas in 1942 but moved to New York to study architecture. He soon began to play in the cafes popular with folksingers of the Greenwich Movement, and released the singles Ten Past Twelve Cinderella Blues / Riddle Rhyme Song (1963), Nobody's Perfect / Detroit (1965) and Island Hog / The Ticking Of The Clock (1967).

Exuma (Mercury, 1970) introduced his mix of reggae, calypso, and pop, permeated by the Bahamian "junkanoo", a rhythm that was traditionally played on goatskin drums, cowbells, bicycle horns and whistles but that his band recast on guitar, keyboards and drums. Mackey is a fiery street folksinger paraphrasing black shouters in Exuma The Obeah Man, like David Peel imitating Wilson Pickett, while the band simply strums and beats its instruments for percussive purposes. Mama Loi Papa Loi is another passionate quasi-gospel street shout amid a jungle of percussive sounds. Junkanoo adds an harmonica to the mayhem of bells, drums, congas and whistles. The solemn chant You Don't Know What's Going On rides a rhythm that sounds like prancing country-rock.

Exuma II (1970) contains the insanely energetic singalong Damn Fool the passionate soul elegy Baal the feverish gospel-like Fire In The Hole the fragile lullaby A Place Called Earth the hypnotic bluesy We Got To Go and the catchy, loose, chaotic dance Zandoo, frequently pitting his raspy wailing against a stately choir.

Do Wah Nanny (Kama Sutra, 1971) contains the hit Do Wah Nanny, their most melodic number yet, with the backing of a horn section, and the apocalyptic ballad 22nd Century, but only Roweena matches the exuberance of the first two albums.

Snake (Kama Sutra, 1972), Reincarnation (Kama Sutra, 1972) and Life (Kama Sutra, 1973) continued his pioneering world-music mission with less inspiration. McKay's estranged wife and their first son were murdered in 1972.

After playing the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1978, Mackey relocated Exuma there and drafted his Bahamian friend Teddy "Josiah" Kinlock as well as a rotating cast of New Orleans musicians. Exuma's late-night show at the Old Absinthe Bar in the French Quarter became legendary. Each of these LPs had a ballad that scored a huge success in the Bahamas, "Rose Maty Smith" on Universal and "Shirlene" on Street Life.

Street Music (Nassau, 1979), reissued as Rude Boy (ROIR, 1986), is a reggae album that marked a return to form thanks to the catchy anthem Rudeboy, the slow singalong Clean On The Outside Dirty On The Inside, the lazy ditty Fishing On The Rock, the festive lullaby Dready, and the feverish soca dance Bite Me On My Belly, although the hit was the lame pop-soul torch ballad Shirlene.

Penny Sausage (Inagua, 1979) was recorded with of 21 musicians and 17 backing vocalists. The various Penny Sausage and Black Hawk sound like impeccable imitations of classic Exuma. Nothing new, but nothing wrong either.

After Universal (Cat Island, 1982), whose highlight is another lively dance, Guy Fawkes, he suffered a heart attack that ended his recording career.

He left New Orleans and spent the rest of his years between Miami and Nassau. Exuma died in the Bahamas in january 1997.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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