Various Artists – London Is The Place For Me 5 & 6 – Afro-Cubism, Highlife, Mento & Jazz – Honest Jon’s

If you’ve not yet discovered the delights of Honest Jon’s London Is The Place For Me series then it’s high time you started. Honest Jon’s take the listener back to the 1950s, when calypso and afro music were really beginning to make their mark in London through the likes of Lord Kitchener, Ambrose Campbell and Ginger Johnson, a favourite of the Rolling Stones. On this double disc compilation the songs are a delight from start to finish. Kitchener continues to charm with his stories of a fling on an ocean liner and a whole song devoted to umpiring decisions in the cricket (a must hear!). Elsewhere, though, the focus is often on rhythm, as in Buddy Pipp’s Highlifers and their descriptions of how to dance on ‘Cuban Nightingale’. Lord Invader comes over all amorous on ‘Goodwood Park’, while ‘Ghana Special’ and ‘Sway’ will induce a smile with ease. The presentation is faultless, with photos and booklet notes reflecting the mood of the day, while the music choices capture the exquisite blend of cheerfulness and good nature with a slight tinge of melancholy as the London underbelly occasionally makes itself known. Essential for musical historians, but fantastically uplifting and original at the same time.

5 out of 5

Reviewed By Ben Hogwood