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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

CULT CARGO: BELIZE CITY BOIL UP

By Tom Pryor
Published September 23, 2005

Numero Uno

Belize has long been one of the harder countries for world music fans to get a handle on. The tiny Central American nation simply doesn’t have the population to sustain a major recording industry, so aside from the occasional folkloric collection, Andy Palacio album or Stone Tree records compilation, Belizean music remains frustratingly scarce, and that’s a shame considering Belize’s rich multicultural heritage, where Mayans, Creoles, Afro-indigenous Garufina and even German Mennonites all live side by side. But this new collection goes a long way towards filling in the gaps of the local Belize music scene in the ’60s and ’70s. As befits this polyglot nation, the album is quite literally a “boil up” (the ubiquitous one-pot stew that serves as Belize’s national dish) of diverse musical styles, from rough-hewn reggae to homegrown R&B to “brukdown,” a rough and ready “breakdown” of Trinidadian calypso. While most of these styles are imported, the talent and sensibility is local, and artists like Lord Rhaburn, the Professionals and the Harmonettes put a raw Belizian spin on tracks like “Disco Connection,” “The Back Stabbers” and “Theme From The Godfather.”