The word classic is used way too liberally these days, sometimes getting slapped on brand new tracks - as in "instant classic" - but no one will dispute the status of the psychedelic soul track I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun from Hey Love (1971), the very last album by American band Rotary Connection.
Little Louis Vega and Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez, the New York DJs/producers otherwise known as Masters At Work gave it a groovy makeover in 1997 on Nu Yorican Soul, and now Ethiopian artist Samuel Yirga infuses it with some great jazz piano, tight orchestration and soulful spirituality.
It's one of three tracks put out to promote Guzo, which comes out on the 9th of July, and this cover version is being pushed as the first single - indeed, it's available right now via the Womad shop, Soundcloud and iTunes. You can understand why, but we're actually pretty stoked by the other two more heavily Ethio-flavoured tracks, especially The Blues of Wallo (Dessye Mix).
But whatever the track - and there are samples from all the album's tracks here and here - you listen and understand why he's being hailed as one of Ethiopia's most promising young musicians and composers. Astonishing that he's only been playing for 8 years.
Soulfulness and powerful vocal harmonies on I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun are provided by The Creole Choir of Cuba, a Cuban choir whose songs go back to their Haitian roots, guest vocalists Mel Gara, a British singer whose origins are in Iraq, and Nigerian-British singer Nicolette (Nicolette Suwoton), famous for her collaborations with Massive Attack. And the lovely brass arrangement is by the mighty Horns of Negus.
This is going to be an album to buy.