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Geraldo Pino & the Heartbeats
The long-lost hero of Afro Soul Funk

Geraldo Pino (aka Gerald Pine) is one of the hidden heroes of African popular music. A singer, guitarist and bandleader from Sierra Leone, Geraldo had a major influence on the burgeoning soul/funk/Afrobeat scene in West Africa during the 1960s and 70s. He made a huge impression on the young Fela Kuti who praised him effusively but his music has remained largely unheard for the past 30 years.

Pino’s proto-Afrobeat echoed the cultural preoccupations of the time – Black Power, African Unity, Heavy Vibes.

Gerald Pine formed the Heartbeats in Freetown in 1960/61 as a pop band playing cover versions of British and American hit songs, although they soon adapted to the influence of pachanga, tcha tcha tcha and rumba music from the Congo, notably that international blend supplied by Ryco Jazz (see RETRO10CD) who were touring the West Africa region. As the latin influences grew, so Gerald Pine evolved into the more exotic sounding Geraldo Pino, although it was as a champion of American style funk that he made his mark. Pino made a deep and lasting impression on that iconoclastic figure Fela Anikulapo Kuti (then still known by his family name of Ransome Kuti). As Fela told the author Carlos Moore in his 1982 biography:

"I was playing highlife jazz when Geraldo Pino came to town in '66 or a bit earlier with soul. That's what upset everything, man. He came to town with James Brown's music, singing, "Hey, hey, I feel all right, ta, ta, ta, ta. . . " And with such equipment you've never seen, man. This man was tearing Lagos to pieces. Wooooooooh, man. He had all Nigeria in his pocket. Made me fall right on my ass, man. Ahhhhhh, this Sierra Leonean guy was too much. Geraldo Pino from Sierra Leone. I'll never forget him. I never heard this kind of music before-o, I'm telling you. Only when I went to Ghana shortly after that did I hear music like that again, soul music. Shit! If you could have seen him, man. And his equipment . . . something else!

Pino’s party grooves and the Funk Imperative which underlines his musical philosophy make these dance tracks sound just as vital today as they did back then.


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