It's a comical "issue" film that Lee has made many times over; it's not essential viewing, especially when you consider his filmography or even the wider canon of great black films. Yet despite the fact that it virtually crumbles under the weight of its own embarrassing datedness, some of the themes still resonate. The taboo of the interracial love affair between Flipper Purify Wesley Snipes and Angie Tucci Annabella Sciorra might seem overblown in — above the Mason-Dixon Line, anyway — but it was Seneca levels of Roman tragedy in the late '80s to early '90s.
Jungle Fever was released in , just two years after Yusef Hawkins, who was black, was murdered by a mob of white teens because they believed he was dating a white girl in their Bensonhurst neighborhood. The movie also came two years after Denzel Washington reportedly had scenes removed from The Mighty Quinn during which he was having sex with Mimi Rogers, due to alleged protests from black women.
There are multiple scenes in Jungle Fever that address the fear from black women that black men will abandon them for lighter-skinned black woman before ultimately abandoning them for white women altogether, and, conversely, there are scenes from the Italian-American characters where both the n-word and the word moolie a ridiculous slur that I find hilarious in the Year of Our Lord are tossed around laissez-faire. The conceit of this film is such that two people are caught in the overreactions of their environments. Flipper and Angie are thrown together because Angie's father beats her like Spike Lee has only ever seen in The Godfather , and Flipper's wife throws his clothing out of the window in the middle of Harlem.
Lee is basically asking us: Can you blame them?
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And sure, there are some decent attempts at real conversations about colorism and interracial dating among black women and Italian men, but it all feels sort of like sifting through Twitter arguments. Lee's main problem, as with Chi-Raq , is that the subtext rapidly becomes the text. Everything in the film is spelled out for you, but no point is ever reached. Does Spike Lee think interracial romance is wrong?
Does he think we should just ignore it?
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They made records and seldom played outside Brussels or its environs. They disbanded in and Gomez began making his own albums most are killer and are now very collectible , often using former bandmates as session players. Later in the decade, other groups from the region began making Latin-style recordings and making some headway in sales and in the press. The group's producer, Roland Kluger , convinced all but Gomez to return and recorded the Jungle Fever LP, of which the title track was buried at the dead end of side two.
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Polydor nonetheless issued the cut as a single and the rest is history, except for one interesting fact: they understood the record would die if anybody knew this band was white. For an appearance at the Apollo, they hired a group of African-American men to impersonate the band on-stage.
Since no known photos of the real Chakachas existed, they were in the clear. The hit was a one-off, a fluke, but what a boon. It has had a steady life in the whisperings of DJs for the past three-plus decades and is oft-sampled in both dance music and hip-hop circles. As an album, Jungle Fever is a revelation. While their single is the stuff of legend, the album in some ways places it in its rightful place at the end of the disc.
Dusty Groove, with their impeccable good taste as both a record store and as a label, reissued this baby on CD and let the rest of us in on the secret. This is one wild, unusual, infectious set of Latin funk with killer horns that play against the rhythms, in some cases, and vocals that seemingly come from Latin music's past and are at odds with the more contemporary grooves being laid down by the band.
According to the liners, this is because of Will Albimoor , the group's arranger and new composer mostly under the nom de plume Bill Ador. Though some songs remain from the Gomez repertoire, they have been radically altered in terms of contrapuntal polyrhythms, strange key signatures, and weird fills by the horns, vocals, and piano. And there are mad loads of drums; they are everywhere, breaking, slipping, twisting, turning, spiking and hovering about these tunes. Checkout "Un Rayo del Sol," for the great drum breaks, or the smooth vocals with the razor wire electric guitars and horns in "Cha Ka Cha," with Sergio Mendes -like choruses blended with weird Latin soul cadences.
Then there's the tough, barroom cha cha of "Ay Mulata" and the seamless, nearly psychedelic mambo-meets-samba that is "El Canyon Rojo," with bits and pieces of a spaghetti western soundtrack thrown in just to stretch the listener's brain a little further.
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- Jungle Fever - Chakachas | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic.
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This disc is not some insider avant-garde joke; there is no irony here. The playing is sincere, innovative, and breaks an intentional sweat. It's no academic exercise made by studio hacks. It's as accessible an early Latin-styled funk recording as one is likely to find. It's only after repeated listens that the quark strangeness in its mix sets in, but that doesn't detract from the listening -- and dancing -- experience. There is also a beautiful cha cha reading of Earle Hagen 's classic standard "Harlem Nocturne" with a funky bassline and tight guitar break.
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Summer of ’ Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever - Slant Magazine
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