Though little known in their native U.S., the Parisian-based Lafayette Afro Rock Band was among the premier funk outfits of the 1970s, later becoming a seemingly endless source of samples and breaks for artists from Public Enemy to Janet Jackson. The group was formed on Long Island, NY as the Bobby Boy Congress; deciding America was already overloaded with funk acts, in 1971 they relocated to France, but when frontman Bobby Boy returned stateside the remaining members -- guitarist Larry Jones, bassist Lafayette Hudson, keyboardist Frank Abel, horn players Ronnie James Buttacavoli and Arthur Young, drummer Ernest "Donny" Donable and percussionists Keno Speller and Arthur Young -- renamed themselves Ice and became the house session band at producer Pierre Jaubert's Parisound studio. Regularly performing live in Paris' Barbesse district -- an area made up primarily of African immigrants -- Ice's driving funk became increasingly influenced by African rhythms and textures, and in the wake of their 1973 debut LP Each Man Makes His Own Destiny, Jaubert changed the group's name to the Lafayette Afro Rock Band.
Guitarist Michael McEwan replaced Jones in time to record 1974's Soul Makossa (issued in the U.S. as Movin' & Groovin'), highlighted by the oft-covered and much-sampled "Hihache"; the follow-up, Malik, featured the cut "Darkest Night," its desolate saxophone intro later sampled for use by Public Enemy for the It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back track "Show 'Em Whatcha Got" in addition to providing the foundation for Wreckx 'N' Effect's "Rump Shaker" and Tuff Crew's "Nut." Also in 1975, the Lafayette Afro Rock Band backed jazz pianist Mal Waldron on his unreleased Candy Girl album; the year following, they collaborated with expatriate bluesman Sunnyland Slim on his album Depression Blues. With 1976's Frisco Disco, the group reverted to the Ice moniker; concurrently, working under the alias Captain Dax, they scored a novelty hit in Japan with the single "Dr. Beezar, Soul Frankenstein." Afro Agban followed in 1978, while as Crispy and Co., the band resurfaced that same year with Funky Flavored before returning to America and disbanding. [AMG Jason Ankeny]