Various ‘Afrobeat Airways 2. Return flight to Ghana 1974-1983’ 2LP/CD/Digital (Analog Africa) 4/5

Continuing the series of unearthing the most obscure of African sounds, label founder Samy Ben Redjeb has once more discovered some fascinating and dance floor oriented grooves that effortlessly straddle musical boundaries and include genres as disparate as highlife, funk and disco. One of the more immediate numbers is ‘Aja wondo’ by Uppers International, a group who have featured on other compilations of Ghanian music, notably Soundways’ fine ‘Ghana Special’. Here traditional highlife meets funk head on with some hypnotic psychedelic wah-wah guitar and a typically 1970s keyboard solo halfway through proceedings. Funk fans will want to check out the instrumental piece ‘I beg’ by Tony Sarfo and the Funky Afrosibi that has a decidedly rustic tone with the influence of James Brown subtly incorporated, but by no means overbearing. More lilting highlife influences are discernible on K. Frimpong’s ‘Abrabo’ and equally on Ebo Taylor’s ‘Children don’t cry’ which is a particular favourite of this writer, distinguishable by its immediate uptempo beat complete with horn solos, and it is a full three minutes before Taylor enters with his distinctive vocals. A successful fusion of highlife with Afro-Beat (Ghana and Nigeria are after all close neighbours) is to be heard on the African Brothers’ ‘Wope me a ka’ while devotees of disco who are looking for something a tad more exotic will be attracted to the thrusting beat of ‘Loose up yourself’ by the un-Ghanaian sounding Rob. If not quite as panoramic in its range of styles as other such compilations, this is nonetheless a fine medium with which to investigate Ghanaian music in the 1970s and the quality of the sound recording is consistently excellent. Tim Stenhouse

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.