Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band ‘Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band’ (Strut) LP/CD/Dig (4/5)

pat-thomasGhanaian highlife singer Pat Thomas is something of a musical institution in his native land and in neighbouring Nigeria. However, it has been thanks to a series of re-issue albums and compilations in the UK (Mr Bongo, Soundway) that his name become more familiar on these shores and this brand new release builds upon that burgeoning reputation. Indeed he is referred to as ‘The golden voice of Africa’ and on the basis of this excellent new offering few would argue against that with a reworking of some of Thomas’ 1980s classics, recorded this time round in Accra with a full band for good measure and an analogue sound. Unlike Afro-Beat, the grooves are that bit more relaxed and subtle in highlife, though still ideal for dance music purposes. A strong contender for the album’s best number is the infectious melodicism of ‘Odoo be ba’ with lovely organ and guitar riff, while dancefloor heaven may just have been attained on the driving bass, percussion and organ of ‘Oye Asem’. The uplifting groove of ‘Odo Adada’ features joint lead vocal harmonies while there are some delicate guitar riffs on ‘Gyae Su’. A retro feel is created complete with electric piano on ‘Me no Asem’ that is notable also for its bubbly percussion and collective horns. Strut are to be commended for their open-minded approach to dance music across the board and this latest release will only serve to widen the label’s appeal to a whole new audience. Pat Thomas and the band will perform at the Rich Mix in London on Friday 2 October. Destined to be an early autumn highlight.

Tim Stenhouse