A few years back, label owner Samy Ben Redjeb met producer Dick Essilfie-Bonzie, label owner of Essiebons Records, the most important independent label in Ghana and discovered how they just mastered their collection into 8 cds of material containing 800 songs. Immediately he was amazed by some unreleased tracks by Apagya Show Band and Orchestre Abass. December 2008 and may of 2010 Samy decided to finish and complete a compilation like a historical conquest, meeting the founder of the African Brothers Band, the lead singer of Vis-a-Vis, Ghanian funk man Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, saxophonist Ray Allen, the lead singer of the Uppers International for interviews and compile a lot more photographs and cover scans. My own promo copy misses the result of 44 pages but I do have all the music, which of course is compiled once more with as much perfection and dedication as before.
Most tracks, in the largest early part shows a rather fast, danceable creative afro-beat style which is faster than usual and with a lot of complex and different elements like polyrhythmic arrangements, some of it on cow bell, (the last ones also with drums), psychedelic, rocking or for the later tracks funky electric guitar, psych organ (for the largest part of the collection), brass arrangements, distinctive and convincing funky elements, occasional wahwah and even Moog (on track 12) and a few sax solos, and songs with Afro-English lyrics. The mixture of repetition with polyrhythmic complexity and all the different style elements with attractive songs (especially on the last part of the compilation) has something somewhat different from the surrounding countries, although one can notice its influence and place amongst the better known examples from for instance creative Nigeria and see its own distinctive importance, which finally will get notice thanks to this compilation of this great dedicated label with love for music.
Analogue Africa V.A.: Afrobeat Airways 2 :
return flight to Ghana 1974-1983 (GH,comp.2013)****
The label Analogue Africa always succeeded in making the idea of collecting albums much more interesting than simply providing materials to collect. With its impressive book-like documents even collecting cd’s become again something like collecting art, like enriching a library or like retrieving a piece of the puzzle of history.
Ghana has some different styles of influences that range from soul, funk to afro-beat with some Latin influences. In this collection, which contains mainly tracks with a song context, nearly all of these tracks have a comparable influence with here and there a bit more funk dominating, occasionally with a soulful, and even one religiously inspired song (by Complex Soundz). The afro-beat is always present in its core, being enriched with funky elements, with some minor wah-wah guitar effects and also with some rhythmical organ accents, here and there some organ solos, and there is also always an interesting use of poly-rhythms. The African Brothers track for instance is an extremely fast samba with a complex rhythm, while the song itself is slower. The afro-beat foundation is never is too far away and still dominates graciously over the funk elements. The track from De Frank & His Professionals has such a happy vibe and inflicting rhythm, I can hardly remain stagnant on my chair. This could lead anyone towards the dance floor. A few previously featured artists by the label like Rob or Ebo Taylor can be found with previously unreleased tracks a well.
This second volume had taken three years in the making. I only saw the preview copy for now, but I read that the final edition will feature an accompanying 44-page booklet with an introductory essay (by editor Banning Eyre) about the development of soul, funk and afrobeat during the '60s and '70s in Ghana. There will also be some appropriate interviews and biographies of the artists/producers involved. Like any record from the label: recommended.