Agony Shorthand

Monday, March 24, 2003
GHANA SOUNDZ: AFRO-BEAT, FUNK AND FUSION IN 70's GHANA.....I boycotted the big African music whoop-dee-do the first go round, in the early 1980s when they tried pitching King Sunny Ade and Fela to new wavers and alternative types in the US and mostly failed. Now it's the British who seem to be going out and extracting the GOOD STUFF and are bringing it back to educate a new generation. Along with the terrific Ethiopiques series, this new compilation of unreleased recordings from 70's Ghana is the best Afro-funk I've heard -- as "funky" and as HARD as The Meters or Maceo Parker, but in some ways even better -- or "differently abled", perhaps. You might even think that some of the tracks were laid down in 1973 Chicago or Philadelphia, not in, not in......hey, what's the capital of Ghana again? The hardcore syncopation in the background should be a dead giveaway, but a lot of these guys sing or shout in English, so if they'd thrown one or two on "The Get It" or some other killer US comp I'd never have known. Anyway, the ringers on this one start up around track #4, "Heaven" by Ebo Taylor and track #5, "Simigwado" by Gyedu Blay Ambolley & The Steneboofs (not making this up, folks) and continue pumping and jumping from there. It's really something -- a sweat-soaked, percussion-driven, heavy bass bunch of dynamos, many over 7-8 minutes long. And this is the unreleased stuff; so what about these guys' legit recordings? A big winner from England's Soundway Records and kudos to TA for turning me on to "GHANA SOUNDZ".