Various Artists – Afro-Beat Airways 2 (Analog Africa)
The Analog Africa label has scoured Ghana looking for rare tracks for the ‘Afro-beat Airways’ series. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates books his flight.
If only we had listened to Afrobeat in the 70s, we might have avoided the takeover of disco in the music industry and may not have had to endure the unbelievably overrated Daft Punk album this year.
If only we’d listened to Ghana we may have never been subjected to the dreaded vocoder and ‘poom poom’ sounds backing that same old drumbeat again.
If only we had bothered to discover that incredible mix of funk, soul and psychedelia coming from West Africa then the nation’s youth may not have had to invent punk to destroy the crass rubbish that was invading our lives. Oh, well maybe disco was good for something?
‘Afro-Beat Airways 2’ follows the success of the first volume four years ago and brings together rare Ghanaian tracks recorded between 1974 and 1983. If the tracks haven’t been remastered then the superb quality of the sound is even more remarkable. There are legendary artists like K. Frimpong and Complex Soundz here (do yourself a favour and look them up) and more obscure performers like De Frank & His Professionals who give their own brand of funk and whose ‘Waiting For My Baby’ sounds like a classic soul track that you’ve heard before.
There are definite, unsurprisingly similar sounding sounds to James Brown, particularly on ‘Do Your Own Thing’ by De Frank’s Band and the near funky drummer loop of ‘Wope Me A Ka’ by The African Brothers. The obvious influence of Fela Kuti is also clearly prominent.
There are hints of The Doors’ psychedelic sound throughout the collection and mixed with the funk and soul threads it makes for a truly memorable listen. ‘I Beg’ by Tony Sarfo & The Funky Afrosibi is an instrumental that could quite easily have influenced a million twelve inch remixes and album opener by Uppers International, ‘Aja Wondo’, with its Islamic influence, is as good as it gets.
If you’re still unfamiliar with the sounds of Africa, then this album is a perfect way to get acquainted in conjunction with the brilliant 44 page accompanying booklet.
Don’t wait too late to jump on the bandwagon, board the plane now.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found here. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog. Paul is working hard to save Radio Lancashire’s On The Wire, the BBCs longest running alternative music programme. Follow him on twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news or follow hiapop Blog on Twitter, @hiapop.