Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tribute To D.K. at Bentleyfunk

I would like to direct you to the blog "Bentleyfunk," which recently posted a copy of the African Brothers' album Tribute to D.K last week. This album has been on my mind recently, and I figured many readers might not be aware of its availability online. Founder of such Ghanaian record labels as Obobua, Aduana, and Happy Bird, D.K. Nyarko served as the producer of the African Brothers Band starting in 1967. This album was recorded after Mr. Nyarko's death, and features four subdued & emotional songs dedicated to him. Of particular note is the deep "Kyeremirekuku" and an unusual rendition of a traditional flute dirge played on the organ at the beginning of the third tack. Please enjoy this absolutely wonderful album.

African Brothers Band - Ma Me Nsu Ma Wo

D.K. Nyarko

Update: As Moos has kindly pointed out, the blog Bentleyfunk seems to no longer exist. I've uploaded the original download from this now defunct blog.  Download Tribute to D.K.  HERE.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Opambuo Internationals - Show Me your Love (1981)

Lately I just can't get enough of this "Nigerian-ized" Ghanaian highlife music.  Many great highlife albums were recorded in the 1970s and '80s by Ghanaian bands either living in Nigeria (such as Okukuseku) or aiming to target West African markets outside of Ghana.  The music that these types of groups created has a particular feel and sound; it is practically unique enough to be categorized within its own genre.  Rhythms, guitar riffs, and melodies reflect influences from within, as well as outside of Ghana.  At the same time, many songs are sung in Pidgin English in addition to local Ghanaian languages (like the title track on this album).  In this way songs were made intelligible to Nigerian listeners. 

The guitar riff on this track just kills me!
Opambuo Internationals - Hu Anim Ase Nkyene

Enjoy this album by the Opambuo Internationals, 
lead by Nana Agyeman Opambuo

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Ogyatanaa Show Band - Yerefrefre (1975)

Hello there! I apologize for the long gaps between posts around here lately.  To make up for this, I offer one of my favorite highlife albums, Ogyatanaa's Yerefrefre (this record also might just have one of the best covers ever!). 

The Ogyatanaa (or "burning torch") Show Band was founded in 1971 by Kwadwo Donkoh, a former diplomat turned highlife musician and record producer.  I don't have much information about Donkoh, yet I consider him one of the big names in Ghanaian highlife, a behind-the-scenes figure and master arranger/composer.  In addition to his work with Ogyatanaa, Donkoh founded Agoro records in the early 1970s.  Agoro released diverse popular and traditional records, and later it would introduce the first albums by Ga cultural groups like Wulomei.

On this first album by the Ogyatanaa Show Band, we have classic tracks like "Mmobrowa" and a funky "Yaa Amponsah," yet my absolute favorite here is the "Yerefrefre" medley on side one, a twenty minute long track which pays tribute to Ghana's highlife greats.  Musicians like E.K. Nyame, C.K. Mann, King Onyina, E.T. Mensah, Nana Ampadu, and K. Gyasi are acknowledged, while hit songs by these artists are also "quoted" throughout the medley.  The group switches rapidly between songs, offering snippets of such tunes as E.T. Mensah's "All for you" and the Black Beats' "Lai momo."

See how many songs you can identify!

On March 6, 1957 Kwame Nkrumah announced Ghana's independence at the stroke of midnight.
Happy Independence Day, Ghana!