Release Date: Apr 17, 2012
Record label: Strut
Genre(s): International, West African, African Traditions, Afro-Pop, Afro-beat, Highlife, Ghanaian
Unlike pop songs based on the Europe-derived rules of tonal music, Afro-beat doesn't typically move in a deliberate way from one place to another and then home again in a reasonably prescribed pattern of tension and release. Instead, it generally stays in a single place and dances there until it gets tired -- which can take anywhere from eight to 30 minutes. Nigerian legend Fela Kuti was the universally acknowledged Mozart of this approach: he would build a fearsome groove out of highly repetitive and mostly static harmonic materials, and then use it as an extended showcase for instrumental solos, wild dancing, and eye-poppingly bold political rants.
Ghana’s Ebo Taylor has been playing and recording music for decades, but his fame in the West has never quite matched that of his Nigerian contemporary, Fela Kuti. Like Kuti, Taylor plays a high-energy brand of polyrhythmic dance music that owes much to James Brown and much to African forms of pop music like highlife. Taylor’s songs are multilayered affairs, built up out of strands of percussion, throbbing basslines, keyboard and guitar flourishes, and horn accents.
A fine new studio set mixing traditional sounds and sturdy funk. Robin Denselow 2012 Ebo Taylor may be in his mid-70s, but the versatile guitarist, singer and songwriter is still one of the finest musicians in West Africa, covering Highlife to Afrobeat, jazz and traditional songs. Starting out in Ghana in the 1950s, he was influenced by Highlife pioneer E.T.
Despite attending the same London music school as Fela Kuti in the early 1960s, this is only the second international release from Ghanaian highlife guitarist Ebo Taylor. Now in his mid-70s, Taylor has had to wait to spread his name further afield. And so there is a sense of making up for lost time in this follow-up to 2010's Love And Death. That's not to say Taylor hasn't been prolific.