Strut re-visit the comeback studio album by one of the true greats of Ghanaian music, Ebo Taylor. Originally released in October 2010, ‘Love And Death’ was recorded with the Berlin-based Afrobeat Academy band featuring members of Poets Of Rhythm, Kabu Kabu (Jimi Tenor collaborators) and Ghanaian legends Marijata and represented his first ever internationally released album.
Following the wartime big band highlife pioneers like E.T. Mensah, Ebo Taylor became a major figure in Ghanaian highlife during the 1950s and ’60s as highlife exploded. Cutting his teeth with leading big bands like Stargazers and Broadway Dance Band, he quickly rose through the ranks and became a prolific composer and frontman. Taylor moved to London in 1962 to study: “I had the Black Star Highlife Band sponsored by the Ghanaian High Commission, mainly comprising music students. We tried to incorporate jazz into highlife and progressed through talking and through jam sessions, trying to develop our skills and ideas.”
Back in Ghana, Taylor became an in-house arranger and producer for labels like Essiebons, working and writing for other leading Ghanaian stars including C.K. Mann and Pat Thomas.
“I was paid to write for them and we made some great records. People were trying new things – I always loved C.K. Mann’s ’Funky Highlife’. It was fresh.“ Through the mid-‘70s and into the ‘80s, Taylor then recorded a number of solo projects, exploring unique fusions and borrowing elements from traditional Ghanaian sounds, Fela’s Afrobeat, jazz, soul and funk. Tracks like ‘Heaven’ now stand among the best Ghanaian Afrobeat of the era.
Aged 74 when he recorded this album, Taylor’s music had become increasingly in-demand with a series of Ghanaian compilations on Soundway Records and Analog Africa and an unexpected sample as Usher lifted a riff from ‘Heaven’ for his hit with Ludacris, ‘She Don’t Know’. A new Ebo Taylor album was a natural progression. “On this album, I wanted to advance the cause of Afrobeat music. Fela started it and we shouldn’t just abandon it. We should push it so it is a standard form of music.“ Tracks include new versions of Taylor classics ‘Victory’ and ‘Love And Death’ and a selection of new compositions including ‘Kwame’, celebrating Ghana’s late, lamented leader Kwame Nkrumah.
Ebo Taylor’s ‘Love And Death’ is re-released in its original 2LP format.
A1. Nga Nga
A2. African Woman
B1. Love And Death
D1. Aborekyair Aba