Ghanaian music legend Ebo Taylor returns with perhaps his finest album to
date. But don’t take our word for it. That’s coming straight from the man
himself, and he should know after more than 60 years in the business!
The 81-year-old composer, arranger, guitarist and vocalist has been a key
figure in the evolving afro-funk sound since the Seventies, working with the
likes of Apagya Show Band, CK Mann and Pat Thomas. Famously, he rubbed
shoulders with Fela Kuti while studying in London in the Sixties, before going
on to lead the Ghana Black Star Band (featuring Osei and Sol Amarfio from
Osibisa) and later the Uhuru Dance Band back in Ghana.
Like Fela, he is always pushing forward, constantly reconceptualising his sound
and attuning it for a new generation. Part teacher, part messenger, listen to Yen
Ara and you will not only hear the high-energy afrobeat, sweet highlife, jazz
and konkoma influences that he’s famous for, but also a disco pulse and hardhitting
percussive edge to the tracks, which were produced by Justin Adams
(Tinariwen, Rachid Taha, Robert Plant) and recorded in the live room at Electric
Monkey Studio in Amsterdam.
His group, the Saltpond City Band, are all handpicked local musicians featuring
two of his sons. An appropriate line-up on an album whose titles means
“we”. And they are on fine form, ripping through tracks such as ‘Krumandey’
(a surefire party starter) and ‘Mind Your Own Business’ (a simple message
delivered over a frenetic drum rhythm).
Elsewhere, ‘Aboa Kyirbin’ will please fans of tough afrobeat grooves, while
Taylor could well be inciting a riot at his next gig with ‘Mumudey Mumudey’,
We hear him calling for ‘preshaaah’ and leading us into a call and response as
the trumpet takes us higher. And the lift of those horns on ‘Ankoma’m’ evokes
some of his finest work such as ‘Love & Death’ and ‘Come Along’, the latter
recorded with the Pelikans and featured on a recent Mr Bongo reissue.
Poverty No Good / Mumudey Mumudey / Krumandey / Aboa Kyirbin /
Mind Your Own Business / Ankoma’m / Abenkwan Puchaa / Yen Ara / Aba Yaa
Mr Bongo MRBLP155