Compiled from obscure 45s and albums, Ghana Soundz is the first of a three-volume series that will most definitely put Ghanaian funk on the map.Some of it is truly fabulous, like tracks by the Sweet Talks, the Ogyatanaa Show Band, and the Apagya Show Band, all of which do funk in the Afro-beat mold of interlocking parts over an infectious rhythm, giving room for improvisation.Others, like Oscar Sulley & the Uhuru Dance Band, take more of a jazz tack.
Truth to tell, there's not a single bad track here, although the political consciousness that was an integral part of Fela's Afro-beat is largely missing here, with the major exception of the African Brothers' lengthy and steaming "Self Reliance," which builds relentlessly before exploding into a strange synthesizer solo.
With some remarkable music that covers such a wide range -- and with the highlife influence fairly well hidden throughout in favor of a more Americanized African model -- this is a find indeed.
ENGLISH God bless our homeland Ghana And make our nation great and strong, Bold to defend forever The cause of Freedom and of Right; Fill our hearts with true humility, Make us cherish fearless honesty, And help us to resist oppressors' rule With all our will and might for evermore Second stanza Hail to thy name, O Ghana, To thee we make our solemn vow: Steadfast to build together A nation strong in Unity; With our gifts of mind and strength of arm, Whether night or day, in the midst of storm, In every need, whate'er the call may be, To serve thee, Ghana, now and evermore.
Formed in 1962 as a result of the big band highlife boom instigated by E. Mensah, the Ramblers were one of Ghana’s most popular touring and recording groups throughout the 60s and 70s. Formed in 1962 as a result of the big band highlife boom instigated by E. Mensah, the Ramblers were one of Ghana’s most popular touring and recording groups throughout the 60s and 70s.
Under the leadership of tenor saxophonist/arranger Jerry Hansen they developed a highly individual style, featuring two lead vocalists singing in close harmony over a lush 15-piece orchestral backing, mixing highlife with soul and Latin material.
By the end of the 60s they had won large followings in neighbouring Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.
During the 70s, they were the featured house band at the dancehall operated by leading Accra hotel The Ambassador.
By the mid-70s the market for big band highlife was fast diminishing, although the band managed to scrape a living until the early 80s, when they finally broke up. Sadly, his move meant that when the big band highlife revival occurred in the mid-80s, the group - lacking an effective alternative leader - were unable to make a successful comeback.
In 1986, vocalist Charles Kodjo emigrated to London, where he joined Hi-Life International.
The Ramblers reconvened in 1990, now under the leadership of Jerry Junior, releasing a comeback collection, Giants Of Dance Band Highlife, for USA label Original Music the following year.
Ghana was one of the centers of the music called highlife, but the Afro-beat and funk that came out of the country in the 1970s, in the wake of Fela Kuti's musical success in Nigeria, has largely gone undocumented -- until now.