August 06, 2013

Osibisa – Joyful Music

Osibisa hails from West Africa, specifically Ghana but they started recording in London in the late 1960's. The band was a bit of a sensation in the mid 70s and their popularity continues today, even though you've probably never heard of them.

They've been labelled World Music, AfroPop, Highlife, but I would call them jazz/funk due to their incredible rhythms and sensational horn solos including flute, flugelhorn and trumpet, along with an amazing percussions and drum beat. But that label doesn't really describe the extent of all the bases they touch.

The band features a flying elephant(s) on the cover of their first two albums, which may have been the reason why I was curious enough to buy both albums out of the bargain bin at Kmart many years ago. I've found a lot of treasures in those clearance tables and this band is at the top of that list.

Osibisa's music is very intoxicating, and filled with happiness and joy. Their guitars, drums, horns and percussions work in perfect harmony to create music that is an amazing amalgamation of rhythm & blues and rock & roll to an African drum beat with a strong bass line that keeps the music thumping along.

Most of their songs are funky instrumentals, but they do some vocals, such as Woyaya, which has been covered by diverse artists including Art Garfunkel, The 5th Dimension and Book of Love. It's a joyful song of hope and determination and one of their best.

A lot of their song titles are going to look strange to our Western eyes — Akwaaba, Ayiko Biya, Kokorokoo — but don't let that bother you, every song is hot and definitely won't disappoint. My favorite tune is Y Sharp from their 2nd album, Woyaya, released in 1971. What can I say, best for you to listen to this tune yourself.

This live performance combines two Osibisa tunes, Y Sharp and Beautiful Seven. Enjoy!

You can check out more Osibisa performances on You Tube. What are you waiting for??


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