Osibisa membership came from countries with West Africa and Caribbean heritage, their music was a hybrid, including fusion and prog.
Written by: Eric
SERIAL: MDKS 8001
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Teddy Osei – vocals, tenor sax, flute, african drums * Sol Amarfio – drums * Mac Tontoh – trumpet, flugelhorn, kabasa * Spartacus – bass, percussion * Wendell Richardson – lead guitar, vocals * Robert Baily – organ, piano, timbales * Loughty Lasisi Amao – tenor and baritone sax, congas
TRACK LISTING: 01 Dawn * 02 Music For Gong Gong * 03 Ayiko Bia * 04 Akwaaba * 05 Oranges * 06 Phallus C * 07 Think About The People
WEBLINKS: Site Link
There’s not a whole lot of Prog or Psych that’s come out of Africa although most of what we’ve seen has come from South Africa (Circus, Canamii, Wildebeest, McCully Workshop, Hawk, Freedoms Children etc.) more than likely due to that nation’s Dutch and British ties and cultural influences.
Osibisa were London based but its members came from several different countries including Ghana and Nigeria as well as the Caribbean islands of Trinidad, Antigua and Grenada. Their music was influenced by the 1950’s and 60’s Western African movement called ‘Highlife’ which combined Western Jazz, Blues and Pop with African rhythms. Osibisa took that sound a step further by introducing ‘Bitches Brew’ styled Fusion and English Prog to their colorful cocktail of sound and were highly successful.
Adorned in one of Roger Dean’s best and well-known sleeves, the Osibisa debut is not their finest moment but it was a groundbreaking album that pointed the way to the future ‘World Music’ movement championed by Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads and Paul Simon‘s award winning ‘Graceland’ in the 1980’s. Shades of Santana envelope opener ‘Dawn’ and from here on in the ever present African percussion will get your feet tapping that’s for certain as this is truly bright and happy music!
I really like the Tower of Power styled brass on ‘Music For Gong Gong’ and although there’s occasional singing as on ‘Aykio Bio’, it’s mostly in African and all in good fun unless language is a barrier and for this reviewer, it’s not a problem. For my money the funky instrumental ‘Oranges’ is the best track here while closer ‘Think About The People’, the only tune sung in English is a protest song, very late 60’s and sounding a lot like ‘The World Is A Ghetto’ era War.
Osibisa took to the road in 1971 in both the UK and Europe appearing with a crazy range of acts including Ginger Baker’s Air Force, Budgie, The Groundhogs, Genesis, East of Eden, Edgar Broughton Band and even The Rolling Stones as well as a successful tour of the U.S. with Buddy Miles and Three Dog Night.
Although the line-ups over the years have changed, they are still active on both the recording and touring fronts. Most of the Osibisa back catalog has been reissued, much of it on the Australian AIM label although a big negative on the packaging for this disc which does a horrible job with Roger Dean’s beautiful artwork. Yuck.