Review: For their latest deep dive into forgotten and sought-after African music, Mr Bongo has secured the rights to reissue Togolese singer Akofa Akoussah's eponymous 1976 debut album. Akoussah was already something of a scene veteran when she recorded the set for Paris-based Sonafric, having made her vinyl debut in Togo 11 years earlier. The set remains something of a classic, with Akoussah variously delivering sweet vocals over local rhythms and guitars, bass, horns and Moog synth parts that showcase her Western funk and soul influences. There are some suitably heavy dancefloor workouts throughout (not least superb opener "Tango") as well as more laidback and stripped-back cuts. Curiously, the echo-laden production makes it sound like it was recorded in the mid '60s rather than the 1970s, but that's no criticism; it just adds an extra edge of intoxicating fuzziness.
Review: Two titans of African music come together for a collaboration that will sadly never be repeated after the passing of the late Hugh Masekela. Allen's instantly recognisable drumming and Masekela's iconic trumpet are a match made in heaven - after all their paths first crossed back in the 70s thanks to Fela Kuti's galvanizing energy. Forget the throwback stuff trying to capture the spirit of the originators, this IS the originators sounding cool and deadly in every way. Funk lovers, Afrobeat heads, curious ears and dancing souls take heed - this right here is an unmissable transmission from two grandmasters in their field.
Room Enough For Us (feat Ray Lugo - Terrificos mix)
Review: The Alma Afrobeat Ensemble is a ten-piece outfit from Barcelona created, in part, to pay tribute to the pioneering work of Fela Kuti and Tony Allen, amongst others. It's Time is their third full-length, and comprises both new material, and fresh remixes of previous work. In the former category, you'll find the thrilling, horn-heavy brilliance of "It's Time", and the slower, organ rich thrills of "Lost". As fine as these tracks are, it's the dancefloor-ready reworks that arguably hit home hardest. Highlights include DJ Quiet's low-slung, broken beat influenced interpretation of "DWB Breakdown", Los Kalakos killer dub rework of "Lost", and the subtle Afro-house infusions of Terrificos' remix of "Room Enough For Us
Review: 1975's "Simigwa" album not only launched the career of Afro-funk fusionist and eventual Highlife great Gyedu Blay Ambolley, but also inspired a Ghanaian dance craze. The album was co-produced by another Highlife great, Ebo Taylor, and has long been exceptionally hard to find on vinyl. For this official vinyl reissue on Mr Bongo, Ambolley's landmark set has been fully re-mastered for the very first time. It sounds spectacular, with great clarity on the ear-catching brass solos, serious weight to the bass and superb stereo separation. Highlights include - but certainly aren't limited to - the Afro-blues brilliance of "Toffie", the jaunty dancefloor fuzziness of "This Hustling World" and the heavyweight swing of ear-catching opener "Kwaakwaa".
Review: Dutch dude Arp Frique won plenty of praise for his 2017 debut 12" on Rush Hour Store Jams, which featured contributions from Senegalese and Cape Verde musicians. On this surprise debut album, he continues the same approach, delivering a scintillating set of tracks that gleefully join the dots between Afro-disco, jazz-funk, boogie, Caribbean reggae-disco, bossa-soul and the kind of up-tempo, synth-laden madness that defies easy categorization. Throughout, the presence of live drums, vocals and instrumentation gives the album a loose and fluid feel, as if what we're listening to is not a fresh album, but rather a long lost African rarity from the turn of the '80s. As debut albums go, it's a bit of a corker.