Friday, April 30, 2010

Abstract Index Playlist - April 28/10

A.B. Crentsil is one of the first names I encountered when shopping for African music a long time ago. This is likely because he and other Ghanaian stars like Pat Thomas and Jewel Ackah were based in Toronto for a while, which represented the first wave of African music in Canada. One of his LPs, Sweet Elizabeth, was released through World Art And Decor on Queen St. This was once just about the only place to find African music (downtown) outside of a big chain store, like Sam's or A & A. I think I scooped my copy of Sweet Elizabeth at the Canadian National Exhibition "multicultural marketplace" when the store was trying to unload all its vinyl! After checking into Crentsil, I discovered he was the lead singer of the Sweet Talks, one of Ghana's most popular highlife bands of the 70s. That's part of the reason I'm chuffed about this reissue.

Soundway of course has done a great job of exposing obscure music from Nigeria, Panama, the French Caribbean and so forth, but it's nice to see them reissue music by better known artists like the Sweet Talks and Hedzoleh Soundz (later of Hugh Masekela fame). For funk-and-beyond collectors, obscurity is a virtue. In one sense, the Sweet Talks are obscure, with only one prior international release to their name, but they were one of the biggest bands in Ghana during the seventies. It's welcome news to hear the kind of music which was critically and commercially successful during that era. Soundway paints a clearer picture of West African sounds with releases like these, and I don't even have the liner notes which are no doubt up to the usual informative standard.

The Kusum Beat, from 1974, finds the Sweet Talks in a distinctly Afrobeatish mood with its heavy funk riffs and driving rather beat. According to the Soundway site this was far from typical of their output, and from what I've heard this is indeed much heavier music than I thought it would be. Here's hoping this reissue raises their profile.


escape the night - root 70 (nonplace)
the opposite - steve raegele (songlines)
the thing - the minotaurs (saved by vinyl)
akampanye - sweet talks (soundway)
wartef jigen - orchestre guelem de banjul (syllart)
zol - blk jks (secretly canadian)
tuareg goosi jam in tent - tuareg nomads & kiah keya/nomadic remix (kiahkeya productions)
fishsticks - samiyam (all city)
skip - out to lunch (accurate)
me gusto - mexicans with guns feat. chico mann (friends of friends)
can't feel nothing remix - high places (thrill jockey)
thunder soul - kashmere stage band (now again)
victory - the soul messengers (numero)
come with me - jahdan blakkamoore rmx by sabbo (gold dust)
blackmagic - jose james (brownswood)
heavenly hash - ufallani (no label)
no entry - gussie clarke (17 north parade)
brimstone and fire version - atarra (pressure sounds)
mr. universe dub version - mos def (no label)
fight you down - jah cutta (stomp)
love song - skeat (akwaaba)

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