Thirty-three more songs over two discs that add to the proof that West Africa was a hotbed for music from the late ’60s through the ’80s. It probably is now, too, but the focus of many an anthology recently has been on those 20 years. Ghana Special was produced old-school, with producer (and Soundway honcho) Miles Cleret driving around Ghana, asking DJs, collectors and record-shop owners to contribute their stashed vinyl and cassette gold. A generous selection of B-sides and un-issued album cuts is included, so this is a set in which folks from Ghana might also dig up some revelatory gems.
High-Life, that unique African blend of rock, funk and party soul, is featured prominently, though most of the tracks are a hot stew of fused rhythms. If you have tasted that stew before, names like the African Brothers International Band, Fela Kuti (in a cameo), the Mercury Dance Band and the Sweet Talks may ring a bell, but no matter. Anywhere you set down the needle on this set will land on a winner. Bokoor Band’s “You Can Go” and “You Monopolize Me” by Ogyatanaa Show Band are personal favorites.
Ghana Special is another historical document of what has been a long-overlooked peak period in world music. West African fusion of blues, rock, psych and funk over a period of 20 years or so starting in the late ’60s was one of the most inspired uses of the lessons of Western rock ever. This anthology is only a glimpse of what it was all about.