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World Music CD Reviews World Fusion

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By JUDSON KILPATRICK
Published May 2, 2006

ROUGH GUIDE TO HIGHLIFE
World Music Network/Rough Guides

You may not recognize the names, but the tunes here sound quite familiar. After all, in the cross-pollination of world music, Africa is the queen bee and “highlife” is the honey. Melding European influences with the rhythms of Ghana and Nigeria, these vibrant guitar-led songs are part of a dance music continuum that stretches through Cuba, Brazil and beyond. This collection provides a sampling of classics from the ’60s and ’70s, many unavailable anywhere else. Joe Mensah’s slowly building funk jam “Bosoe” is a true treasure. The stinging licks in Sir Victor Uwaifo’s “Guitar Boy” are inspired, Alex Konadu’s peppy “Asare” is a guaranteed floor-filler, and there’s a great percussion breakdown in the middle of “Ekombi” by Jerry Hansen and the Ramblers Dance Band. The ’80s disco-funk of George Darko’s “Hilife Time” is an incongruous surprise, following folkier tracks, but still a keeper. This is one of the most enjoyable compilations of the many under the Rough Guides banner.