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World Music CD Reviews Africa

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By TOM PRYOR
Published June 4, 2006

GHANA SOUNDZ
Soundways

If you thought Afrobeat was limited to Fela Kuti and various Nigerian accomplices, disciples and offspring, this new compilation from the fledgling Sound Way label will be a real eye-opener. Subtitled Afro-Beat, Funk and Fusion in ’70s Ghana, the collection unearths a treasure trove of forgotten gems from the golden age of African pop. Drawing on the same American R&B influences (especially James Brown) that reshaped Fela’s music in the ’70s, these Ghanaian funkateers demonstrate musical borders between Nigeria and Ghana were as fluid as ever in that decade. Despite the inclusion of better-known artists such as Ebo Taylor, most of the tracks here—such as the Third Generation Band’s wicked “Because of Money”—are one-off experiments from outfits more accustomed to playing highlife. Taken together, these one-offs add up to an eminently listenable scrapbook of a unique moment in the history of African pop.