Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dancing to the Kusum Beat

With the imminent start of World Cup 2010 in South Africa (go Cote d'Ivoire!) it seemed a good time to turn my Ear To The Sound to some of the music from the African continent.

For those of us who can't afford to travel to Ghana to do our own record-shopping the fine folks at Soundway Records have reissued one of that country's biggest acts of the 1970s sophomore effort; Sweet Talks' The Kusum Beat. Sweet Talks was formed in late 1973 in Tema, Ghana and the ten-piece outfit quickly grew out of its role as the house band at leader Jonathan Abraham's The Talk of the Town Hotel and started appearing on larger stages across Ghana.

It's no surprise that the album is steeped in the highlife sound that their country birthed and later exported to the rest of West Africa ("kusum" apparently means 'native' in Twi), but Sweet Talks incorporated Afrobeat and funk elements into their music and created a highly danceable and exiting new sound that has stood the test of time. It's as vital and energetic 36 years on as it was when it was first released in 1974. Take opener "Akampanye" with its great vamping organ work and percussive shuffle - the horns that dance atop the rhythm section may have the melodic line, but they also reinforce that beat moving it ever forward.

Fans of the Nigeria Special compilation series that Soundway has previously released will definitely want to check out this great full-length album - it's like ordering a big steak instead of the appetizer sampler platter.

You can listen to "Eyi Su Ngaangaa" on Dusted's review of The Kusum Beat.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...

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