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Various Artists - Afrobeat Airways 2: Return Flight To Ghana 1974-1983” (2013) review

Various Artists “Afrobeat Airways 2: Return Flight To Ghana 1974-1983” (CD/2xLP on Analog Africa, 2013)

As the title indicates, this marks a return to the West African nation of Ghana for more ultra-rare Afrobeat that’ll keep your happy feet plastered to the dancefloor. While the incredible 44-page booklet full of artist and producer bios and interviews and amazing contemporary images is worth the price of admission alone, particularly for musicologists tracking the history of Afro funk and soul, these thirteen tracks will get the party started and keep you bopping and hopping all night long. [One minor quibble: the track/artist annotations in the book do not follow the CD sequence, so it takes a little effort flipping abck-and-forth throughout the booklet to locate the artist  info as you listen along.]
                Uppers International kick things off with the funky sway of “Aja Wondo”, an hallucinogenic trance stomper. One of many treats for collectors is up next in the previously unreleased jazzy improve “Children Don’t Cry”, featuring Afrobeat star Ebo Taylor backing his son, Ebo, Jnr. Brass aficionados will love this one, but there’s some perfectly placed guitar solos in there as well.
The enigmatic De Frank and His Professionals (Frank Kakrah always kept a low profile and his current whereabouts are still unknown) ups the funk ante with “Waiting For My Baby”, which rides its “Louie Louie” riff into a blaring brass coda. A few personal highlighta are up next: Los Issufu and His Moslems’ “Kana Soro” and Waza-Afriko 76’s “Gbei Kpakpa Hife Sika” both ride deliriously infectious organ beats coupled with more trance/dance rhythms that will find the listener enveloped within their grip and have you swaying and grooving long after the tracks fade away.

Tony Sarfo & The Funky Afrosibi’s instrumental “I Beg” welds Booker T & The M.G.’s to latter-day Talking Heads, K. Frimpong’s lengthy “Abrabo” will work up a brutal sweat with its jazzy guitar licks, chanting/rapping vocals, and omnipresent brass and this whole compilation is highly recommended to fans of world beat, afro funk, and 80s practitioners like the Heads, Liquid Liquid, Medium Medium, and other funky, brass-and-organ-heavy artists.

Review made by Jeff Penczak/2013
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