Vibrant Ghana in the 1970s

Various Artists -  Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds and Ghanaian Blue 1968-1981
Various Artists – Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds and Ghanaian Blue 1968-1981
Various Artists

Ghana Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds and Ghanaian Blue 1968-1981 (Soundway Records, 2009)

Ghana Special, the latest compilation on the Soundway Records, focuses on the vibrant Ghanaian roots music scene from the 1968 through 1981. Ghana was a powerhouse of modern highlife, afrobeat, funk and various other genres that combined Ghanian traditional music with the sounds of the African diaspora from the United States: soul, funk, blues, and jazz.

With a total of thirty-three original and previously un-reissued tracks, Ghana Special reveals numerous gems. A common thread throughout the album is that Ghanaian bands have fabulous rhythm sections. Many of the groups included in the compilation feature a scorching mix of drum kits, traditional percussion and bass. Joining the rhythm sections are charismatic vocalists, excellent guitarists and electric organ players.

Ghana Special represents nearly ten years of on-going research in and around the cities of Accra, Tema, Cape Coast, Takoradi and Kumasi. Compiler and label owner Miles Cleret made numerous trips to Ghana and he ended up knocking on musicians’ doors and visiting former distributors, DJs, collectors, manufacturers and shop owners who helped put the project together.

The boxed set comes as a double CD hardback case-bound book and 5LP vinyl box set. Both the CD and boxed set features a 44-page booklet full of history, photographs and original record scans. The 5xLP boxed set comes with bonus tracks, unavailable on the CD.

Ghana Special is a fabulous example of soulful Ghanaian musical passion, power and vitality. Highly recommended and an extraordinary reference point for current Afrobeat and jam bands.

Buy the album:

CD Track List

1. The Mercury Dance Band – Kai Wawa
2. T. O. Jazz – Owuo Adaadaa Me
3. Christy Azuma & Uppers International – Din Ya Sugri
4. The Barbecues – Aaya Lolo
5. Asaase Ase – Ohiani Sua Efir
6. St. Peter & The Holymen – Bofoo Beye Abowa Den
7. City Boys Band – Nya Asem Hwe
8. Hedzoleh Soundz – Edinya Benya
9. The Cutlass Dance Band – HweHwe Mu Yi Mpena
10. Dr. K. Gyasi & His Noble Kings – Sei Nazo
11. Kyeremateng Atwede & The Kyeremateng Stars – I Go Die For You
12. Vis a Vis – Obi Agye Me Dofo
13. Ebo Taylor – Twer Nyame (excerpt)
14. The Big Beats – Mi Nsumõõ Bo Dõnn
15. Pa Steele’s African Brothers – Odo Mmera
16. The Ogyatanaa Show Band – You Monopolise Me

1. The African Brothers International Band – Wompe Masem
2. Gyedu-Blay Ambolley & His Creations – Akoko Ba
3. The Sweet Talks – Akampanye
4. Houghas Sorowonko – Enuanom Adofo
5. Oscar Sulley’s Nzele Soundz – Bukom
6. Bokoor Band – You Can Go
7. K. Frimpong & His Cubanos Fiestas – Kyenkyen Bi Adi M’Awu
8. Basa Basa Soundz feat. Fela Anikulapo Kuti – Dr. Solutsu
9. Pagadeja – Tamale
10. Hedzolleh Soundz – Omusus Da Fe M’musu
11. The Uhuru Dance Band – Yahyia Mu
12. Dr. K. Gyasi & His Noble Kings – Noble Kings (Yako Aba)
13. The Wellis Band – Bindiga
14. Boombaya – Boombaya
15. Sawaaba Soundz – Owuo
16. The Cutlass Dance Band – Them Go Talk Of You
17. Honny & The Bees Band – Sisi Mbon

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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