Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Music And Arts Scene - Clear Conscience

African Records Review

By Kwabena Asamoah

SUNNY ADE: 'Conscience Eri Okan' (SAL P538). 'Eri Okan' 'Semi Lasepe' 'Odele Alaga' 'Igbehin Loju' 'Atiro Gbon Orin Da' 'Ojumo oni Tunmo' 'Ebawa Jo' 'Prince Biyi Adegoke'.

The clutter of guitar to the point of bewildering the unsuspecting ears constitute the epitome of the first and the best track 'Eri Okan'. The other important ingredient in Sunny's music, vocal harmony detains your ears especially when the Hawaian guitar is given a turn to turn you on the beat. The talking drums talk and the percussion is not left out either - all to your delight and body movement.

You come close to listening to a masterpiece especially when the vocal backing responds to Sunny's vocal call while the tune eats into 'Semi Lasepe'. The tempo slackens a bit but there is an admirable come-back to the rhythm of 'Eri Okan' which only adds to the beauty of the album, the vocals dying off melodiously enough to make you yell 'encore!'

'Odel Alaga' follows up to give the percussion a chance to set the tone, quickly taken over by the intricate guitars and singing - juju music is on its way into 'Igbehin Loju'.

The smallish but powerful Sunny sings to jolt you on with 'Atiro Gbon Orin Da' a track which undoubtedly allows the bass line to give you the feel of depth in juju music. The pace in this track allows a Yoruba couple to wrap you crazy in proper juju dance. There are obviously some messages in the guitars, thus concluding the communication between the group and the audience. You don't realise that you are being gently led into 'Ojumo Oni Tunmo' which follows a similar tune without sacrificing its distinctive characteristic.

Sunny launches into traditional Yoruba tunes to give you variety on the album and the beauty of it all is when all the instruments join in in a frenzied mood.

The key to 'Ebawa Jo' are the beautiful guitar repetitions which admirably fill the background for the singers to do justice to their voices. The talking drums are strong enough to get the message across.

No wonder you are again found in the tidy 'Prince 'Biyi Adegoke' in spite of yourself and the talking drums and all beautifully bid goodbye to your listening ears.

ADOMAKO NYAMEKYE: 'Ka Nea Maye (YEB OBL 506). 'Ka Nea Maye' 'Yennya Woo' 'Obaatan Pa'/'Mena Wo Nni Asem' 'Pe Akongua' 'Abrabo Ye Bonna'.

Produced by Smart Nkansah, one time guitarist leader of the famous Sweet Talks Band and now of Sunsum Band, this debut album of Adomako Nyamekye's made an instant hit in Ghana during last Christmas. It isdifficult to tell whether this was due to lack of competition or quality of music.

Adomako's forte lies in both the lyrics and rhythm as demonstrated in the opening 'Ka Nea Maye' a low but measured hi-life. The lyrics have got a lot to offer: "you must at least tell the truth even if you want to gossip about me". I am not too sure whether one would be given such a choice in real life, but at least we are offered one on this album; and that is Mackie Flash's strong bass line which is a bonus throughout the album. Even though the organ does not fully satisfy the vocal due adequately complements the danceability of the tracks. No doubt the vocal harmony is one of the best after the one in Pilseners Band's 'Asomdwee Hen'.

Your feet go tapping right from the beginning of 'Yennya Woo' at the inviting temptation of the trumpet solo. With 'Meno Wo Nni Asem' the up-tempo beat coasts along that of Jewel Ackah's 'Epitipiti' - a superb arrangement. Adomako picks up a soul beat (not absolutely brilliantly) in 'Obaatan Pa' and 'Abrabo ye Bonna'. The horns are occasionally allowed in and the guitar, though soft, is soothing. The organ is again not very forthcoming enough but the lyrics which are the strongest points in these two tracks are moving.

The ghost of Sunsum Band creeps into 'Pe Akongua', a track in which Ebo Dadson (formerly of Uhuru Dance Band) is allowed a few fine sax phrases. The lyrics, similar to that in 'Ka Nea Maye', proves the potential of Adomako Nyamekye, reckoned to be one of the rising 'guitar band' hi-life stars in Ghana today.


by Staccato

I WAS at the Africa Centre for the second performance of Nana Kwame Ampadu's stage rendition of "The Tragedy of Kawataā€¯, a musical comedy about the evils and greed in social life. I have seen quite a few Ampadu shows back home and I must say that what I saw that day didn't quite measure up to the original, yes, the authentic Ampadu touch.

Admittedly, the music was good and broad-based in the sense that to achieve maximum effect on the meaning of the play, other well known Ghanaian guitar band compositions were freely utilised and the actors and women impersonators were comically at their best.

However, one basic constraint kept the show from being lifted into the skies as should have been the case - the usage of pidgin English. Clearly, one could feel the struggle to linguistically translate the indigenous Ghanaian jokes to produce the mirth which they invariably evoke back home, with limited success.

Then, of course, there was the time factor. Everybody knows how such concerts last for over six hours in the towns and villages, but here had to be compressed into about three. It all gave the impression of acts and scenes being rushed past the audience before they could grasp the jokes.

Anyway, as someone said after the show, it was still a good effort on the actors and the musicians to have worked so hard to reduce this disadvantage to a minimum and managed to make the evening still come across as an enjoyable one.

If you missed the musical, don't miss the Ghana Film season which begins on Wednesday, March 21st-29th. Good films produced by the Ghana Film Corporation including: "The Boy Kumasenu', 'I Told You So', 'Genesis Chapter X' and 'The Visitor', will be shown at 6:30pm every day

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