Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Music And Arts Scene

African Records Review

By Kwabena Asamoah

REX GYAMFI: 'Sweet Lady' (MSH RECORDS ST MSH 01183) German import Medicine Man & The Wind' Assabone Nkum Assasse' 'Time' Relax'/'Sweet Lady' 'Kakrakakra' Hi Life Special' 'Efie Nefie'.

West Germany is breeding a crop of high-quality West African musicians and groups - Saraba, Anabo, Kantata, Bus Stop, Unoo, Original Front and a few others. Rex Gyamfi is yet another sensation to come up recently with his debut album 'Sweet Lady'.

Typical of ambitious young African musicians, Rex Gyamfi tries to satisfy a wider audience with a varied music - from agbadza and hi-life to funk and jazz funk. Listening to the entire album, the impression you get is that he has tried over the years to train hard in the jazz funk guitar playing and has undoubtedly been successful. Neither has he completely abandoned his African (Ghanaian) roots in his music. The combination of the two makes Rex Gyamfi one of the greatest African musicians who may have the promise to take African music well into the disco orbit.

The title track 'Sweet Lady' - and 'Time', definitely funkish, are not necessarily the best tracks but the arrangements are not monotonous.. With Medicine Man & The Wind', Rex Gyamfi has also proved that it may be possible to raise the other music form in Ghana - agbadza - to an international standard if properly arranged. His hold on the guitar is convincing and all the instruments combine to make this track the best agbadza I have heard recently.

Assabone Nkum Assasse', 'Kakrakakra' and 'Efie Nefie' are Rex Gyamfi's major contributions to the African disco scene. Determined to add his African feel to the music, he does the lyrics in Asante (a Ghanaian language) while throwing an Afro- Carribean style into the rhythm especially in 'Assabone Nkum Assasse'.

'Kakrakakra' sounds the best African disco cut on the album with its tidy arrangement. The lyrics which is not one of Rex Gyamfi's strongest points is however exceptional here (Rome was not built in a day). The beautiful melodies in 'Relax' and 'Hi-life Special' will strike you. The two are both rhythms for relaxation but sound jazz funkish. If Rex Gyamfi feels comfortable enough to write these beautiful melodies from his head, then the sky is the limit.

On balance, Rex Gyamfi's voice may not sound extraordinary but his arrangements and mastery on the guitar are striking. Unsure of what to play to capture a sizeable audience, he was forced to play a varied music. My prediction is that his next album will hit the top of the charts if he uses his jazz chords well. Meanwhile, I doubt whether you can do without this debut album for your collection.


What readily comes to mind any time you see Shina Williams' name is his collaboration with King Sunny Ade on the famous 'Maajo' and 'Ajoo' albums. But Shina Williams is a musician in his own right who is entering a special class in contemporary African music.

This 12in. disco 45 has been hurriedly extracted from the album - African Dances to quench the thirst among British audience for this brand of music. 'Agboju Logun' (Don't Rely On Family Wealth) has been one of the hottest favourites among London DJ's for some time and their job has been made easier and more enjoyable by the release of this single on a British label.

No doubt, this is one of the few Nigerian tracks to enter the African London. disco scene thanks to its pulsating and steady pulse. The harmonic structures created by the keyboards set a good tone for both the female chorus and the horns both before and after a male vocal solo. The lyrics are fortunately not overdone and the arrangements conveniently make disco dancing a reality.

Quite recently too, 'Gboro Mi Ro (Hear My Prayers) is making a head way on the African scene. The call and answer between a male voice and the female chorus begin a rhythm that leads itself to an African dance already familiar to British audience. The talking drums come in with horns to stamp some colour on to the music. When the female chorus follow the refrain traced by the horns, the guitars twang and the entire group is on the go. Shina Williams is a great promise.


The African Music Village experience continues with workshops, talks and performances by a galaxy of African musicians from varied backgrounds.

Last Thursday 26 July, the veteran Ghanaian folk musician, Koo Nimo and his Adadam group were scheduled to perform at 7.30 p.m. Backed by his 15-man strong group, Koo Nimo could prove to be the highlight of Ghanaian traditional music in the whole musical experience.

Monday 30 July, a rare chance to hear the eminent Ghanaian musicologist, Prof. J.H.K. Nketia of the University of Pittsburgh. His talk is entitled 'An approach to African music'. Around noon that day Koo Nimo gives another concert (informal) with Cameroonian musicologist, Francis Bebey playing the guitar and mbira in another one-hour informal show.

The programme continues till 4 August and if you want some more information about the Village ring the Commonwealth Institute on 01-603 4535. 100 Club, Oxford St., W1.

Lambeth's way

LAST weekend 'Lambeth Country Show' was one of the biggest and most successful in the history of the two day event. Up to 150,000 people visited the show in beautiful sun-kissed weather to marvel and enjoy the bountyful dis- plays and attractions, the likes of which can be seen nowhere else in London.

Amidst the blustering festivities a more formal, but equally important, event took place in the interest of better international and national understanding. This was the twinning ceremony in which Lambeth formally twinned with Spanish Town (Jamaica) and celebrated its friendship with other twinning links

talking drums 1984-07-30 Ghana A Danish Electric car deal - who will lead the parties in Liberia