Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Music And Arts Scene

African Records Review

By Kwabena Asamoah

DUDU PUKWANA & ZILA featuring Pinise Saul: Live in Bracknell & Willisau (JIKA RECO RECORDS ZL2) 'Hug Pine' 'Mahlomole' Lafente' Baganga Bay' 'Freely' Funk Them DP To Eriko' 'Ziyekeleni' "The Big (Pine) Apple' 'Zama Khwalo'.

The songs on this album, the first by Zila since the beginning of the revival of African music, coast both African music and jazz. Recorded live at two separate concerts, the album has the promise and quality. Is the opening track - 'Hug Pine' - not a good hint?

Featured as the lead singer, Pinise Saul releases her hypnotically beautiful voice to sing her soul out in 'Hug Pine'. All the instruments effectively conspire to give the track an extraordinary appeal. The lyrical flugelhorn and sax are some of the strongest points in 'Hug Pine' 'Lafente' and 'Freely'.

Mahlomele is unique for its African chanting while Pinise Saul's gracious voice assumes another interesting role in 'Baqanga Bay' which is a mid-tempo sounding almost funkish. As in almost all the tracks, Dudu Pukwana's sax solos reveal his high standard of play in one of the stand- out tracks on the album.

'Funk Them DP To Erika' may sound slightly different but it affords the instruments especially the congas to chime in. Before the group sets off to do a beautiful South African jive in 'Ziyekeleni' (Let them be) - beauty of a harmony each musician is verbally introduced. Though they are not necessarily given a chance to solo, their individual displays in 'Ziyekeleni' and The Big (Pine) Apple' - a Hugh Masekela composition are superb. The jazz guitar chords make absolute delight.'

The album closes with 'Zama Khwalo' (Try again) - an up-tempo which is a source of warmth and feel- ing for both musicians and listeners. Saul's voice helps to heighten the brilliance of the sax and piano solos to make the track tidy and smashing. No wonder the crowd want more. The album is extremely attractive for consideration.

SUNSUM BAND featuring Becky B: 'Odo' (Love) (ASA 1001) 'Odo' (Love) 'Yei Nti' 'Me Ampara Ni?'/'Mensee Madwen'.

After a successful tour of the UK the colourful Sunsum Band have sealed their programme with the release of this new album which will intrigue enthusiasts of hi-life rhythm.

A tune punctuated by pleasing melody as traced by the guitars (Smart Nkansah and Owiredu), 'Odo' (Love) promises to be the stand-out track on the album. It is one of the tracks which gives Becky B the greatest chance to float her natural but beautiful voice over the pulsating music. The lyrics in 'Odo' (Love) and 'Yei Nti' relate the emotional attachment to a lover (and husband?) and the anxiety to avoid exposing their loves (and marriage) to public ridicule. Don't many women of conscience try this difficult thing?

The horns arrangement in 'Odo' (Love) especially George Amissah's alto sax and Paa Akrashia's trumpet solos may be short but musically signi-ficant . The tune is a classic hi-life track which will generate a lot of warmth on the dance floor.

What strikes the listener in 'Yei Nti' is Owiredu's guitar work at the back- ground propping Becky B's voice befit- ting the lyrics - jealously forcing a woman to intevene in the husband's extra-marital love affair. The melody and the background music especially the horns succeed in salvaging the lyrics which may appear to be slightly overdone at certain points. The two keyboards of Tetteh and Arthur fill the background with soothing finger strikes while Oware's bass guitar throbs adequately. Becky B is in an incredible position of power here to lash at a man flirting with another woman outside marriage and she has good voice to turn any event to her advantage. 'Mensee Madwen' (Don't try to seduce me) is a medley of traditional hi-life which begins with Smart Nkansah leading on vocals and continues half-way through with Becky B singing a song of resistance against the seductive attempts of a man. The arrangement is not particularly successful but the horns and keyboards solos, if given enough time, would have made a lot of difference to a whole side. Besides, Mulling's steady drums should have given way to more potent drums solos to complete the cycle. The lyrics and the mood are good fun, however.

Agyaaku carries listeners through 'Me Ampara Ni?', another beautiful tune whose lyrics depicting the loss of status of a duke sound the best on the album. Smart Nkansah's dominant guitar sounding almost Zairean reveals a mastery almost frightening.

On balance, this album will be the material on which the Sunsum Band is going to be judged after their current tour. You may join the judges.

talking drums 1984-08-13 Commodities on the streets - Happy days in Ghana