Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Music And Arts Scene

African Records Review

By Kwabena Asamoah

KWADWO DONKOH & HIS ABOKYI PARTS OF GHANA: 'Christmas Africana' (SHAKA XAKA 3L AGL 030) 'Medley 'Yema Mo Afenhyia Pa' et al. 'Afe Aso Ama Makae M'Asem'/'Bronya' 'Afenhyia Pa O' 'Afe Foforo Yempe Rough' 'Yede Mpaebo Ma Wo'

Mention the name of Kwadwo Donkoh and almost everybody would remember 'Mmoborowa' played by Ogyatanaa and sung by Pat Thomas. Those who belong to the music of the sixties would also recall the hit tunes of Professional Uhuru Dance Band: 'Go Slow' 'No Parking' 'Skin Pain' 'Time for Hi-Life' 'Antobro' 'Bue W'Akoma' and many others, all composed by Kwadwo Donkoh.

Voted the Best Composer for 1978 in Ghana by ECRAG, Kwadwo Donkoh continues to make an impact on the Ghanaian music scene, an example of which is this album. Begun several years ago, recorded in Ghana and re- mixed in London, the music on this album evokes several dimensions of Christmas in the Ghanaian context: happiness as in 'Afe Ato Yen' and 'Bronya Aba'; sadness for the loss of dear ones ('Afe Aso Ma Makae M'Asem') and gratitude with prayers to God for better and longer life in the years ahead ('Yede Mpaebo Ma Wo').

Side one begins with Christmas tunes by Kakaiku and E. K. Nyame who dominated the hi-life scene for several years. The percussive content propped by the handclaps tighten the background for the sweet voices led by S. P. Ankrah to grace the music with charm. Children too have fun during Christmas by going round in groups to solicit for presents especially for biscuits as in 'Papa Yaba Wo Fie' which is part of the long medley on side one.

'Afe Aso Ama Makae M'Asem' is an emotionally-charged slowie which will bring you close to tears. It is by far the best track on the album not only by its lyrics but also Kwadwo Donkoh's harmonious organ and Ekow Afful's bass and rhythm guitars. Composed in 1972, it recounts the fatality of mankind: Donkoh lost his two-year old son in a burns accident in the Christmas of that year.

Side two continues to exhibit a wealth of Christmas hi-life tunes, carols and party tunes. The drum rolls throughout the opening 'Bronya' to provide a fillip on the dance floor. leisurely. Notice that not only do Abokyi Parts sing in both Ghanaian and English languages throughout the album but also sing some English Christmas carols.

The lyrics in 'Afenhyia Pa' is another good point even though the horns arrangements do not necessarily succeed. The happy mood is continued in 'Afe Foforo Yempe Rough' where Kwadwo Donkoh characteristically gives a humouristic approach to prayers.

'Yede Mpaebo Ma Wo' is yet one of the best tracks entirely purified by the beautiful voice of Kojo Ewudzi-Amoo, one of the best singers in Ghana today. The short but significantly beautiful organ mellowness initiated by Kwadwo Donkoh set the tone for the spontaneous vocal harmonies (abokyi parts) that make the forte of the group. Christmas is a festive season and this album will provide a recipe for the period and a reference material throughout the year.

DZATA: 'Underground' (DEC RECORDS DHILP 10001) 'Summertime' 'West Wind' 'Have You Heard The News' 'Peter Pete'/'It's My Life' 'Ya Bre' 'Party' 'All Of Us'

Trafalgar Square the heart of London itself - saw the inauguration of this debut album on a rainy afternoon. There is the talk of imminent big time promotional concerts on the way but you have the chance to sample the music on this album.

Dzata comprises seasoned musicians (Herman "Wonderbass" Asafo-Agyei and Kofi Adu on drums both of Hi- Life International), Kari Bannerman (ex-Osibisa), and few other new faces from Ghana and elsewhere.

The reeds harmonies, the guitars propped by the strong bass line and the mellowness in 'Peter Pete' immediately intrigue my ears without being boring. It is an instrumental tune which allows almost all the musicians to express themselves especially Kofi Adu who composed it.

'Summertime' is a party song with a strong Caribbean feel which has unfortunately missed the Carnival 1984. The sax solo and the vocal content attempt to make the music gush forward for attention.

The agbadza in 'West Wind' is given a nice approach by the combination of synthesizers and horns which create a convenient atmosphere for Laka Daisical's beautiful voice to swim

'Have You Heard The News' would remind you of Osibisa but the synthesizers and Barry Ford's peculiar voice and Caribbean production will give a new sign to this brand of music.

Side two begins with a hi-life ('It's My Life') sung in both Ga and English languages by Opata Azu. Herman's bass guitar would have made a lot of difference if the production was tighter but the keyboards and the percussion strike well on the melody.

One would be more inclined towards their instrumental tunes on the album as 'Ya Bre' would prove. The keyboards at the background and the harmonious horns arrangements make this track one of the best on the album which does not sound to provide any new music.

The soca element in 'Party' may appeal to both African and non- African listeners and 'All Of Us' may also reach reggae fans but it's only time which will tell. There's nothing new about the music on the album but you may strike accord with some of the tunes if you maintain an open mind.

talking drums 1984-12-03 Ghana a government of part timers Nigeria press-government relations