Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Music And Arts Scene

African Records Review

By Kwabena Asamoah

MANU DIBANGO: 'Electric Africa' (CELLULOID CELL 6114) 'Pata Piya' 'Electric Africa'/'Echos Beti' 'L'Arbre A Palabres'.

Reflecting back on the earlier style of music of Emmanuel Dibango, now popularly known as Manu Dibango, one's reaction is that Cameroon's Dibango has come far with his 'Makossa' music from the Latin- style of 'Bata Senga' and 'Biso' in the early seventies to the original Makossa style of the present day which has captured the world's imagination.

As electric as he would want to be, Manu Dibango, in this new Celluloid release, has managed to put together a perfect blend of fusion that confirms his position as one of the greatest African musicians, if not the best.

Electric Africa aptly begins with 'Pata Piya' - an electro-based Mokassa beat in which Dibango takes both sax and vocal slots to a great effect. He is joined on the vocal by Florence Dimbeng, Sissy Dipoko and Francis Mbappe in 'Electric Africa', a song which defines the direction which Dibango wants to go now. Wally Badarou's touch of solo on this song provides a beautiful colour to it all while Joseph Kuo and Jerry Malekani give it a solid foundation on Simmons kit and guitar respectively.

'Echos Beti' has the delight of African power released by the vocals, guitars and what sounds like zylo- phone. In his characteristic style, Dibango mixes talking with singing to a great effect. The combination of sax and trumpet makes a clean change to the music that will certainly convert even the most adamant. The frenzy emanating from the drum kit reinforces the drive in the song which later gives way to the pleasant nature of 'L'Arbre A Palabres' as a concluding track. The relaxed style in this song is emphasised by Mory Kante's kora and Aiyb Dieng's chatan. Jerry Malekani proves a stylish guitarist throughout this track while Dibango himself weaves in his usual sax solos.

I dare say that of all the four recent Celluloid productions by Bill Laswell, Electric Africa is not only the best but also the one which suffered least from Western electro. Perhaps that explains the stature of Manu Dibango both as an experienced musician and a producer after having been recording for years in Europe and America. Electric Africa is pride for Africa.

ANTHONY KING YEBOAH & KK's BAND: 'Nde Yen Da' (ASONA ASR 1010) 'Nde Yen Da' 'Make Me Know My Position'/'People Talk Of You' 'Moma Yen Hwe Yie'.

The history of this LP is long but simple. Originally released in what looked like a most unimaginative and illegible sleeve, Nde Yen Da has now been put in a slightly better cover the notes of which can, at least, be read.

Popularly known as A.K. Yeboah & K.K. No.2 Band, this group has had the credit of being one of the most popular guitar bands in Ghana with such hit tunes as 'Akyinkyin Akyin- kyin' and 'Ohoho Bata Ni'. Having gone through the mill with Kakaiku and Ahamano's Band, A.K. Yeboah later branched out on his own early enough to form K.K. No.2 Band in 1967.

The emphasis in the new album is on rhythm and tempo rather than on lyrics which is one of the strongest points of Ghanaian guitar bands. This is re- inforced by Yeboah's guitar which approaches the Zairean style in almost all the four tracks which make this album.

The dance floor immediately reacts to the opener 'Nde Yen Da' which attempts to revitalise the hi-life scene a bit. 'Make Me Know My Position' is another theme in the vein of Uhuru's 'No Parking' and 10. NEPA Kantata's 'Side Issue'. The guitars twang in the Zairean fashion, but the style approaches Nigerian hi-life. Of course, there has been a time when even Ghanaian bands were playing for 'naira' power. Was this LP recorded during that time?

The B-side does not differ both in style and lyrical approach from the A-side, but A.K. Yeboah steps up guitar power in 'People Talk Of Y The advice is worthy of note: pept will laugh and do everything with but will talk of you behind your ha But can you avoid that? I would rather think of the guitar riffs and percussion which lifts the tempo of the track to a feverish end.

The combination of bass and rhythm guitars at the beginning of 'Moma Hwe Yie' makes a delightful setting for the rest of the track. The exception in this track is the typical guitar band approach to lyrics A.K. Yeboah generally tried to change on this short album..

It is a great pity that the musicia are not given any credit on the cover but they certainly contributed towards the aspirations of it all, especially the bass guitar in 'Moma Yen Hwe Yie' which concludes everything. Let's keep dancing rather than listening to the lyrics.


1. SOMO SOMO Somo Somo (STERNS) Zaire
2. MPAEBO Pat Thomas (NAKASI) Ghana
3. ARMY ARRANGEMENT Fela Anikulapo Kuti (CELLULOID) Nigeria
5. NA WA FOR YOU Hi-Life International (STERNS)
6. OBI DOBA African Brothers (A.B.R) Ghana
7. WAITING FOR THE RAIN Hugh Masekala (JIVE AFRICA) South Africa
8. BEHYE ME MA New Life Gospel (PMA) Ghana
9. ELECTRIC AFRICA Manu Dibango (CELLULOID) Cameroon
10. NEPA Tony Allen (EARTHWORKS) Nigeria
12. 10eme ANNIVERSAIRE Elvis Kem (SAF. AMBIENCE) Cameroon
14. HI-LIFE TIME George Darko (OVAL) Ghana
15. BRE BRE NA EYE Atakora Manu (PMA) Ghana

Chart courtesy of AFROBOOM RECORDS, 135 C Road, London E5 8EE (Mail Order only).

talking drums 1985-06-17 campaign against death penalty in Ghana