Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Music And Arts Scene

African Records Review

By Kwabena Asamoah

THOMAS FREMPONG: Aye Yi (ASR 2010) 'Aye Yi' 'Odo Pa'/'Mada Meho So' 'Okwan Bi'

Golden voice Thomas Frempong is here with us once again this time not as singer of Dr. K. Gyasi's Noble Kings Band but as a solo artist in his own right. His Sasakroma though not well distributed launched him into a solo career which he sometimes likes to share with his bosom friend, guitarist Eric Agyemang. The two have jointly initiated and developed sikyi hi-life which is a down-to-earth medley of Asante songs updated with exuberant rhythms and arrangements no doubt the album Sikyi Hi-Life - sold close to 10,000 copies in 1975.

It is on record that Dr. K. Gyasi's Noble Kings Band built its strength and name around the sweet voice of Thomas Frempong who either solely wrote or co-wrote with Eric Agyemang almost all the popular Noble Kings songs including 'Obaa Baako Agyegye Me' 'Saman Wo De Me' 'Mebewu A Mennim' and 'Nsem Keka Adooso'.

Recorded and released in London Aye Yi sees Thomas Frempong in 'new look' availing himself with studio goodies calculated to please much wider audiences rather than his fellow Ghanaians. As a title track 'Aye Yi' is a tribute to a number of individuals who might have played various roles in his music career. Propped by linndrum and Cliff Asante's bass the song floats beautifully except that some empty gaps could have been filled by solos rather than keyboards which sound dominant at regular intervals. Although 'Yaa Amponsah' guitar chords fills the background there is no doubt that Frempong would miss Eric Agyemang's guitar for the first time in his recording career. On comparison however, 'Odo Pa' should have been the title track on the strength of the dominant but pleasantly rhythmic guitar works apart from the drive and trumpet solo.

A master of lyrics Thomas Frempong evokes themes of hate, jealousy, treachery and struggles in life in 'Mada Meho So' while throwing in a sikyi feel in 'Okwan Bi' my favourite track.

There are no big names on the line-up except trumpeter Osei Tutu (ex-Kabbala) and singer Mike Asante (ex-Sunsum Band) but the rest show commitment in their style.

On the whole this is a potentially good album which should do well although Thomas Frempong's beautiful voice should have been given its full potential apart from complementing proper drums with studio effects. A good party material.

KWADWO DONKOH: Christmas Africana (XAKA 3L)

'Yema Mo Afenhyia Pa medley' 'Afe Aso Ama Makae Masem'/'Bronya' 'Afenhyia Pa' 'Afe Foforo Yempe Rough' 'Yede Mpaebo Ma Wo'

The resourceful Kwadwo Donkoh re- surfaces with this Christmas present which was released rather too late last year. Thanks to Shaka Productions, Christmas Africana is already in the shops and doing fairly well as a record for the season and all occasions.

Although Donkoh has the credit of composing many of the Uhuru Dance Band hits including 'Go Slow' 'Time for Hi-Life' 'No Parking' 'Antobro' 'Skin Pain' and 'Bue W'Akoma' in the sixties it was not until the release of 'Mmoborowa' and Yerefrefre that he actually came into limelight which he has always shunned.

Christmas Africana is yet another milestone in the evolution of hi-life music. Through a medley of Christmas songs Donkoh has brought home some extra- ordinary arrangements and polished sounds to many. Being a period of happi- ness it is hardly surprising that the A-side begins with a bubbling 'Yema Mo Afen- hyia Pa' with sweet organ and guitar chords. Children too would make fun with 'Papa Yaba Wo Fie' while adults would be taking various New Year resolutions. Though a period of merrymaking Donkoh reminds the world of the need to remember our loved ones who have passed into eternity in 'Afe Aso Ama Makae Masem' - by far the best track on the album.

Evoking various Christmas themes, Kwadwo Donko employs beautiful orchestrations to express excitement at Christmas and the wish to spend the days ahead in ‘Afe Foforo Yempe Rough and Agenhyia Pa'. Using the sweet voices of Ewudzi-Amoo and an entire choir 'Yede Mpaebo Ma special prayers are offered to God in the end of year hymn Wo' which is the last song to mark the end of the current year and the beginning of another, precisely at 12 midnight of 31st December. There is no comparison to the vocal harmonies ('abokyi parts') in this song.

A well produced record that is likely to take hold of all parties.


1. 1x2=MABE Youlou Mabiala (APIA) Congo
3. ZULU JIVE VOL. 2 Various Artists (EARTHWORKS) Azania
5. NASI LINGUI Moni Bile/Ben Decca (SAPA) Cameroon
6. ASANTEMAN Pat Thomas (JAP) Ghana
7. SERVICE LIBRE Eyango Ndedi (DICK'S) Cameroon
8. CHRISTMS AFRICANA Kwadwo Donkoh (SHAKA) Azania
9. MAMA TONTA J. P. Wandji (SOWETO) Cameroon
10. ABIOSUNNI Gaspar Lawal (HOT/CAP) Nigeria
12. MY VISION Ebenezer Obey (OBEY) Nigeria
13. AYAYI Adomako Nyamekye (YEB) Ghana
14. MOVIN' Jackie Esam (BMCA) Cameroon
15. NA MALA Penda Dalle (DICK'S) Cameroon

Chart courtesy of AFROBOOM RECORDS,
135 Clarence Road London E5 8EE (Mail order and distribution only

Poets' Corner

Why Cry For Me?

Why are you crying
For me?
The stab is in me
The pain is in me
So let me cry
My own cry
Do not cry for
What you see
But let me cry for
What I feel
You see the pain
In me
But I feel the pain
In me
So why cry for what
You see
To deprive me from
Crying for what
I feel?

Ato Imbeah

talking drums 1985-12-09 educating women for progress