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Osibisa - Woyaya CD (album) cover

WOYAYA

Osibisa

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.10 | 57 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars This is a great snapshot of a band that had frankly become much less interesting by the time I discovered them via their one and as far as I know only international hit “Sunshine Day” in the mid-seventies. Here they have all the ingredients to produce an engaging and soulful album: lots and lots and lots (did I mention “lots”?) of percussion, much of it of African origin; complex and lively beats delivered with congas and bongos as well as more traditional drums; melodic instrumentation delivered by flute, clarinet, and flugelhorn; and light sprinklings of keyboards and clavinet combined with some Santanaesque guitar work throughout. Of yeah – and a bitchin’ Roger Dean cover.

And the band does deliver. This is a thoroughly enjoyable listen, and a great example of early blending of progressive rock into a true world music sound, long before such music became popular or even widely available.

The opening track “Beautiful” is just that, a slowly-building blend of percussion, congas and flute that eventually gives way to a bevy of harmonic vocals with a kind of sanguine message of inclusion and community that one can’t help but feel good listening to. “Y Sharp” opens a bit like “Sympathy for the Devil” but quickly morphs into a brass and jazzy number that includes some tight guitar work, and again loads of interesting bits of percussion.

“Spirits” is slower with more emphasis on analog keyboards and guitar, and wanders on for several minutes in a decidedly improvisational jam of piano, guitar and African drums. The guitars soar here, and keep the tempo fast and lively. This is the most Santana-like track on the album, and also the song that stands up best over the thirty- plus years since its release. “Survival”, on the other hand, is heavily drum-driven and at times breaks into an almost-James Brown funk groove. “Move On” consists of jazzy piano and brass interspersed with brass and an Edwin Starr-like tenor vocal with anti- war lyrics and bouncy piano. This one has the most dated sound on the album, but provides an interesting contrast to the more psychedelic peace-and-love songs of their contemporaries at the time.

With “Rabiatu” the band drifts well into African folk territory and back to the flute and conga-driven folksy sound of the opening track. The closing title track is a singalong feel-good anthem type of song that more than likely became a concert staple for the band in later years.

There aren’t many progressive bands who can claim roots in Ghana (although the members at the time of this recording actually came from England but originated from throughout the African continent). I said this is an enjoyable listen and it is. Highly recommended to anyone who likes their prog mixed with plenty of percussion, exotic instrumentation, and a highly danceable beat. Four stars.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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