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Osibisa - Osibisa CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.75 | 74 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Osibisa were arguably the first rock band to be called ‘world music’, and the label is certainly appropriate. The band had a brief spot in the limelight with a couple of minor hits in the mid-seventies, but several of the musicians had careers dating back to Ghana in the 1950s. This album was their debut, and from the first track the band made it clear their sound was something completely new on the progressive landscape.

“Dawn” is full of the Caribbean percussion and rhythms that so distinguished the band, but combined with the Roger Dean cover, psychedelic guitars and complex keyboards their overall sound set them apart from pretty much anyone else at the time. Some have claimed that Osibisa were key in paving the way for the emergence of reggae and calypso music in popular culture in the seventies, and there may be some truth to that – the Wailers had been recording in Jamaica since the mid-sixties, and Neil Diamond put out ‘Tap Root Manuscript’ in 1970, but Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer never really hit the international spotlight until shortly after Osibisa paved the way with this album. So who knows really.

“Music for Gong Gong” is in much the same vein as “Dawn”, but here the horn section is even more prominent, and would become even more so after the band stepped away from the more psychedelic sounds in their music later in the decade. But that wouldn’t happen until after “Ayiko Bia”, which features some of the spaciest guitar in the band’s repertoire. “Akwaaba” is more subdued and jazzy, and with “Oranges” the band’s jazz influences shine through even more.

The last couple of tracks seem to lean a bit closer to filler, although “Phallus C” still includes quite a bit of tasty percussion, and “Think About the People” formed the basis for a number of anathematic social-commentaries the band would indulge in over the decade.

I would rate ‘Woyaya’ as the band’s most consistently excellent album, but this debut is certainly strong in its own right, and well worth adding to your collection if you have an ear for ethnic instrumentation, complex percussion, and upbeat progressive music. This is a solid four star effort, and highly recommended.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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