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Osibisa - Osibisa CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.75 | 74 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
4 stars Never thought you'd find an African group on the ProgArchives, uh? Although based in London, this group's members are all Western Africans (from Ghana, Nigeria and such), and Osibisa's first few records are much worth the inclusion here. A few hints of the progressiveness (outside of the Roger Dean superb artwork sleeve that struck imaginations with those flying predator elephants) are the line-up, the length of the tracks and the production job of Tony Visconti. Leader Teddy Osei on flute, sax, percussions and lead vocals was a formidable showman (and a groundbreaking songwriter), while second man Tonton provides the strong brassy sound of Osibisa and is also writing .

With the real impressive opening track, The Dawn, Osibisa strikes real strong with lengthy intro (warning up about the trip you are about to experience over a farmhouse at dawn), delicious flutes imaginative African rhythms and some psychedelic jazz rock influences and a wee bit of Ian Anderson on flute impersonation around the end of the track. This track will become one of their signature tracks in concert and was played in concert throughout their whole career. Gong Gong is an incredibly infectious groove , developing plenty of brassy answer providing plenty of drama and a superb percussive break, before picking up the groove. Ayiko Bia is probably their most African track, but they managed to hold our attention with a searing Santana-sounding guitar solo (further enhanced by the congas).

Side 2 starting out with Akwaaba (not their best track, and it is a bit overloaded musically speaking) is a bit less impressive, but remains of an excellent caliber. Oranges does regain the superb musicality of the first side, but the enthusiasm remains a bit tamer even if there are some brilliant moments, most notably the jazzy guitar solo. Phallus C is certainly the highlight of this side of the vinyl and making strong groovy statement, and its title leaves little hidden about their intentions regarding the other half of the Human race. The last track does show that they do have something else in mind, though ;-) with its soul-ish vocals, and great Hammond organs.

A stunning debut for Osibisa, certainly a product of its time (the early 70's were THE period, right? ;-), a fascinating run through one of the best example of complete fusion of African, Latino, psychedelic and jazz-rock sounds. Much worth the investigation for just about anyone, especially those having a slight xenophobia also exerting pressure in their musical tastes.

Sean Trane | 4/5 |


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