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Osibisa - Woyaya CD (album) cover



Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars The second album from Osibisa picks up where their stunning debut had left it, and goes a step further. Still produced by Tony Visconti and also doned with a stupendous Roger Dean artwork, there are few minor line-up changes but nothing that changed the band's superb sound.

Thunder and lightning opens up the first side and the track evolves with a superb flutes and slow African chants, before gradually picking up speed via their infectious conga beats. A constant progression leading to ecstasy, this song is real master strike and probably their peak in their lengthy discography. Coming up next is Y Sharp with its infernal rhythms and Fender Rhodes, and great guitars. Spirits Up Above ( a Holand Rasshaan Kirk cover) has a slow divinities invocation chants intro and soon develops into a frenzied and transient fast groove, making you wonder about that voodoo stuff. Survival is where these guys really come loose and let their African influences reeling down your brains before the tracks engage is some killer jazz-rock with spine-chilling chants and superb brass section providing the dramatic impact, breaks, counterpoints and a Coltrane-influenced sax solo. I have yet to meet someone that did not fall for these guys and no proghead should resist. Their joy and enthusiasm is so communicative that even KKK members would love it. Move On is almost explanatory, and hovers between Santana and African jazz. Rabiatu is yet another supeb moment where the flute dominates the speedy rhythms and great chants, interrupted by a percussive break when some whistles announces a great crescendo. Up last is the title track, another one of those signature tracks, which they played throughout their whole career, but it is a sing- along and of a lesser interest to progheads.

Although after this stunning album, Osibisa will change musical direction (but gradually so), they will become more commercial but also more downright African at times and will have an international hit in Sunshine Day in 76, but always retain certain integrity until the end of the decade. If you should want to investigate them further, I cab only advise you to work chronologically.

Report this review (#74908)
Posted Friday, April 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album continues where their debut ended. By this I mean it contains even more great Fusion Jazz blended with african rhytms. And an even better looking sleeve cover by Roger Dean. IMO one of his best ever.

Fisrt side begins with "Beautiful Seven", whish begins with a flute solo as moody as mentioned cover art. Then it breaks into frenzy rhytms and chantings before it ends with a reprise of the flute. "Y Sharp" is a pretty good Jazz Rock tune while "Spirits Up Above" is a slower one whish turns into faster pace with piano, then guitar and then horns.

So far a little more conventional than the debut album (nothing bad at all though). The second side begins with what is maybe the records best track, "Survival". It begins with frenzy drums and evolves to a groovy Funk song. A sound that continues on "Move On" while "Rabiatu" contains even more loveable rhytms than usual. The title track is IMO surprisingly the weakest. For some reason I don't like it's slower approach. It becomes better at the end though.

I don't think this album is as good as their first but that doesn't say very much.

Report this review (#84707)
Posted Monday, July 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another good album by our African friends of Osibisa. If you like their first album, you will like the second one too.

The album starts with my favorite Osibisa song "Beautiful Seven" that include a flute solo fallowed by a tam-tam solo, wow, thats my kind of music :)

"Y Sharp" fallow the same trend as the soncond song of their first album "Music For Gong Gong", lots of percussion and a sax solo.

"Spirits Up Above" is another highlight of the album, it starts out very soul but, the more the song goes, it change into a very good jazz groove with lots of percussion and a keyboards solo fallowed by a guitare solo, viva Africa ;)

"Survival" is another groovy percussion with horn section, you gota love groovy music because it what they are best at and this song shows it very well.

"Move On" is more funky, vocals and a groovy bass.

"Rabiatu" remind me of the song "Soul Sacrefice" by Santana, another very good song.

"Woyaya" is another song with vocals, more mellow, the song i like the least on the album.

Another album, another 4 Stars for Osibisa :)

Report this review (#84716)
Posted Monday, July 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
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.


Report this review (#108199)
Posted Saturday, January 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Those of us who were turned on by Osibisa's first album were blown away by their second, Woyaya. Inviting friends and lovers into the studio the band managed a live-in-the-studio sound that took the Osibisa spirit to a higher level. Along with original compositions, the band gives us a nice rendition of Rahsann Roland Kirk's "Spirits Up Above". The title track is beautiful, and the album is full of those great Osibisa rhythms. I defy anyone to sit still while listening to songs like "Move On"! And we get another great cover painting by Roger Dean, best known for his Yes album covers.
Report this review (#120290)
Posted Monday, April 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album and Osibisa is for me one of the major discoveries of the year. The art-work itself just prepares me for something special. And something special, it is. Mind expanding, no less.

The album opens with a cracking song full of flute and African drums in the fusion vein. Their use of flute reminds me of FOCUS. It is a mix of Netherlands, Ghana, Caribeen and Canterbury. The rest of the album continues down the same path. Always very interesting. Never boring. The music is very soulful at songs like Spirits Up Above and very playful at Move On. Some of the music on this album reminds me about CARAVAN and their mates at the shadows of the Canterbury Cathedral. This is perhaps why I really enjoy this album. This despite of Osibisa's music being firmly rooted in the African and the Latin-American tradition. SANTANA is a good reference too with the use of solo-guitars and brass. But Osibisa use alot more drums and rhythms than any other prog/fusion band I have ever heard. This is perhaps because African music is more based on beat than the European music scene. Which makes this album a bit of a revelation and a shock for a narrow- minded European like myself.

The quality of the music is in my view undisputed good. The opening track is excellent. So is the jazz improvisation Move On. The title track too is excellent. There is nothing here I do not like. Osibisa's brand of fusion has given my life more colours and joy. In particular, I love Osibisa's use of keyboards which I think is excellent. This is an excellent album.

4 stars.

Report this review (#220363)
Posted Tuesday, June 9, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
5 stars Criss-Cross Rhythms That Explode In Happiness

Sometimes the worst curse a band can face is releasing an excellent debut album, after a great release, people expect not only a good album but also better than the first one, something very hard to achieve, mainly because a new band is still in developing process and probably will change the sound, something that fans are nor ready to accept, so we often read about bands being called one hit wonders, because they were not able to at least repeat a good debut.

OSIBISA released a fantastic self titled debut, and almost immediately their second album "Woyaya", in other words they took the risk, but in this case they hit the nail in the head, ""Woyaya" is at least as good as their self titled album, with the advantage of being better recorded and proving the world it was not just good luck.

As OSIBISA usually does, the first track "Beautiful Seven" works like an introduction to the album, in the same way as "The Dawn", this opener sounds like a tribal ceremony receiving a new day, full of sounds of the jungle. But as the song advances we can notice we are before an outstanding band, the beautiful flute combined with ceremonial chants, a Psyche guitar "a la" SANTANA, narration and shouts, surprise any new listener that would not know what to expect next.

"Y Sharp" explores more the Afro Funk sound, with a Wah - Wah guitar, trumpets, Saxophone and a frenetic rhythm, but this is not as simple as it seems, the elaborate arrangements,controlled dissonances and Jazzy feeling, keeps the album in a great level.

"Spirits Up Above" is a strong combination of Jazz and Psychedelia, while Robert Bailey makes the Hammond cry, Loughty Amao, Teddy Osei and Mac Tontoh calm the mood with the wind instruments. But still OSIBISA has more to offer, the beautiful chants and elaborate vocal work combine the nostalgia of Blues with African tunes, if this wasn't enough the lengthy instrumental final section is an explosion of rhythm and melody, simply hallucinating.

"Survival" is what we should always expect from an African band of the early 70's and hardly find, a perfect fusion between the tribal African rhythms, Rock and, late Psychedelia and Funk, carefully balanced in order not to sound cheesy or vulgar, everything is in it's place, again a perfect hit.

"Move On" presents us a fantastic bass and percussion introduction, the sound of the congas, cowbells, bongos and drums melt together in a contagious rhythm, while the wind instruments add a Caribbean touch and the Hammond B3 screams in the background, can't get enough of OSIBISA. But the cherry in the top of the pie is the guitar performance by Wendel Richardson in the perfect style of Carlos Santana.

"Rabiatu" begins with Roy Bedeau and his powerful bass making the way for the explosion of percussion instruments that lead to another frenetic mixture of sounds and moods of the Dark Continent and a touch of Caribbean flavour provided by Roger Bayley from Trinidad & Tobago plus Wendel Richardson from Antigua who plays a killer guitar. The final percussion extravaganza is delirious.

When the listener believes things can't get better, comes "Woyaya", a magical and mysterious African Ballad with melancholic lyrics, oneiric Hammond and as usual perfect percussion, but this time with the addition of outstanding flute solos, one of the most beautiful tracks I ever heard. Even the strong accent in their English fits perfectly with the atmosphere.

Now, many people may believe I exaggerate with the rating, but I honestly believe this album is essential and a masterpiece, so you now where this is pointing, maybe the only doubt is the Progressive Rock element, but if this delicate fusion of styles, sounds and genres is not Prog, I still don't know what this word means.

So I have no other choice than rate "Woyaya" with 5 stars.

Report this review (#236949)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars From the opening thunderclap and haunting flute of "Beautiful Seven", I knew I was in for something special with this album, whose '70's vibe, instrumental exuberance, and rhythmic grooves strike a unique and irresistable appeal. Woyaya is unlike anything else I've heard, combining so much of what makes music good and delivering it with genuine excitement. Like the group sings in "Beautiful Seven": "We give you our treasure."

Throughout Woyaya we are gifted with fantastic instrumental playing and a contagious energy. The mix of solid instrumental jams, african percussion, and latin/caribbean/reggae elements make Osibisa a wonderful discovery. The density and variety of sounds makes for an engaging listen, and the fine performances show that there's a lot more going on here than mere dance grooves.

"Beautiful Seven" opens the album with an almost mystic feel, with a gentle flute solo giving way to a solid bass groove and vocal harmonies. In many ways, this is the most fusion/prog song of the entire album, being more about compositional narrative and experimentation than the wild jams which follow. "Y Sharp" follows with a bold brass shout chorus, leading in to fine guitar work. Things only get better with "Spirits Up Above", which moves from a soulful chior to a feverish guitar jam with a latin-feel. The closer is like an African-style ballad with an endearing feel and. Great!

With the only weak link being the dance-oriented funk tune, "Survival", Woyaya soars. It's unique sound and bouyant energy. Not to be missed!

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Vocals/Lyrics: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#277240)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Osibisa's second album 'Wowoya' would see the Afro-prog pioneers expand their sound to include more overtly jazzy overtones whilst also turning down the party atmosphere in favour of a more sedate and psychedelic feel. Again, guitarist Wendell Richardson and group leader, founder and saxophonist Teddy Osei are the dominant forces, but this time around the group's uplifting pallette of sounds features a more complex lilt that places 'Wowoya' much closer to the sounds of progressive rock. More thoughtful than their self-titled debut, 'Wowoya' is a complex and impressive album filled with dazzling instrumentation and a rich tapestry of African, Carribean and Western sounds and ideas that shows a band developing rapidly over a very short space of time. Fans of the group claim that this is their best album and it is hard to disagree. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Report this review (#284388)
Posted Monday, May 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Building impressively on the successes of their first album, Osibisa's Woyaya combines killer guitar playing in a classic rock or fusion mould (as on Y Sharp or Spirits Up Above) or delicate, gentle flute (as on Beautiful Seven) with the African rhythms of the band's legendary percussion section to create a true piece of world music, showing as it does the influence of three continents. There's even a bit of funk that works its way in on Survival and Y Sharp. The music is so wonderfully upbeat and cheerful that it's impossible not to say that the album fulfils the previous album's mission declaration of "criss-cross rhythms that explode in happiness". A very worthy addition to the band's discography.
Report this review (#490039)
Posted Monday, July 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars OSIBISA's second album released in the same year as the debut (1971) is a definite improvement.This is more mature as that party atmosphere from the debut is all but gone.To my ears they seemed to focus more on making serious instrumentals and they have succeeded in a big way because they sound incredible. We get another Roger Dean cover in the same style as the debut.

"Beautiful Seven" opens with thunder and rain as the flute comes in followed by a beat.Vocals after 2 minutes.The tempo picks up after 4 minutes as the percussion and flute lead. Horns kick in quickly on "Y Sharp" blasting away as the percussion continues. I like when the electric piano comes in after 3 1/2 minutes.Vocals follow. Love the guitar 5 minutes in.

"Spirits Up Above" opens with organ and a relaxed sound. I like it ! Horns join in as it stays laid back.Vocals after 1 1/2 minutes.The tempo picks up with drums, piano, horns and more. Guitar 5 1/2 minutes in. Nice. So much going on here.

"Survival" has these vocal expressions as lots of percussion and drum sounds join in. Cool sound here. A change before 2 minutes as the tempo picks up.Vocal melodies and a catchy sound. Horns and organ too. A sax solo before 5 minutes.

"Move On" has a catchy beat and I like the lyrics. "Rabiatu" features bass and drums before it gets fuller. A SANTANA vibe here. Back to percussion and bass as the horns join in again. "Woyaya" is an interesting track with organ,vocals and drums leading.

Less theatrics and frills on this one and a more professional sound all translates into this being a keeper. An easy 4 stars.

Report this review (#498882)
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The first thing that striked me about the second studio effort by Osibisa is artwork, Roger Dean seems to be not able to do wrong regarding album artworks. It is a real delight to have the Repertoire Records version, it looks really great. Osibisa is listed on ProgArchives as a band from Ghana, this is only partially true, Teddy Osei, Mac Tontoh and Sol Amarfio are really from Ghana, but the other four musicians come from Nigeria, Grenada and Trinidad. But this is not a major mistake, and I have to be glad that I discovered this band via ProgArchives. The title of the opening track may refer to the number of band members, and to the number of tracks on this album. Beautiful Seven is indeed a beautiful track, great flutes, african rythms, a positive, joyful vibe, one of the signature songs of Osibisa. Y Sharp is also a fantastic track, irrestibly joyful, nice pllaying on trumpet, sax, and the rythms are again brilliant. Spirits up Above is an excellent Roland Kirk Cover, well, I have not heard the original, but this is very good.:-) After this the quality drops a little bit with the two following tracks, but not a lot. Honestly, I don't really like the intro of Survival. Fortunately, the band gets back on track and they finish the album with two fabulous tracks, Rabiatu features outstanding bass playing, and the title track is a wonderful ballad like peace, great to sing it along.:-) Overall, this is a very well played and written joyful album, with some minor flaws, a strong four star album for me.
Report this review (#520223)
Posted Sunday, September 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Happiness is an angry elephant with wings.

Osibisa have self-professed on their debut album that their music is ''criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness'' and have promised to make us happy when we listen to their music. For this music lover, mission accomplished. This is by and far the happiest band I've ever come across, even beating out Yes at times. Like the debut album, Osibisa plays upbeat jazz-rock laced with African percussions and rhythms as well as Latin music ideas that spark of Santana. To stress the happiness factor, WOYAYA goes nowhere near the sometimes darker tracks on parts of the debut.

If you've ever gotten curious and listened to ''The Beautiful Seven'', it starts the album very well. The first half is nearly mystic with some of the most gorgeous ensemble vocals I've heard; I can tell that these guys are having fun as well as taking their happiness somewhat seriously. They convince you that they know what they're doing vocally, and that intangible works better on me as a listener than any type of skill. To icing the cake, it segues right into a powerful, flute driven jam that signifies everything great about this group.

Some direct correlations with the debut album are the tracks ''Rabiatu'' (sounds a bit like ''Ayiko Bia'' and ''Phallus C'' combined) and ''Move On'' (sounds like ''Think About the People''; it made sense when I found out Wendell Richardson wrote both). ''Spirits Up Above'' is slightly weaker than the rest due the slow dance pace at the beginning, but it soon picks up. ''Y Sharp'' and the title track are other highlights in this collection emphasizing the happiness attitude with Chicago-esque horn, Santana-like organs and Osibisa's own percussion drives.

WOYAYA is very attached to its predecessor with a bit more happiness added to it. It's a very good companion to OSIBISA that anyone open to world music along with jazz-rock might want to pick up.

Report this review (#595089)
Posted Friday, December 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Great world music but bland European jazz-rock: 7/10

WOYAYA's ridiculously upbeat jazz-rock, imbued with African and Caribbean influences, is particularly innovative for the early 70s and also helped to set world music as a marketable genre. OSIBISA's musicianship and creativity shines brilliantly when they play ethnic-oriented moments: Beautiful Seven is tropically vibrant, offering amazing bongo solo outro; Rabiatu, my favorite track and by far what I consider OSIBISA's pinnacle, virtually has no jazz fusion, instead, it brings SANTANA-influenced latin rock mixed with distinctively rhythmic, polyphonic and energetic West African music.

Sadly, OSIBISA hinders their utmost potential as they give far too much attention on performing jazz fusion which, frankly, feels generic most of the time. In the end, I see WOYAYA as a good (even if flat) jazz-rock album that occasionally astounded me with superb world music moments. Worth checking out nonetheless - who knows, my "good and bland" might be yours "absolutely amazing".

Report this review (#1790835)
Posted Thursday, October 5, 2017 | Review Permalink

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