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Osibisa - Happy Children CD (album) cover



Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars Happy Children represents the best of African rock, and there are more instrumentals on this pressing than that of most of Osabisa's catalogue. It runs by your ears like a concept album, but with no overtly discernable single message. It is conceptual in its production and instrumentation.

We Want To Know is the ultimate Osabisa song; it seems similar to early Earth, Wind, and Fire at first. However, the difference is like that between domestic honeybees and those who have been Africanized. It is Fire though that will be the song you play over and over again. This is the deepest and darkest of funk, and it grows on you like a man-eating jungle moss. Fire may be the one song shown on this site that will get a dull party up and dancing.

Though light-years away from other prog classics from this era this LP is a mighty statement from Africa, and should be sought out by those who want to move while they listen. From personal experience it is safe to say that Happy Children is a great motivator when cleaning the house on an otherwise boring Sunday morning.

Report this review (#94826)
Posted Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
4 stars Osibisa are a band mostly known for their up-tempo Afro-Caribbean percussive rave-ups, and maybe because their first 2 releases were lavishly presented in fantastic Roger Dean cover-art (which always is 'suggestive' for prog-heads.....) but that aside, the band produced some fine work which can be considered as 'progressive' music, after all, there weren't many bands (if any, to my knowledge) who sounded, or composed music like them.

By the time of this album, 'Happy Children' (their 4th), they were heading toward a more accessible style but without compromising the 'tribal' roots. Starting out almost in 'party mood' (very up-lifting and positive) we are greeted with "Is everybody ready... ?? - Beautiful children ready... ??" and the title song takes off on an exciting journey of funky clavinet and some well played brass lines with simple but effective riffs. The vocal chants in this song work well, too. 'We Want To Know (Mo)' is similar, but slower paced with some great percussion, cool bass playing and more of that clavinet. 'Kotoku' is an instrumental piece with a beautiful, laid-back melody, the use of muted trumpet giving it a hazy, 'after-hours' atmosphere. Some well arranged percussion tops off this fine track. 'Take Your Trouble... Go' is an excellent track, this time the guitar is up-front (I think it's the only guitar utilised, actually) and it gives the tune a 'rockier' edge. The shimmering electric piano playing (a Wurlitzer?) is a treat, as is the solo percussive work-out towards the end.

The second side opens with 'Adwoa', a vocal heavy arrangement with a string-synth background, some flute flourishes, and sounds more Caribbean than African. Next we have a strangely arranged composition, and possibly the most 'progressive' song on the album with 'Bassa Bassa'. Starting with an interesting rhythm in 9/8, a great Bass-line leading the way, vocal chants, organ, piano and brass enter quickly and occasionally the riff is broken up by a weird semi-tone riff featuring some 'wobbly' organ work - this track really shows us how eclectic this band can be. 'Somaja' is very African, complete with tribal chanting and multitudinous percussion - a very 'traditional' sounding piece indeed. Final song, 'Fire', is another excellent one that has a nice groove to it, a quite jammy vibe and more shimmering e-piano work, there's also a nice Bass-Guitar work-out in the middle. I would have to say that whilst Osibisa may not be appreciated by all hard-core prog-heads, this release is a nice addition to your collection and features exotic cover-art to boot.

Report this review (#108235)
Posted Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Happy Children is a touch better than Heads, revitalising the Osibisa sound by adding a more funk-influenced bassline courtesy of Jean-Karl Dikoto Mandengue, and a carefully-applied layer of keyboards played by Jean Roussel. Still, by and large this is the same sort of material as appeared on the previous three albums, and if you already own them you may begin to wonder why you'd want a fourth. Like the Ozric Tentacles, early Osibisa are a band where sometimes you can feel as though if you've heard one of their albums you've heard them all. Interesting, but the first two albums are a better pick.
Report this review (#509660)
Posted Friday, August 26, 2011 | Review Permalink

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