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OSIBISA

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Ghana


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Osibisa biography
OSIBISA means Criss-Cross rhythms that explode with happiness, and what a precise name, the first thing that anybody who listens this band admires is the fantastic rhythm section, combining drums and bass with tribal percussion instruments in a delightful way, even Uriah Heep couldn't resist the chance to add their percussion to the song Look at Yourself.

But if this was their only particularity, they wouldn't be added to Prog Archives, this group of talented African and Caribbean musicians blend African chants with Psychedelia in the most incredible and skilled way, long before the term World Music was coined, it's so well crafted that nothing sounds artificial, the music flows from start to end with joy for live and sadness of centuries of oppression and adding a spectacular show on stage.

The story of OSIBISA starts in London in 1969, when three musicians from Ghana ( Teddy Osei on the Sax, Sol Amarfio on the drums and Mac Tontoh on the trumpet); join Spartacus R from Grenada who played the bass and complemented perfectly the African percussion, Roger Bayle from Trinidad and Tobago on the keyboards and Wendel Richardson from Antigua on the lead guitar.

Very soon they found another member, Asisi Amao from Nigeria who added extra percussion plus tenor Sax. and in that moment OSIBISA was born.

During the next two years they were preparing their first album but in 1970 they released their first and very successful single: "Music for Gong Gong" that caught attention from all the world.

In 1971 they release the fantastic "Osibisa" with an extremely beautiful art cover by a young painter named Roger Dean.

From the beginning this album broke schemes, the opener "The Dawn" starts as a tribal ceremony to receive the day with complex percussion surrounded by birds and sounds you could easily listen in central Africa, but soon the vocals and instruments prove us that they were incredibly talented to blend different influences that go from, Hendrix, Santana, Bob Marley, R&B, Jazz and all the British Psychedelia they listened and assimilated during the years they were in England, this capacity to blend styles supposedly incompatible is what took them close to Progressive Rock.

But my favorite song from this album is Ayko Bya, a total tribal chant with an amazing organ to perfectly backup the contrapuntist vocals between two singers as if they were in a contest trying to get more complex than it's predecessor , simpl...
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Buy OSIBISA Music


Happy ChildrenHappy Children
Import
REPERTOIRE 2012
Audio CD$10.04
$10.02 (used)
Very Best Of OsibisaVery Best Of Osibisa
Import
Neon Netherlands 1997
Audio CD$4.05
$6.99 (used)
OsibisaOsibisa
Import
Aim Records 1993
Audio CD$9.70
$9.69 (used)
Osibisa/WoyayaOsibisa/Woyaya
Import · Remastered
Bgo 2004
Audio CD$11.92
$11.91 (used)
Welcome HomeWelcome Home
Import
AIM RECORDS 1997
Audio CD$9.73
$9.72 (used)
HeadsHeads
Import
AIM RECORDS 1994
Audio CD$10.22
$10.21 (used)
Mystic EnergyMystic Energy
Songhai Empire Records 1994
Audio CD$9.95
$4.89 (used)
WoyayaWoyaya
Import
Aim Records 1993
Audio CD$10.44
$5.37 (used)
Osee YeeOsee Yee
Golden Stool 2009
Audio CD$10.42
$8.96 (used)
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OSIBISA shows & tickets


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OSIBISA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

OSIBISA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.70 | 52 ratings
Osibisa
1971
4.10 | 55 ratings
Woyaya
1971
3.48 | 18 ratings
Heads
1972
3.61 | 12 ratings
Happy Children
1973
3.24 | 8 ratings
Osibirock
1974
3.96 | 5 ratings
Super Fly T.N.T
1974
2.88 | 9 ratings
Welcome Home
1976
2.88 | 6 ratings
Ojah Awake
1976
2.04 | 4 ratings
Mystic Energy
1980
3.00 | 1 ratings
African Flight
1981
3.00 | 1 ratings
Monsore
1995
3.00 | 1 ratings
Sunshine Day
2002
3.00 | 1 ratings
African Dawn, African Flight
2003
4.80 | 6 ratings
Osee Yee
2009

OSIBISA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.08 | 7 ratings
Black Magic Night: Live at the Royal Festival Hall
1977
0.00 | 0 ratings
Unleashed
1983
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live At The Marquee
1984
0.00 | 0 ratings
Live at Cropredy
1998

OSIBISA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

OSIBISA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 2 ratings
Sunshine day, The Pye/Bronze anthology
1999
0.00 | 0 ratings
Very Best of Osibisa (Neon)
2000
1.10 | 2 ratings
The Very Best Of Osibisa
2001
3.53 | 6 ratings
Osibisa/Woyaya
2004
4.50 | 2 ratings
Wango Wango - The Ultimate Collection
2004
2.05 | 3 ratings
The Very Best Of Osibisa (Golden Stool)
2009

OSIBISA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
best Collection
2000

OSIBISA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Osibisa by OSIBISA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.70 | 52 ratings

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Osibisa
Osibisa Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy

4 stars Although OSIBISA is primarily a band from the African nation of Ghana, it didn't form there. Four members from Ghana met three others from Caribbean nations in London in 1969 and so began their unique and catchy brand of Afro-funk jazz fusion. Their music is an eclectic fusion of various types of African and Caribbean music with particular emphasis on the local African form of Highlife but they also include a healthy dose of jazz, rock, Latin and R&B. I share the overwhelming opinion that OSIBISA is indeed the African version of Santana. There are a few tracks that could easily be slipped onto an early Santana album and no one would notice. The result of all this fusion is a vibrant, energetic and melodic percussion dominated big sound that I find quite uplifting.

The band put out the rumors that their name means "criss cross rhythms that explode with happiness." What a great advertising method it was however the name is actually derived from "osibisaba" which means nothing more than "highlife" in Fante which is an indigenous language of Ghana. OSIBISA actually enjoyed mild success in the US with both their first two albums scoring mild success on the Billboard Top 200 possibly helped by the fact that a prolific Roger Dean contributed his artistic talents to the album covers. OSIBISA also was one of the first bands to popularize the term "world music" and influenced a gazillion others to follow their multi-cultural cross pollination. A very pleasant debut album where you can expect a big full sound delivering happy and upbeat harmonies and rhythms very much in the style of early Santana.

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 Heads by OSIBISA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.48 | 18 ratings

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Heads
Osibisa Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The cut-off point for prog fans, 'Heads' is the last Osibisa album to feature the group's original and distinct afro- jazz style, though the poppier elements that would come into play on next album 'Happy Children' are already prevalent. And it's a shame, not because 'Heads' is a bad album, but because Osibisa' second release 'Wowoya'('Heads' predecessor) was so good. A cool, detached and mellow mixture of African beats, Caribbean rhythms, jazzy textures and psych-tinged rock, 'Wowoya' is Osibisa's stand-out album, graced, just like the group's self-titled debut, by a beautiful Roger Dean-drawn cover. 'Heads' still features elements of it's predecessor's style, with jazzy organs, tribal percussion and hip-swinging beats brewing up another highly infectious dose of Afro-Caribbean rock, yet the group were becoming popular and that, as we all know, is usually a recipe for sonic homogenisation. Still, 'Heads' is an enjoyable album nonetheless, both fresh and funky and almost like an African version of Chicago thanks to the powerful horn section. Although more mainstream in it's approach this is still worth the effort, and those yet to explore the delights of Osibisa are urged to seek out all three of their original albums. It's a shame that they couldn't follow-up 'Wowoya' with a similarly-styled effort, yet in the end 'Heads' will do.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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 The Very Best Of Osibisa (Golden Stool) by OSIBISA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2009
2.05 | 3 ratings

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The Very Best Of Osibisa (Golden Stool)
Osibisa Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

2 stars (First review of this album.) OSIBISA is probably the best known 70's Fusion band from Africa and pioneers of the so called World Music. Most players were from Ghana but were operating in London. Their first two albums from the beginning of the decade, Osibisa and Woyaya, are considered their best. Funky, rhythmic Fusion with lots of woodwind, brass, excellent electric guitar and percussion, and with a strong Western African feel (a cousin to that of Latin-American). The band continued to make albums but they eventually got poorer and poorer, less and less original - often even disco-ish - as can be seen from the ratings here. And that notion gets pretty clear with this compilation too.

Roger Dean (the illustrator known by all YES fans) has done many of the later album covers too, including this one. That, and the title "The Very Best Of" makes one expect a good, well done compilation but these expectations are not fulfilled very well. It's definitely more recommended to get the double issue of the mentioned first albums. Not that all of the later stuff is crap. Some songs are quite listenable even if they don't have much in common with the Fusion they started with. And of course it's interesting to hear how they changed through the years. Well, at least they always kept that happy, joyous mood.

What a decent compilation should do is give the listener deeper information of the band. In that sense too this is a let-down. Especially I would have wanted to get the release years of each track. Albums are mentioned but not their release years, strange!

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 Osibisa by OSIBISA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.70 | 52 ratings

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Osibisa
Osibisa Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

3 stars As someone who passed through a significant world music phase and still enjoys ethnic fusion, I was long overdue to check out the primordial blend offered up by OSIBISA before the genre even had a name. Hailing from 1971, their debut not surprisingly incorporates the progressive music of its day into an appealing mix of R&B, African, and Latin sounds. SANTANA certainly provides a solid point of reference but OSIBISA is more ensemble oriented and casts a wider net.

The intention from the get go was to produce joyous music that gets you or at least your chromosomes dancing, and the objective seems to have been met. While the group sound is clearly much happier than its analog in America, its general heaviness and incessant emphasis on rhythm do not produce the same effect on this listener, especially when compared to the more melodically oriented practitioners of the 80s and beyond - JULUKA, TOURE KUNDA, and HABIB KOITE to name a few. In the meantime, drum solos are the aural equivalent of traffic snarls for me in 2011, so, while I can appreciate that times were different, it doesn't mean I want to go back to something I never experienced in its proper context in the first place.

Still and all, OSIBISA offers enough striking material assessed on its own merits, as well as blueprints for the world music artists who followed, to merit their groundbreaking status. The best examples here of each respective aspect would be "Music for Gong Gong" and "Ayiko Bia". One of the group's strong suits is their expressive use of wind instruments, mostly brass, and "Oranges" provides the juiciest example herein. I am intrigued by the lyrical concept of "Phallus C", but the words are hard to make out and nowhere could I find them online. It almost sounds like an indictment of stereotypes around penis length and girth based on race, but musically leaves me cold. "Thing about the people" would seem out of place in lesser hands but actually works well as a closing number, solidifying the group's versatility in the realm of political protest. Lyrics aside, this one is worth it for the organ work even relative to the keyboard standards set earlier in the disk.

I don't imagine I will be criss crossing these rhythms with high frequency, but I can certainly understand the buzz and the role this band could play as a portal to the world music scene for progressive afficionados.

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 Woyaya by OSIBISA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.10 | 55 ratings

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Woyaya
Osibisa Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Woyaya by OSIBISA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.10 | 55 ratings

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Woyaya
Osibisa Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Norbert

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.

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 Happy Children by OSIBISA album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.61 | 12 ratings

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Happy Children
Osibisa Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Heads by OSIBISA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.48 | 18 ratings

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Heads
Osibisa Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars By Heads, the formula of the first two Osibisa albums was beginning to wear a little thin. It's still perfectly pleasant fusion, but by this point the songs get a bit too repetitive (like opener Kokorokoo, which could have done with being a few minutes shorter), and dismayingly the band seem to tone down their sound here and there in an attempt to reach a mainstream audience - but if they have to lose their soul and their cultural identity in doing so, where's the victory in that? It's still a reasonably enjoyable listen if you are already an Osibisa fan, but it's hardly their finest hour.

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 Woyaya by OSIBISA album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.10 | 55 ratings

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Woyaya
Osibisa Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Osibisa by OSIBISA album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.70 | 52 ratings

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Osibisa
Osibisa Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars OSIBISA may have been a band out of the UK but it's seven members were from Ghana (3), Grenada, Antigua, Nigeria and Trinidad.The band's name apparently means "Criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness". An apt description. You feel like your listening in on a celebration as they woop it up vocally as percussions, horns, flute, organ and guitar standout. Interesting that this has a Roger Dean cover before even YES had one. So yeah this is a lot of fun.

"The Dawn" is my favourite track once the vocal expressions die down and the music becomes the focus. Flute leads then horns before the organ comes in around 2 1/2 minutes. Guitar before 4 minutes as the organ floats in the background.Big finish to this one. "Music For Gong Gong" is catchy with horns and percussion. Organ before 3 minutes. Someone is blowing a whistle at one point.

"Ayiko Bia" has some weird vocals before the music comes in. More of those vocals again. Not a fan of this one although the guitar is good before 4 minutes. Again a big finish. "Akwaaba" opens with percussion and vocal expressions along with horns. Guitar before 2 minutes then the organ leads a minute later.

"Oranges" is great until the vocals arrive after 2 minutes. Catchy stuff though. "Phallus C" is interesting because the vocals remind me of Joe Jackson (haha). I keep thinking eighties. Love the percussion late. "Think About The People" reminds me of SANTANA, at least the percussion does.

A good album no doubt but I must admit I was hoping more for something like EAST OF EDEN.

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Thanks to ivan_2068 for the artist addition.

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