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4 stars Heads was the last album by Osibisa's original lineup. It lacks some of the spirit and mystery of the first two albums. And the band probably should have stayed with their producer rather than trying to produce on their own. At first listen it's a bit of a letdown after the Osibisa & Woyaya albums. But upon further listening you can appreciate the music and the playing. Heads has a more laid back, jazzy sound. The album still has a level of creativity that got lost on later more commercial, even disco-ish songs. The follow-up Happy Children was a good album, but Heads was the end of the classic Osibisa era.
Report this review (#120292)
Posted Monday, April 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars I can't deny that the quality of their music, the originality of their approach and some sort of nostalgia from my youth, make me a huge fan of OSIBISA, but being a fan doesn't make me a fanboy, and as much as I love their first two albums of the band, must accept that "Heads" is not in the same level, being that some of the originality is lost.

I'm not sure if the change of manager, the more commercial approach combined with the lack of a Roger Dean art cover, made me feel that the band was no more the same one I loved so much. This doesn't mean that the album is bad, by the contrary,it's still excellent, but it's obvious the priorities of OSIBISA were changing, they had grown a lot in popularity and wanted to grow more, sacrificing some of their musicality in favour of a mass appeal.

"Heads" starts with "Kokorokoo", as usual an introduction to a new day symbolized by the sound of a rooster singing in the dawn. This track is as good as anything they did before, still the subtle blending of Rock, tribal music, Funk and Psychedelia with massive use of Hammond is their characteristic, the dialogue between the vocalists and instruments and the native chorus are amazing as usual, a good start for the album.

"Wango Wango" is my first disappointment, seems as if they had sacrificed the native essence that took OSIBISA to the top for a very common Motown sound, something that is not bad "per se", but in the case of a band so identified with their ethnic roots implies a loss of personality.

Thanks God "So So Mi La So" takes us back to the early days, with a beautiful instrumental in which the Psyche guitar combines perfectly with the sweet flute and elaborate percussion, one of the best tracks in their career, the still can be faithful to their roots when they want.

"Sweet America" is a partial disappointment for the long time follower of OSIBISA, even when has some Prog overtones, specially when the flute and Hammond fuse, the vocals and lyrics are clearly far away of their root (seems like an attempt to reach the USA public), but the biggest problem is that the song is very monotone and repetitive.

Seems that OSIBISA were not totally ready to abandon their classical sound, because "Ye Tie Wo" is again a return to their natural tribal sound, with an extraordinary percussion and contrapuntist vocals, the jungle sounds in the background enhance the atmosphere.

It's the turn for "Che Che Kule", their first massive worldwide hit, contradictory to what normally happens, they didn't required to take down their level to be really popular. The song is an excellent mixture of African sounds with Arabic echoes and the most exciting percussion, the sounds, shouts and effects are a bonus,. excellent material despite the criminal overplay of the song in AM and FM radios, a real party of music and sounds.

"Mentumi" is probably the first Caribbean song (lets remember that by this point with Spartacus R the band had 3 musicians from that region of Central America), seems like a mixture of Calypso and African sounds, interesting material despite being a bit repetitive, something we can also say of the next track called "Sweet Sounds".

The album is closed with "Do You Know", an extremely beautiful ballad in which the Rock elements are preeminent over the African .- Caribbean influences, they start to leave their Psychedelic roots behind and advance towards a different form of Rock closer to some sort of light Prog with Pop leanings.

As I said in the first paragraph, "Heads" is not in the level of the self titled debut or the excellent "Woyaya", but still we are before a great band and a solid album that deserves no less than 3.5 stars.................As we know this rating is not possible in PA, so I will have to go with 4 stars, because 3 would be really unfair being that some tracks are real classics of the 70's.

Report this review (#237973)
Posted Monday, September 7, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.
Report this review (#500696)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.


Report this review (#720498)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2012 | Review Permalink

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