Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Osibisa - 1973 - Happy Children

Happy Children

01. Happy Children (6:31)
02. We Want to Know (Mo)    (5:56)
03. Kotoku (2:39)
04. Take Your Trouble... Go (4:05)
05. Adwoa (4:14)
06. Bassa-Bassa (4:55)
07. Somaja (3:34)
08. Fire (5:21)

- Jean-Karl Dikoto Mandengue / Bass
- Teddy Osei / Flute, Percussion, Saxophone
- Jean Roussel / Keyboards
- Mac Tontoh / Trumpet, Flugelhorn
- Sol Amarfio / Bongos, Drums

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.

1 comment:

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