Ghanian musician, Producer, and arranger Ebo Taylor is not a household name here in the States. However, over the last six decades he has had a massive influence over music coming out of Ghana. Taylor’s ability to mix traditional African rhythms with Funk and Soul have made his records coveted among African and Afro-Beat record collectors. Having worked with such heavyweights such as Fela Kuti, Apayge Show Band CK Mann and Pat Thomas among others, these Mr. Bongo reissues of the sought after 1977 s/t release Ebo Taylor and the 1980 record Conflict are a great introduction to those of you unfamiliar with his work.
His self titled release, Ebo Taylor, highlights his production and arranging skills and features Arthur Kennedy on trumpet, George Abunyuwah on tenor saxophone, George Amissah on alto saxophone, and the Ankrah Sisters on vocals ( they were the daughters of Ghana’s first military Head of State, the late General J.A Ankrah.) Taylor was trying to break free of the hold of the colonial influence on Highlife music and in African traditions in music itself. In every track of the record, Taylor has injected Funk, Jazz, and Afro Beat, and this combination really makes this record stand out in its own way. A funky rhythm here, a Jazz horn there, this record’s sound has held up in the 30+ years it has been around, so much that Taylor was sampled by Usher recently.
1980’s Conflict, one of Taylor’s most refined records, has Taylor impregnating the Highlife grooves with heavy Funk and even some Soul. The addition of a track based on traditional Asafo songs, “Victory” sits along side heavier Funk infused tracks like “Love and Death” and the freak out African jam “Christ Will Come” referencing the second coming of Christ. All in all, Conflict touches all the bases and as said earlier, a refined and well rounded effort.
If you haven’t heard Ebo Taylor, both of these records are a really great introduction to his work, Highlife music, and will no doubt lead you to dig deeper into this genre. This music may even lead you to read up on the history of the music itself, the struggle of the artists that make the music, and how much this kind of music has influenced musicians throughout the world.
Buy the records from Mr. Bongo here.