Ginger Johnson and His African Messengers – Witchdoctor

When we hear that a long lost track from the Godfather of afro beat Ginger Johnson (George Folunsho) has been unearthed, it’s time to stand up and take notice. Johnson, somewhat mysterious, is a huge figure in the afro beat and London, England scenewhere Ginger and his Africam Messengers were the band to go to when artists needed afro cuban percussion and the like. Working along side some of the greats: Osibisa, Quincy Jones, Madeline Bell, Georgie Fame, as well as emntoring members of Cymande and a young man named Fela Kuti, Johnson is an iconic figure to say the least. You may not have heard of him, but his influence is everywhere: from playing with the Stones in Hyde Park to his music being featured in a James Bond film (besides this tremendous afro music he has made), among others. Championed by everyone from Tony Allen to Gilles Peterson to Louis Vega and more, his few Hi Life releases on Melodisc in the ’50’s and the previously reissued African Party record were thought to really be the only releases he had. Thankfully, music scholar and African music collector Uchenna Ikonne would go on to contact Johnson’s son Dennis Dee Mac Johnson, who turned up with a an original copy of “Witchdoctor” from the mid ’70’s on the small Afrodesia label. This record was restored and remastered by Claudio Passavanti at Doctor Mix Studios in London and is incredible. Not the same track as on the African Party record, it’s got fire and fervor that Johnson and his Messengers deliver with a force. The flip, “Nawa”, a track written by Chano Pozo and Dizzie Gillespie, show his solid Afro Cuban experience from the very first note. Another incredible record to say the least. Listen to both sides below. Originally put out on RSD 2019, here’s a chance to grab a copy of this heater. Purchase the record (limit 1) from the link after the stream.

Get the record here.

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