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Monday, 12 June 2017

Sweet Talks "The Kusum Beat" 1976 Ghana Afrobeat

Sweet Talks "The Kusum Beat" 1976  excellent Ghana Afrobeat  recommended..! 
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Sweet Talks were amongst the top five most popular bands in Ghana during the 1970s having recorded a string of hit albums. ‘The Kusum Beat’ was originally released in 1974 and became a household favourite with heavy emphasis on the ‘Afro’ through its traditional rhythms and motifs, blended together into a modern mix that combined highlife, funk and Afrobeat.
Like a small handful of seminal Ghanaian albums, The Kusum Beat has stood the test of time and sounds as original and unique today as it did back in 1974. Original pressings are in high demand and can be found on record exchanges for significant prices. This was the second album from the band formerly known as ‘El Dorados’, later to change their name to ‘Medican Lantcis’ before settling on ‘Sweet Talks’ – they were live residents at the legendary ‘Talk of the Town’ nightclub in the port town of Tema near Accra. It is here they established a name for themselves as one of the most exciting young bands in the country.
Due to the popularity and commercial success of their first three albums – Adam & Eve, Kusum Beat and Spiritual Ghana – the band began touring on a regular basis and made it as far as Los Angeles. They went on to record what was to be their biggest selling record, the Hollywood Highlife Party LP, as well as some straight disco recordings aimed squarely at the burgeoning American market.
The Kusum Beat is far from typical of their trademark sound but shows just how versatile an outfit they were able to turn their hands to any one of a number of styles. It’s a great reminder of how open-minded, experimental and curious the music scene in Ghana was in the first half of the 1970s.
“A heavy funk beat that could compete with Fela Kuti, Geraldo Pinto or Moussa Doumbia”....~


Picked up for reissue in 2010 but first released in 1974, 'The Kusum Beat' was a very popular album in The Sweet Talks' native Ghana. An original copy will now cost you approxiamtely the GDP of a small African nation, but thankfully we can all savour the fusion of highlife, funk and Afrobeat for a far more reasonable price....Highly Recommended!.......~


The musical revolution in Ghana took an effective new turn around early 70’s. In this period Ghanaian musicians rediscovered their roots and started exploiting their very resourceful musical heritage. The Sweet Talks was formed in December 15th, 1973, by Jonathan Abraham, proprietor of The Talk of the Town Hotel in Tema. The group was under the leadership of Smart Nkansah and included the vocalists A.B.Crentsil and P.S. Flyne, the trumpet player Tommy King.

The Sweet Talks carved a niche for itself as the crowd pulling band of Ghana. The "Kusum Beat" album was their second LP and perfectly in line with the aspirations of the new era. The Beat was an evolution of indigenous rhythms from the Upper, Central and Western Regions of Ghana adopted, polished and put into the modern dance context, the Kusum Beat....~


A strong distillation of the best kind of West African, early 70s afro-funk. Retaining african roots (sung in native language) and also exploring the endless, early 70s possibilities. The politics, the economics, the native culture, the music scene; it all translates into a positive funky statement. Then, just like that, it's over 28 minutes later. They have done it up in a mini-lp format, so it has the feel of a sweet little find. Like you just dug it out of a crate covered with scorpians in the hot Ghanian countryside. Sweet Talks were a large, horn heavy outfit, relatively poplular in early, 70s Ghana. This is their most african rooted effort. Scorpians not included. Funky, danceble Kusum Beats included......ByScott McWade....~


The sweet palm wine ductility of 1970s Ghanaian dancefloor highlife mingles here with the Afro-Americana rolling in from next-door Nigeria. “Kyekye Per Aware” is Sweet-Talks-does-Fela. The other tracks are not. “Oburumankoma” toys with a fanfare trumpet, grins, changes direction, laughs, changes direction again. The highlife keeps things light and fast, the trumpets keep it earthed and funky, and the lead singer has his own version of the funk uh-huh—somewhere between a come-on and an asthmatic cough. Kusum means native, local, in other words, Ghanaian—these men were patriots, and coastal Ghana pervades the album. Everything on The Kusum Beat is superb: sparking, tight, playful, fresh. It should have been reissued years ago. Thank you Soundway for doing the needful....~

The 12-member strong Sweet Talks were one of Ghana's biggest bands of the '70s. That popularity allowed them the opportunity to tour worldwide and record in Los Angeles. Western influences of funk, jazz and salsa mix seamlessly with highlife and Afrobeat on their second album, 1974's The Kusum Beat. Opener "Akampanye" sets everything up just right with an effervescent, simmering traditional highlife groove that soon boils over into a full-out jam thanks to an outburst of horns and syncopated percussion. The rest of this too short EP is just as charming and dance floor-friendly. Particularly noteworthy is the barnstorming "Eyi Su Ngaangaa," which marries an entrancing Fela-like repetitiveness with the power of an elastic funk groove, and the quirky "Oburumankoma," with its military-style horn motif and sweet Farfisa organ touches. As lead singer AC Crentsil testifies on one of the few English lyrics here: "It's a nice beat, man." (Soundway) ....~

In his review last week of Amanaz`s Africa, Evan Conley describes how record collectors have been relentless in their pursuit of reissues of obscure African LPs  sprouting from the shelves of in-the-know record shops around the globe. There`s no question that the popularity of finding the most forgotten, poorest quality, least pressed records from some of the least well-known places on earth (Dahomey, Tanganyika, Ubangi-Shari, take your pick) is continually on the rise thanks to a growing network of amateur enthusiasts and ethnomusicologists alike. 
It thus comes as a minor surprise that Soundway, ever the leaders in Dark Continent crate-digging, have chosen a comparatively popular Ghanaian group for their latest reissue. Sweet Talks can hardly be counted as obscure: They were one of Ghana`s biggest groups in the 1970s and made it to a point in their career where they could tour regularly behind a substantial discography and record halfway around the world in Los Angeles. There were a few essential ingredients that contributed to their quick, early success. Jonathan Abraham, the band`s founder, was also manager of the buzzing Talk of the Town hotel in Accra`s main port of Tema. Sweet Talks were in an excellent position from the moment of their creation as one of two house bands for the hotel (the Talkatives were the other). Abraham was also either smart or lucky to bring together established singer AB Crentsil, who had previously helmed the El Dorados, and guitarist Smart Nkansah, who had been in Yamoah`s Guitar Band. The playing time and personnel before they ever released a record cannot be discounted when discussing the quality of their output. 
People and practice are nothing without the music, of course, and here is where Sweet Talks were particularly clever. The dozen-strong group blended Ghana`s best known musical export, highlife, with roots folk and contemporary funk sounds of the time  even the youths of Accra bored by guitar highlife`s ubiquity in the 1960s found something fresh in the Kusum (native or from Ghana) beat. Opening track Akampanye sums up this blend of the traditional and the modern, from the very basic keyboard opening to the explosion of horns and brisk percussion. That`s what they call, the kusum beat, Crentsil intones with a slight accent. Now here we go with it. 
Those are nearly the only English words on this album, but songs like Eyi Su Ngaangaa and Kyekye Pe Aware mix Western guitar grooves and brass backing with Fela Kuti-like rhythmic repetition to demonstrate an awareness of what was happening on the other side of the Atlantic. The influences aren`t always obvious, partly because they are so disparate  maybe it was jazz horns they tried to invoke, or maybe it was more salsa from Latin dance bands (an early highlife influence). Ultimately, it didn`t matter: Their brand of highlife was successful enough to produce three LPs (The Kusum Beat was the second) and garner acclaim beyond their native Ghana. 
The postscript to Sweet Talks is almost as fascinating as the music: Nkansah left in 1976 to form his own group, the Black Hustlers, and Crentsil later fell out with Abraham over allegations of mismanagement. The group`s dissolution was accelerated by Ghana`s growing economic trouble and an 8 p.m. curfew instituted by the unstable, mercurial military rule of Jerry Rawlings. Crentsil later found success as a solo artist, Talk of the Town still exists in Tema, and highlife has recently experienced a resurgence in the updated form of hiplife. Still, it is the collective achievement of Sweet Talks that rings the loudest for each of its protagonists. Soundway may not have scraped the bottoms of Accra`s most mysterious bins for this one, but sometimes there`s a good reason things get popular. The Kusum Beat is a sterling example....By Patrick Masterson...~


The Kusum Beat album was originally released in Ghana in 1974 and became a household favourite with heavy emphasis on the ‘Afro’ through its traditional rhythms and motifs, blended together into a modern mix that combined Highlife, Funk and Afrobeat...~ 


Tracklist 
A1 Akampanye
Composed By – B. D. Sangari*
Vocals – A. B. Crentsil*, P. S. Flyne*
A2 Mampam Sukuruwe
Composed By, Vocals – A. B. Crentsil*
Vocals – P. S. Flyne*
A3 Eyi Su Ngaangaa
Composed By – Arthur Kennedy
Vocals – P. S. Flyne*
B1 Oburumankoma
Composed By – J. Y. Thorty*
Vocals – A. B. Crentsil*, P. S. Flyne*
B2 Sasa Obonsam
Composed By – J. Y. Thorty*
Vocals – A. B. Crentsil*, P. S. Flyne*
B3 Kyekye Pe Aware
Composed By – Arthur Kennedy
Vocals – P. S. Flyne* 

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