Jun 8, 2011
Rob - Funky Rob Way
Rob "Roy" Raindorf is one of the most enigmatic artists to come out of Ghana. Born in Accra in 1949, he appeared from nowhere with a unique and twisted sound. An admirer of American artists Otis Reading, James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Ray Charles, Rob began his trade by learning the piano at a music school in Cotonou, Benin. When his education ended, he ventured out to make what money he could by getting gigs with the movers and shakers of the Beninese music scene, namely Orchestre Poly-Rythmo as well as the Black Santiagos. Absorbing and learning the intricacies of music composition, Rob returned to Ghana where he began to write his own songs and eventually sought the backing of a band, specifically one which possessed horns. In 1977, a young Rob travelled to the city of Takoradi in western Ghana to approach an army band named Mag-2 whom he had seen perform in Accra. Mag-2 had an entire section of its ensemble dedicated to horns and some of the most sophisticated music equipment available in Ghana at the time - Hofner guitars, Yamaha keyboards and the like. Belonging to the "magnificient" second battalion of the Takoradi-based army unit, original founder Amponsah Rockson decided to aptly name the band "Mag-2." Joining the army during the 1970s was often an easy decision, particularly for musicians, since the army provided not only good music equipment but basic services such as food and medical care.
Mag-2 was essentially filled with the best elements of "The Parrots," a highlife band in which Amponsah was the lead guitarist. Their primary task was to entertain soldiers and with the army tour bus, perform from town to town as well as in reputable venues in the captial. Enticed by the style of music Rob had proposed, Mag-2 bahttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifcked the Ghanaian sensation on two of his most astonishing records - his first and second albums - "Funky Rob Way" and "Make it Fast, Make it Slow," both of which were recorded at Essiebons studios in Accra.
Despite Rob's training and musical education, Amponsah was responsible for the vast majority of the compositions, such as building the chord progression and arranging the horns that Rob craved. Rob would even wait for the Mag-2 maestro's cue to begin singing.
There were early successes but a once-unflinching interest in Afrobeat began to wane by the early 1980s and Disco Boogie rapidly became the vogue style around which label owners and music producers sought to capitalize upon. The style Rob had shaped his career around was in decline and an adequate income consequently became a major concern, forcing him to travel to Hamburg, Germany in search of a financial backer.
In 1977, a young Rob travelled to the city of Takoradi in western Ghana to approach an army band named Mag-2 whom he had seen perform in Accra. Mag-2 was essentially filled with the best elements of The Parrots, a highlife band in which Amponsah Rockson was the lead guitarist. Their primary task was to entertain soldiers and with the army tour bus, perform from town to town as well as in reputable venues in the captial. Enticed by the style of music Rob had proposed, Mag-2 backed the Ghanaian sensation on two of his most astonishing records - his first and second albums - both of which were recorded at Essiebons studios in Accra. Analog Africa is re-issuing the first album Funky Rob Way, replacing the track Forgive Us All by Loose Up Yourself from the second album, Make it Fast, Make it Slow, because the former has already been licensed by the Hippo Records label for their Ghana Funk series...
...but don't worry you're not losing anything here really. Forgive Us All is an 8mn slow-funk burner, not really essential, while Lose Up Yourself is an funky as Rob can be. Considering those two albums were pressed at 500 copies at the end of the 70s in Ghana and are now worth 500-1000$ when they appear occasionnaly on Ebay, this reissue is more than worth your money!! Rob's first album is really a more uptempo affair than the next one, and with the inclusion of Make It Fast Make It Slow on the first Ghana Soundz compilation on Soundway, you should get plenty enough of Rob hard driving afro funk!!
...This review never ends apparently! It appears that finally Hippo records haven't licended the Forgive Us All track, so Analog Africa have finally announced that "as a friend would say "trust your audience", thank you guys. "Forgive Us all" was licensed and included, "Loose up yourself" removed. The Test pressing had to be recut, some money was lost but I dont regret. Bless". So the Rob album to be released is finally the original one, in its original track order!! And since the second album album isn't planned for a reissue yet, the lucky ones who got an early CD promo copy managed to grab a remastered version of Loose up yourself, which I don't think is available anywhere... Well all in all, thank you Analog Africa!!
01. Funky Rob Way
02. Forgive Us All
03. Boogie On
04. Just One More Time
05. Your Kiss Stole Me Away