Aug 18, 2011
Ebo Taylor - Conflict (download)
Recently I discovered the amazing page of Gold Mining in Ghana, diggin' records in Africa. As he offers some great tunes, I thought I have to share it with all of you as well, therefore, here we go with one of the most wanted record: Ebo Taylor - Conflict.
Here's the orginal story from "Gold Mining in Ghana":
It took me ten long months to track down one of Ghana’s premier producer/arrangers, Ebo Taylor. In the end it was all worth it, for in the process I not only found a heap of recordings but also gathered a more substantive perspective on his contribution to the music scene via interviews with some of his fellow musicians.
Now, with the help of the label Strut and Miles from Soundway, he’s gained global recognition and is experiencing a musical resurgence both in Ghana and abroad. When I caught up with him he was preparing to embark on his second European tour and was talking about performing in Brazil before the end of the year.
All of this attention is due to his magnificent album, Love and Death, released in 2010. The Album is in fact a partial remake of his 1980 album, Conflict, which includes the song “Love and Death” as well as a vocal version of “Victory.” The album is by far one of my favorites by Ebo Taylor, partly due to the monstrous apocalyptic jam, “Christ Will Come.”
For those who aren’t as familiar with Ebo’s career, I present a quick run down.
Ebo Taylor had a hand in a good portion of the afro-funk created in Ghana during the 70s. He worked alongside, or produced, some of the most prominent Ghanaian musicians including Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, C.K. Mann and Pat Thomas. He’s credited for producing C.K. Mann’s Funky Highlife LP, the Apagya Show Band and several solo LPs, all of which are sought after by collectors worldwide.
Ebo was born in Cape Coast, and completed most of his education, including college, in and around there. He got his first musical breaks playing with the Star Gazers and then the Broadway dance band in the early 60s. He eventually left Broadway and moved to the UK to study at the Eric Guilder School of Music. According to him, it’s his formal training that’s allowed his music to finally transcend internationally, albeit 30 years later.
EBO: “In his [Nkrumah’s] era, we were given grants to educate ourselves in a music school. There you find George Lee, Eddie Quansah, Oscarmore [Ofori], Teddy Osei, Sol Amarfio… all at Eric Guilder [School of Music]. The result is: they were able to come out with Osibisa. Since Osibisa, we hadn’t had any good group to tour internationally. I think that maybe I’m filling the vacuum and others will follow.”
While there, he met fellow West African, Fela Ransome Kuti. They played in a band together and, on several occasions, discussed their mutual dissatisfaction with Highlife music. When we spoke, Ebo proclaimed Highlife music has often sounded like an African version of the foxtrot or waltz, a lasting effect of colonial influence on African rhythms.
EBO: “We were, all the time, discussing ways to develop our African music to enable us to get global attention. The only way to do it was to get into funk or jazz… that’s what we were… we were, primarily, jazz musicians. In London, we use play jazz clubs. I used to jam with Fela. He used Jam with me at various jazz clubs… Any time we got together, the black musicians in London, we were thinking of home and how to develop our own things instead of playing jazz or instead of playing Highlife, which we thought was foxtrot or like quickstep.”
Upon his return, he joined the Uhuru dance band in the early 70s and began working with singer/composer Gyedu-Blay Ambolley. Ambolley himself recalls Ebo’s eagerness to step out of the fold early on:
GYEDU: “…around 74-75 we formed another band. - that was Apagya Show band - Ebo Taylor left Uhuru, I left Uhuru because we started experimenting. Doing our own styles of music… our own creative music… Because we knew what people wanted. Though it was our style, it still had some groovy beats. The music would motivate you.”
Along with Bob Pinodo, inventor of the Sonbote rhythm, they produced a series of singles for Essiebons, including “Ma Nserew Me,” “Mumunde,” “Kwaku Ananse,””Nsamanfo,” and “Tamfo Nyi Ekyir.” These singles have since been re-released on Soundway compilations Ghana Soundz 1 & 2 as well as on last year’s Afrobeat Airways, which was put out by Analog Africa.
Ebo would leave the band shortly after and begin working as a producer for various musicians. He worked with C.K. Mann for the Essiebons label, before eventually releasing his on solo LP, My Love and Music featuring Pat Thomas on vocals, for George Prah at Gapophone records. The opening track, “Odofo yi Akyiri Biara,” was also featured on the Afrobeat Airways compilation. The song opens with a full horn section intro before leading into some Fela-esque keyboard arrangements. From the start, it was a distinct departure from the traditional Highlife sound of the time. The track’s placement was seemingly calculated. Ebo saw no reason why funkier numbers should take a backseat to highlife songs, which was in stark contrast to the normal protocol of the time.
EBO: ”Most of the recording I did later were major, or highlife, on the A side… on the flipside I wrote funkier highlife. I think that was a step forward. The research didn’t prove that, but I thought that many progressive listeners bought this album because it had this kind of stuff on it…”
It seems that by the time Conflict was recorded, he had all but given up on trying to hide the funk in the mist of highlife tunes. Judge for yourself.
01. You Need Love
02. Love And Death
03. What Is Life?
04. Christ Will Come