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Afrobeat - Released April 12, 2011 | Strut

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
At the beginning of the 20th century, musicians from the Gold Coast (the former name of Ghana) drew from jazz to dominate African urban music with an explosive cocktail called “highlife”. But their supremacy slowly faded away with the invention of afrobeat in the 1970s by Nigerian Fela Kuti, who started his career making highlife sounds. From then on, this passionately funky and Afrocentric rhythm has slowly invaded the entire Western Africa. Ghanaian singer and guitarist Ebo Taylor, a friend of the “Black President”, has dedicated his career to the Nigerian-born style. Discovered belatedly in Europe with his 2009 album Love and Death, Ebo Taylor has since then enjoyed a worldwide recognition, which naturally led to an update of the works from his glorious albeit continental past. In 2011, English label Strut Records reset the Ebo Taylor clock with this flamboyant compilation featuring the gems the Ghanaian artist disseminated on his path between 1973 and 1980. Relentless rhythmics, gleaming brass, vivacious and colourful guitar solos, and engaging chants were part of his music from the very beginning. These tracks prove that with various formations (Uhuru-Yenzu, Asaase Ase, The Apagya Showband and Super Sounds Namba, with his fellow countrymen and singers Pat Thomas and C. K. Mann) or in solo, Ebo Taylor has always been able to spark some magic. © Benjamin MiNiMuM / Qobuz
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World - Released August 30, 2019 | BBE Music

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Recorded in 1980 by Ghanaian Ebo Taylor and his stage band, Palaver was an album that somehow never actually left the shelves of the Nigerian label Tabansi Records for whom it was recorded. The dust-coated tapes were rediscovered almost forty years later by the English label BBE Records, who reached an agreement to buy back part of Tabansi’s collection. Meanwhile, guitarist, singer and producer Ebo Taylor, considered to be the man who reconciled his country’s highlife music with the afrobeat from neighbouring country Nigeria, has become a legend in the world of African music. The discovery of this lost album is a historical moment as we can see the characteristics that helped shape his style, although it is clear that he is more compelling in his role as an entertainer than as a political activist. His song Help Africa, whose theme, beat and brass arrangements have resulted in an inevitable comparison with Fela Kuti, do not work in his favour. As for the rest, Palaver boasts a whole host of guitar runs, jumping rhythms, joyous brass and smooth melodies. It is hard to resist this album’s slightly outdated charm which does its utmost to put a smile on our faces and awaken the dancer in all of us. © Benjamin MiNiMuM/Qobuz
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World - Released October 25, 2010 | Strut

While Ebo Taylor's name is not familiar to most as one of the pioneers of Afro-beat, it should be. Taylor, the Ghanian composer, arranger, guitarist, and vocalist has been making music since the 1950s, and studied with Fela Kuti at the Eric Guilder School of Music in London from 1962 until 1965. Rather than go the solo path, he opted instead for Accra's studio scene, where he appeared on dozens of singles and albums . He cut a self-titled solo album in 1977 on the local label Essiebons. Tracks from it, another album entitled Conflict, and various singles have appeared in recent years on various European compilations. The Strut imprint, not content to let Taylor's name languish in obscurity, put its money where its mouth was, and paired him with the Afrobeat Academy of Berlin, which includes guitarist J. Whitefield of the Whitefield Brothers and various guests from Europe and Africa. Love and Death, the result of that collaboration, reveals how much vitality the 74-year-old musician possesses still. These eight cuts are balanced between re-recordings of earlier tunes and new ones. Taylor's guitar and weathered vocals in both English and his native Akan dialect are right up front. They're juxtaposed with constant skittering percussion, hypnotic electric pianos and organs, punchy horns, and meandering yet in-the-pocket basslines. Taylor's lyrics derive from many sources: nursery rhymes, political and social themes, romance, etc. The title track is an uptempo but brokenhearted, love song which proclaims that "love and death are all the same." The cut is is compelling evidence of just how different Taylor's music is from Kuti's, though it remains undeniably Afro-beat. As funky as the JB's, it is more melodic and deeper into an African soul groove. "Nga Nga" is a new composition that is darker, moodier, and hypnotically funky. This is a club stepper with its popping bassline, swirling wah-wah guitars, and stuttering horns that play call-and-response with Taylor's vocals. There are two instrumentals included: "Kwame," dedicated to Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, and "Victory," about a conflict between two neighboring villages. Taylor's snaky guitar skills are amply evident on both, and the backing of the Afrobeat Academy and its guests push them into the stratosphere. Anyone remotely interested in Afro-beat -- traditional or modern -- needs to hear Love and Death; it's a sonically pristine and deeply earthy musical experience from an artist who is only beginning to receive his due and has plenty left to say. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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World - Released April 6, 2018 | Mr Bongo

At more than 80 years of age, Ghana's Ebo Taylor, pioneer of highlife and afrobeat, still performs like a dream. Since his public, international resurrection in the late 2000s, the now-legendary Ghanaian, at the head of his Saltpond City Band, an orchestra of dazzling brass and irresistible grooves, has released this compilation, Yen Ara (Us), to prove that musical vivacity has nothing to do with age. Englishman Justin Adams (Robert Plant, Tinariwen, JuJu…), more used to groups where guitars dominate, has done a dynamic production job, where every instrument – brass, organ, percussion, bass guitar and MC's voice – is allowed to shine, while fitting neatly into the overall puzzle. Aromas of jazz, funk, afrobeat and disco flow together and push us inexorably towards good cheer and the dancefloor. © Benjamin MiNiMuM/Qobuz
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World - Released April 16, 2012 | Strut

Unlike pop songs based on the Europe-derived rules of tonal music, Afro-beat doesn't typically move in a deliberate way from one place to another and then home again in a reasonably prescribed pattern of tension and release. Instead, it generally stays in a single place and dances there until it gets tired -- which can take anywhere from eight to 30 minutes. Nigerian legend Fela Kuti was the universally acknowledged Mozart of this approach: he would build a fearsome groove out of highly repetitive and mostly static harmonic materials, and then use it as an extended showcase for instrumental solos, wild dancing, and eye-poppingly bold political rants. Guitarist and songwriter Ebo Taylor, hailing from nearby Ghana, comes from the highlife tradition, which shares with Afro-beat a tendency toward funky, densely arranged, and harmonically static songs, but is also generally a bit lighter in terms of both groove and message. Recording here with the Berlin-based Afrobeat Academy band, Taylor gets deeper into his musical roots than he has on previous releases, creating a powerful set of songs that sound as if they could have been recorded in 1974: on tracks like "Abonsam," the highlife standard "Yaa Amponsah," and the effortlessly groovy title track, Taylor revives the old-school sounds with an energy and joy that belie his age. And on the album-closing "Barrima," he pays sweet tribute to his late wife with a stripped-down vocal-and-guitar composition that will break your heart. It all adds up to an album of unusual emotional depth and resonance. © Rick Anderson /TiVo
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Africa - Released November 24, 2017 | Mr Bongo

This re-release of a vinyl record from the '60s bears witness to the origins of the Ghanaian multi-instrumentalist Ebo Taylor, as a singer. It was he who would go on to build the bridge between his country's Highlife and the Afrobeat of his Nigerian friend Fela Kuti; and here he has distilled some joyously funky music, with a light touch of jazz, which is typical of what would become contemporary African music. The Pelikans, who take their name from an Accra nightclub, are a group of twelve veteran musicians, directed by the legendary Highlife musician Bessa Simmons. Here, Ebo Taylor sings in English or in Fanti, sometimes playing keyboards, as on the now-classic Come Along. This piece already appears on a compilation on the origins of Afrobeat, and was notably sampled by the New York rapper Sadat X. These seven pieces, lovingly restored, will re-immerse the listener into a key period in the history of African music. © BM/Qobuz
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Africa - Released November 1, 2019 | Mr Bongo

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Africa - Released October 15, 2015 | Essiebons

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Africa - Released April 1, 2016 | Mr Bongo

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House - Released June 8, 2018 | Mr Bongo

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Africa - Released April 1, 2016 | Mr Bongo

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Africa - Released February 18, 2013 | Mr Bongo

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World - Released September 7, 2020 | Comet Records

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Africa - Released March 23, 2018 | Mr Bongo

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House - Released April 20, 2018 | Mr Bongo

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World - Released February 21, 2020 | BBE Music