Wednesday, October 01, 2008

v/a "Highlife Time: Nigerian & Ghanaian Sound from the 60s and Early 70s"

I was reading about Highlife music in a book about African history. It mentioned Highlife as one of the strange African pop cultural things that popped into being in the last years of the colonial period (see also Congolese rhumba and the strange tendency of street gangs to dress like cowboys in some other country). The book mentioned Highlife as being a specifically Ghanaian form, but didn't really say too much about it beyond that, but it nevertheless piqued my curiosity. And so in London, when I saw this compilation in Rough Trade, I snapped it up. For all that, though, it is not quite the Highlife I was reading about – this is from a later period and features Nigerian musicians more than ones from Ghana.

But anyway, what is it like? I'm not actually sure if I have entirely got to grips with it. On the first few listens I though maybe it wasn't all that. I mean, yeah, OK, it was grand, but it sounded a bit generic African with its polyrhythms and Johnny Marr guitars. On further listens I have found it more engaging, but time will tell whether it manages to earn a place in my affections or get buried in the pile of no longer new CDs.

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