This retrospective of the legendary Cameroon saxophonist Manu Dibango includes 10 prime examples of his eclectic style, including his internationally successful hit, "Soul Makossa", the percolating percussion and layered brass of "Africadelic", and the '80s disco of "Sun Explosion".
This set compacts three of the Senegalese singer's 1980s albums onto a pair of discs, ditching three tracks in the process. This is not a drastic action, though, as Baaba Maal's Wango and Taara records have those same songs in common. So, the overlap has now disappeared, and disc one presents his Jambaajo original in its 10-song entirety. There is also room for a bonus cut, with the acoustic Tabakaly featuring Maal's longtime guitarist sideman (and mentor) Mansour Seck. All in all, this is another crammed collection of tunes from the budget-orientated Nascente label.
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.
This is the third in a series of posthumous albums of previously unreleased recordings by Randy California and Spirit, drawn from California's archives and assembled by Mick Skidmore. As Skidmore explains in his detailed liner notes, California put together an album called Blues From the Soul around 1995, and even copyrighted its contents; but later opted to use some of the material on the final album he released with Spirit, California Blues, prior to his accidental death by drowning in January 1997. Other tracks from the proposed album were culled for the first posthumous release, Cosmic Smile. Skidmore has included all 13 of the songs California had intended to use on his version of Blues From the Soul, though he has substituted alternate takes or live recordings of tracks already issued. Of course, the album also has been vastly expanded to include 35 selections for a running time of two-and-a-half hours. But the basic concept remains the same, and that is to present a collection of folk and blues recordings.