. issue XIII : iv .

by barathron

. artist: ebo taylor .
. album : life stories: highlife & afrobeat classics 1973-1980 .
. year : 2011 .
. label : strut .
. grade : a plus .


Ebo Taylor is one of the greatest musicians of independence-era West Africa. He studied jazz in London in the 1960’s with Fela Kuti and thereafter spent his entire career in Ghana as a guitarist, bandleader, composer, arranger and producer. He’s still working and put out a fine new album last year on Strut. He came to the attention of a new generation through his inclusion on Soundway Records’ GhanaSoundz compilations (Lift Stories disc 1 tracks “Heaven” and “Atwer Abroba” are the songs from those compilations). Taylor is frequently called an Afrobeat musician, but his style is lighter and jazzier than Fela’s Africa 70, and the sound of classic Ghanaian highlife echoes in his music as well. Believe it or not, none of Taylor’s classic recordings have been released in Europe or Africa except on multi-artist compilations, so this 2-disc retrospective is both long overdue and a real eye-opener for African music fans. Strut has done a great service to Taylor and to listeners — this album is a must-have for lovers of West African music and was one of the best reissues of 2011.

by Bill Lupoletti