K Frimpong And His Cubano Fiestas Blue

K Frimpong And His Cubano Fiestas Blue
If you were to own one highlife album, this might make a good case. Of course, if you've travelled the world of music all the way to vintage West Africa, why stop at one? This is a blazing set of funky Afro-beats, not to be confused with Afrobeat, the best known descendant of highlife, but this retains a lighter feel without the locked-in, kit drum-driven, James Brown-informed music that would travel far beyond Africa. The drum kit is wonderful here; it's so funky yet seemingly so random. Several bars can go by before hearing a tiny little fill exactly in the pocket ― perfect accents without steady rhythms. The classic on this album is leadoff track "Kyenkyen Bi Adi M'Awu," which just doesn't quit with this approach. There are other influences here as well: the rolling snare in "Gyae Mensu" is reminiscent of then emerging soukous from Congo. There are also the more characteristic elements of old school highlife in the sweet guitar picking, which is reminiscent of "palm wine" guitar music of the '50s. This is the kind of album that inspires compilations. (Secret Stash)