Published Sep 11, 2015To inaugurate its BBE Africa imprint, label BBE has unveiled the first of two "lost" efforts from Ghanaian drummer Rim Kwaku Obeng with 1977's Rim Arrives. As is often the case with "legendary," "lost" albums, Rim Arrives comes with a captivating back-story. Recording in Los Angeles as a member of Ghana's Uhuru Dance Band, Rim caught the attention of one Quincy Jones and was offered to join Jones's band, only to be threatened with a lawsuit if he did. He also endured a six-month period of homelessness when a recording session with Traffic fell through, and only a chance meeting with Joan Armatrading helped him get back on his feet.
Yet this hardscrabble tale of missed opportunities would be only that without music to back it up, and Rim Arrives, which was recorded in San Francisco in 1977 during the height of disco, is a killer. Opener "Gas Line," which details the OPEC crisis of the era, is a high-energy dance-floor mover, its Ghanaian rhythm ideal for the disco crowd, while its lyrical allusions to joblessness and homelessness evoke a timeless theme of economic fear. The Fela-esque call and response vocals add an urgent sense of resiliency.
"Believe In Yourself" and "Funky Drummer" (not a James Brown cover) are sweaty funk workouts, the former a fist-pumping ode to self-determination, the latter a greasy, syncopated, deeply percussive ass-shaker. The Afro-Cuban intro to "Sunkwa" segues into a mélange of Afrobeat and Latin-tinged jazz fusion, and captures a delightful multi-cultural essence.
On the disco side, "Brushing Means Making Love" is a raunchier companion to Musique's "In The Bush," and the inclusion of Obeng's 1980 12-inch "International Funk," a synth and drum machine concoction that delivers an anti-drug, anti-child abuse message, makes one eager for Rim's 1982 follow-up to be released this October. Rim Arrives is a righteous helping of good groove guaranteed to satisfy the jones of nu-disco fanatics, funkateers and Afrobeat devotees alike. (BBE)