Sweet Talks The Kusum Beat

The 12-member strong Sweet Talks were one of Ghana's biggest bands of the '70s. That popularity allowed them the opportunity to tour worldwide and record in Los Angeles. Western influences of funk, jazz and salsa mix seamlessly with highlife and Afrobeat on their second album, 1974's The Kusum Beat. Opener "Akampanye" sets everything up just right with an effervescent, simmering traditional highlife groove that soon boils over into a full-out jam thanks to an outburst of horns and syncopated percussion. The rest of this too short EP is just as charming and dance floor-friendly. Particularly noteworthy is the barnstorming "Eyi Su Ngaangaa," which marries an entrancing Fela-like repetitiveness with the power of an elastic funk groove, and the quirky "Oburumankoma," with its military-style horn motif and sweet Farfisa organ touches. As lead singer AC Crentsil testifies on one of the few English lyrics here: "It's a nice beat, man." (Soundway)