Various Bokoor Beats

John Collins is one of West Africa’s musical treasures. With a decades-long involvement in Ghana’s musical scene as an educator and performer, he may be best known for his frequent interactions with Fela Kuti. Bokoor Beats collects tracks recorded at his Bokoor House facility, a farm-cum-recording studio. The Bokoor Band in which he played are best described as Afro-rock, like Osibisa, as opposed to Afrobeat. Collins plays a wailing harp on the Bokoor Band tracks, and while the drum kits suggest snare sounds of the ’60s, these tracks weren’t recorded until the mid- to late ’70s. They’re not top-drawer funk but songs like "Yeah Yeah Ku Yeah” have a hell of a sloppy groove that’s hard to resist. Of greater interest are the other bands compiled. These were bands that were working more regularity, and though their music was not as fusion-oriented as Collins’, they were tighter ensembles. The Mangwana Band’s minor key highlife is an affecting groove with a thin-sounding organ propelling it along during its eight minutes. Splitting the difference between Collins’s funk and highlife is 6/8 chicken scratch guitar and percussion workout "Egbe Enyo” by Brekete and the Big Beats. Every African funk DJ needs this record. (Otrabanda)