Various The Rough Guide To Highlife

Rough Guide have picked up the pace in the sheer number of compilations issued each year. They manage to find a groove between explanatory and exclusivity — whatever the subject, they hit on most of the major artists and throw in a couple of esoteric tracks. This is especially true of their African collections; at least one track ends up being a stone cold funky masterpiece. This collection of Highlife tips toward the exclusive, as more than half the tracks are currently unavailable. The proto-funk is everywhere in this survey of the classy Ghanaian/Nigerian dance hybrid of the ’60s and ’70s. You'll hear sublime melodic guitar work, drumming styles that are one step away from Afrobeat (check "Ka-Anyi Jikota") and even tinges of country and western influencing this sunny music. As for the groove tracks, it's hard to top Joe Mensah's nine-minute slow cooker "Bosoe.” Another big time highlight is the Upsetters-in-Africa mix of Sir Victor Uwaifo's "Guitar Boy.” Even ’80s-era George Darko's "Hilife Time” — which sticks out like a sore thumb with its flash dancin’ vibe — is an epic slab of cheese that is bound to be a guilty summertime pleasure. The pace, the tunes and the good feelings combine to make this a wonderful collection. (World Music Network)