Ebo Taylor – living legend of African highlife music is still in rude health at 83 – at least as far as 2018’s Yen Ara let us know; a career highlight. And now we have Palaver, not strictly a new recording – but it’s the first time this 40-year-old album has seen the light of day, so it’s still very much a new release.
The Cape Coast, Ghana-native recorded this short set of songs on a break in a tour in the early 1980s.
There were five songs – and here they’re compiled by BBE Music, unearthed with two alternate versions/single edits to flesh it out to a tight 35-minutes, seven tracks in total.
The reason behind the burial of the album is unknown – it basically amounts to a lost album, forgotten. A lost classic too – Taylor’s harnessing of Caribbean and African rhythms on the opening, title track pulls you in straight away. He has a way about his guitar playing that is similar to S.E. Rogie’s – undulating waves that are both rhythmic and melodic, that pull at the sides of the song and lap as if tides of music.
Make You No Mind is a sinewy funk brew with light horns that hint at reggae, Abebrese is where his highlife sound moves slightly toward Afrobeat, and that’s more fully explored on the darker funk of Help Africa; this is totally out of Fela Kuti’s playbook – and perhaps the gem of the album.
Taylor’s in fine voice of course too.
Nyame Dadaw is another sunny, horn-filled fiesta-funk track. A great party of a song. Utterly joyous.
There’s so much to like here – a reminder of Taylor in his prime. Though recent recordings and performances suggest that prime has never left. No matter, it’s a thrill to have and hear this.
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