This Fall, we’re proud to present the first full career retrospective release for Ghanaian highlife master and “The Golden Voice Of Africa,” Pat Thomas, covering his late ‘60s big band highlife recordings through to the “burger highlife” movement of the early ‘80s. With Thomas currently wowing audiences on the road in support of last year’s incredible album with Kwishibu Area Band, Coming Home offers listeners a chance to get to know Thomas’ singular career.
One of Thomas’ earliest tracks, with the Ebo Taylor lead Broadway Dance Band, is streaming below. The partnership with Taylor would become one of the enduring forces in Ghanaian music during the ‘70s, creating a fresh, progressive new highlife sound. “Today, highlife has become the world’s music,” says Thomas, “and I am proud to still bring it to so many people.”
Pat Thomas – Coming Home is released 30th September on 2CD, 3LP and digital formats, and features exclusive photos and a full interview with Pat Thomas. Pre-orders are available now.
Berlin-based Henrik Schwarz is a master of incorporating the organic sounds of jazz, afrobeat and soul into his heady house sets. His latest master stroke is a deep take on a classic Ghanaian track from Ebo Taylor and Pat Thomas (the original of which appears on our Taylor retrospective Life Stories). Schwarz’s version draws out the horns and backing vocals, delaying the catharsis of Thomas’ distinctive croon for maximum dance floor delight.
“Ene Nyame” is available now on digital retail services. A vinyl 12″, featuring an unreleased dub mix, will be released 18th September.
“Best thing I’ve put on the stereo in some time” – Marco Werman
The self-titled album from Ghanaian legend Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band is something of a reunion, re-uniting Thomas with past collaborators that include Ebo Taylor and Tony Allen. Brimming with authentic West African highlife and afro funk, the album highlight “Me Ho Asem” is streaming below.
From the album’s liner notes:
An “Africo” crossover style typical of early 1970s Accra in the style of Osibisa and Alhaji K Frimpong. It’s one of the most funky tracks on the album and features some superb harmonic and melodic touches. Thomas’s lyrics are defiant: “This is my life, my turn. You can talk about all my problems and dance in my misery. But it’s not going to be like that forever. You can talk all you want but things will always get better for me.”
The track features a yearning trumpet solo from another Ghanaian legend, Osei Tutu. Osei was a member of Hedzolleh Sounds and also played alongside Ebo and Pat in the Sweet Beans.
Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band is released June 16th on Strut. Pre-orders are available on iTunes, Amazon & the Strut Store.
“I’m an afrobeat drummer but Pat Thomas is highlife. That is what he does so well.” -Tony Allen
Coming in June, we are proud to announce the brand new studio album by one of Ghana’s all-time great vocalists, “The Golden Voice Of Africa”, Pat Thomas, in conjunction with the Kwashibu Area Band led by multi-instumentalist Kwame Yeboah (Cat Stevens, Patrice) and saxophonist Ben Abarbanel-Wolff (Ebo Taylor, Poets of Rhythm).
A regular collaborator with Ebo Taylor, Thomas was mainstay of the ‘70s and ‘80s Ghanaian highlife, afrobeat and afro-pop scenes, hitting big with the Ghana Cocoa Board-sponsored Sweet Beans band. Thomas’ new album marks over 50 years making music and reunites him with old friends: Ebo Taylor provides horn arrangements, Tony Allen contributes drums to several tracks, Osei Tutu (Hedzolleh Sounds) plays a memorable trumpet solo and prolific 1970s bassist Ralph Karikari (The Noble Kings) also features. Younger generation stars appearing include bassist Emmanuel Ofori, percussionist “Sunday” Owusu and Pat Thomas’ daughter Nanaaya, an acclaimed vocalist in her own right.
Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band is released June 16th 2015 on CD, LP and digital formats featuring hand-drawn artwork by Lewis Heriz and full sleeve notes. The campaign will feature remixes released in conjunction with Absolut Vodka. Pre-order now on iTunes, and watch a video on the studio sessions below.
Here at Strut, we’ve been captivated with African music of many varieties ever since we first dipped our toes into the vast waters of music from the continent. Our initial forays into releasing curated collections of music from Africa focused on West African Afrobeat and Afro-Funk, and in the following years broadened our scope to touch on Ethio Jazz, North African Gnawa, South African township jive, and countless other varieties and hybrids.
To kick off 2015, we’ve compiled selections from our many African releases for a special digital release. Afro-Beats is over two hours of music, and we kept the price below that of an average album release. Dig in, and enjoy!
1. Ebo Taylor : Ayesama (taken from Appia Kwa Bridge)
2. Jabula : Jabula Happiness (taken from Spirit Of Malombo)
3. Mulatu Astatke : Green Africa (taken from Mulatu Steps Ahead)
4. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo : Koumi Dede (taken from Cotonou Club)
5. Orlando Julius with The Heliocentrics : Aseni (taken from Jaiyede Afro)
6. Jingo : Fever (taken from Afro-Rock Vol. 1)
7. Mulatu Astatke / The Heliocentrics : Phantom Of The Panther (taken from Inspiration Information)
8. Fanga & Maalem Abdallah Guinea : Kelen (taken from Fangnawa Experience)
9. The Souljazz Orchestra : One Life To Live (taken from Inner Fire)
10. Cornell Campbell Meets Soothsayers : We Want to Be Free (taken from Nothing Can Stop Us)
11. Jimi Tenor, Tony Allen : Against The Wall (taken from Inspiration Information)
12. Julian Bahula’s Jazz Afrika : Woza Cindi (taken from Spirit Of Malombo)
13. Orlando Julius with The Heliocentrics : Jaiyede Afro (taken from Jaiyede Afro)
14. The Souljazz Orchestra : As The Crow Flies (taken from Inner Fire)
15. Fanga & Maalem Abdallah Guinea : Kononi (taken from Fangnawa Experience)
16. Orlando Julius & His Modern Aces : Efoye So (taken from Super Afro Soul)
17. Ebo Taylor : Abonsam (taken from Appia Kwa Bridge)
18. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo : Holonon (taken from Cotonou Club)
19. Mercury Dance Band : Envy No Good (taken from Afro-Rock Vol. 1)
20. Malombo Jazz Makers : Hleziphi (taken from Spirit Of Malombo)
21. Mulatu Astatke / The Heliocentrics : Esketa Dance (taken from Inspiration Information)
22. Mulatu Astatke : I Faram Gami I Faram (taken from Mulatu Steps Ahead)
23. Jimi Tenor, Tony Allen : Cella’s Walk (taken from Inspiration Information)
24. Ebo Taylor : Nga Nga (taken from Love And Death)
Dating back to our very first release, Club Africa from 1999, packaging and presenting choice selections from the vast wealth of incredible music from the African content has been a labor of love here at Strut. We’ve had the good fortune to work with some of our heroes, and many stalwart legends of African music, spanning styles from Nigerian Afrobeat to South African Township Jive to Moroccan Gnawa and much in between.
This holiday season we’ve put together a special digital package featuring some of the cream of the crop from our African catalog, including music from legends like Mulatu Astatke, Ebo Taylor, Tony Allen and many more. The whole collection (26 tracks in total) is available on iTunes for $7.99, which makes it easy to dig a little deeper into some incredible sounds.
In addition, many of the original albums on which these songs appear are available at a discounted rate through iTunes for a limited time. Treat yourself to some amazing music!