This year sees an exciting new undertaking from the Strut camp. We’re launching ‘OriginalMasters,’ a series of essential original LP reissues exploring rare and under-rated African, Latin and Caribbean music classics, curated by leading collector and DJ, Duncan Brooker.
The first release in the OriginalMasters series arrives February 10th 2017, in the form of an experimental highlife / disco outing by Nigerian highlife guitarist Joe King Kologbo.
Forced to flee Nigeria when the Biafran War broke out in 1967, Kologbo spent the late 60s performing with various outfits in Ghana before returning to Lagos in 1971 and playing with Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and Fela’s wider circle of musicians. By the time he recorded the ‘Sugar Daddy’ LP for the tiny Electromat label in 1980, he was one of the older musicians on the circuit.
“Since he was based in the East during his early days, he was not as well known nationally as some of the other highlife players of the time,” says Oghene Kologbo, “so it’s nice that this album is coming out again. It brings back good memories. That Range Rover on the cover – that is Fela’s!”
Joe King Kologbo’s Sugar Daddy features it’s original artwork and new interviews with Oghene Kologbo and Sonny Akpan of The Funkees. It’s available now. An edited version of the 15-minute title track is streaming below.
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.
Ghanaian vocalist Pat Thomas and his all-star Kwashibu Area Band are setting out on an absolutely massive tour this summer. Performing material from last year’s self-titled album as well as highlights from throughout Thomas’ long career, this string of shows are an amazing opportunity to catch a living master of African highlife in the flesh. A highlight at last year’s Womex festival, the band will be taking their phenomenal live show across Europe from May.
The album Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band is out now on CD, 2LP (w. CD included) & digital formats.
The self titled debut album from legendary Ghanaian vocalist Pat Thomas and his newly formed Kwashibu Area band was one of the soundtracks to our summer. Firmly rooted in the tradition of classic West African musicianship, the album showcases Thomas’ incredible voice and reinvigorates our love of Highlife. This Autumn, Thomas and company are hitting the road together, performing tracks from the album as well as classics from throughout Pat Thomas’ career. Don’t miss an opportunity to see one of the foremost living practioners of Highlife music, live in the flesh.
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.
It’s not every day that you get to observe a master at work, but that’s exactly the feeling we get watching Pat Thomas rehearse with his all-star Kwashibu Area Band at their studio in Accra. The nimble playing of each musician adds its piece to an intricate puzzle, providing the perfect bed for Thomas’ expressive vocals.
With their self-titled debut album available now, Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band will be hitting the road this fall. Confirmed dates below.
02.10.15 London, UK: Richmix
07.10.15 Brussels, Belgium: AB Club
08.10.15 Paris, France: New Morning
09.10.05 Zurich, Switzerland: Stall 6
10.10.15 Lyon, France: Le Sucre
17.10.15 Utrecht, Holland: Rasa
18.10.15 Amsterdam, Holland: Paradiso
20.10.15 Berlin, Germany: Bi Nuu
22.10.15 – 24.10.15 Budapest, Hungary: Womex showcase
“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. Watch a video on the studio sessions below.
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!