Review

Various Artists

Essiebons Special 1973-1984

Analog Africa • 2021

The producer Dick Essilfie-Bondzie, who died last summer at the age of 90, did great things for Ghanaian and West African music in general. Although his family made sure he went to university in England and took up a » respectable« profession in the civil service, it did not stop him from opening the first record pressing plant in West Africa at the end of the Sixties, in partnership with Philips. In the Seventies, his labels Essiebons and Dix took such a hold of him – and were so successful – that he gave up his former career and devoted himself entirely to music. The result was that Essiebons became one of the most famous addresses for highlife and Afrobeat. »Essiebons Special 1973-1984« gathers rarities like the disarmingly catchy »Shakabula« by Santrofi-Ansa and lesser-known numbers by artists like CK Mann or the organist Ernest Honny, who presents his Farfisa (?) sounds on no less than four delightfully charming and funky numbers. These recordings, like two other titles, remained unreleased at the time and have now found their way onto a commercial recording for the first time. Any fears that this might be less important material should be dispelled by listening to them.