eMusic Review 0
Ghanaian bandleader, vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Emmanuel Tettey Mensah was one of the biggest stars of the '50s and '60s, and a half-century later it's clear why: Everything on this superb 15-song distillation of his early '60s work oozes ease. By then, he'd had plenty of experience: Mensah had led bands since the late '30s and after World War II helped forged the highlife style from then-dominant swing bands by beefing up the percussion, giving the horns jazz-like voicings and freedom and adding calypso to an already broad repertoire.
How broad? Mensah sang in six languages, all superbly, in a slightly grainy low tenor that could sound upright ("Ghana-Guinea-Mali," which celebrates the three nations '"strong union") or excitable ("205," featuring one of the snazziest horn charts ever written — by Mensah, of course). He was, in short, a total smoothie, and he had rhythms to match: it takes so little time for a shaker-led number like "Onipa" to sink into your hips or brain that rehearing it after a long period can seem uncanny — is a musical sense-memory taking place, or do you really recall the song that well? The answer, of course, is the latter — you've been zinged… read more »