Meet Me There 2019 - Ebo Taylor in 5 records
With the 2019 edition of Meet Me There Weekender (MMT) fast approaching, we thought we’d take the chance to run through some of our favourite tracks from Ghanaian highlife pioneer, and MMT headliner, Ebo Taylor. As a composer, guitarist and bandleader, Ebo has been at the forefront of Ghanaian music for over six decades - helping to form an ever-evolving Afrobeat sound that merges traditional highlife, with jazz and funk elements. Recent years have seen him finally begin to receive the acclaim he deserves on the global stage.
Ebo will play the Sunday evening slot at the idyllic MMT, alongside his current troupe of fellow musicians, the Saltpond City Band (who were with him for the recording of his latest album, 2018’s Yen Ara). Read on as we run through 5 key tracks from the man himself..
Ene Nyame ‘A’ Mensuro (feat. Pat Thomas)
Taylor joins forces with compatriot and fellow highlife legend Pat Thomas on this funky, Disco-esque cut from 1980. Layered guitar riffs provide the bedrock for the uplifting horns and soulful, chanting vocals of Thomas. Catch this on Strut’s 2011 compilation of Ebo’s seminal recordings, Life Stories - Highlife and Afrobeat Classics 1973-80.
Love and Death (Original) (feat. Uhuru-Yenzu)
You can’t help but get drawn in by that intro - a scintillating horn line shuffles up and down upon the track’s foundations, gently panning. As the opening passages subside, the song takes a sombre turn - the female vocalist sings “Love and death, go hand in hand, the way to the grave is just the same”. Ebo recorded a new version in 2010, which became the title track for his full-length LP (and 1st ever international release), on Strut Records.
Come Along (feat. The Pelikans)
One of Ebo’s most famous songs, featuring an hypnotic wah-wah guitar groove and powerful brass arrangement. Under the radar for many years, it was brought to wider attention through its inclusion on the incredible 2010 compilation - Afro-beat Airways - West African Shock Waves (Analog Africa).
One of the highlights from the brilliant Yen Ara album, released only last year by the good folks at Mr Bongo records. Mid-tempo but with more of a hard-hitting, afrobeat style than his usual smooth, highlife sound.
Released in 1977 on Ebo’s self-titled album, Heaven is widely considered a classic of Ghanaian afrobeat. Its reach transcends fans of the genre alone, with Usher of all people sampling elements of the horn section for his 2010 track, She Don’t Know. Whilst an original pressing of Heaven can fetch up to £600 on Discogs, Mr Bongo (those guys again, big up yourselves) reissued it in 2012 so everyone can enjoy.
Words: Arthur Dickinson