Professional Uhuru Dance Band* ‎– Uhuru Special Hi-Life Numbers

Decca ‎– WAPS 31
Vinyl, LP, Compilation, Stereo

Tracklist Hide Credits

A1 Mensu Koraa
Written-By – Dadson*
A2 Eyaa Duom
Arranged By – Annobil*Written-By – Trad.*
A3 Betu Me Ho Awow
Arranged By – Plange*Written-By – Apenteng*
A4 Odo Kor Akyer
Arranged By – Plange*Written-By – Thomas*
A5 Me Nhuhu Ma Obi Nkeka
Arranged By – Plange*Written-By – Opoku-Duodu*
A6 Konkomba Medley
Arranged By – Plange*Written-By – Trad.*
B1 Bo Me Nantsew
Arranged By – Amissah*Written-By – Acquaah*
B2 Sunkwa
Written-By – Amoako*
B3 Kwantema
Arranged By – Plange*Written-By – Opoku-Duodu*
B4 Onyame Bekyere
Written-By – Annobil*
B5 Medzi Me Sigya
Arranged By – Plange*Written-By – Idan*
B6 Ali Wuo
Arranged By – Plange*Written-By – Trad.*

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Made in England

In April 1963, a group of musicians got together and formed a band. They called themselves the "Uhuru Band", in due course this band came to be recognised as a strong force in the dance halls and by the listening public. They boasted a large and strong brass line-up and with often intelligent arrangements did a lot to inject flair into the highlife. Their renderings of the highlife often provided the necessary flip to parties.

What is the highlife, really? As more and more West Africans became educated there appeared a change in the music they enjoyed. The musical form differed from the original native form because of various external influences. Strict time from the 12, 16 bar sequences, introduction of European instruments like the cornet and tuba, and the adventurous use of the Spanish guitar greatly helped in this change. The quality of compositions was affected, as returning slave brothers exploited the Spanish guitar. The latin American influence on the traditional chant form gave rise to the "Ashewa" rhythm; the strict European time sequence gave us the "Osibi". The simple melodic patterns of the hymns from the Prestbyterian and Methodist churches.soon became guide lines for the composers.

Around the '30's the gay flowing music of the West Africans found its way into Ballroom programmes as the highlife. The "High class" natives danced the Highlife and Charleston to bands like the Accra City Orchestra and the Cape Coast Sugar Babies while for the not so "High class" the Brass bands did admirably. The highlife is very much alive today. It has unique qualities of being perhaps the only commercial music today with an unexploited rhythm source: and what poly-rhythm there is!!

The twelve tracks on this album are all highlifes; it is an interesting album because it attempts to illustrate a few of the highlife's influences.

There are two examples of traditional folk style. "Konkomba Medley" suggests a moonlit night, a good harvest, the village orchestra and inhabitants gathered in the open-air to sing and dance. This number is Akan but the Konkomba rhythm is the same throughout the tribes. "Ali Wuo", a work song, in this case, from the fishermen, is performed as they sit in their canoes rowing in with their catch.

The religious flavour is represented with two numbers: "Bomenantsew" is performed in just about the original beat that Methodist church leader Rev. Gadiel Acquaah set down. The style is very simple, probably because it was written for the little children of the Sunday School, their illiterate mothers and grandmothers which made up the very important "Singing Bands", and delighted church goers with their very special "AKENKAN", "Onyame Bekyere" is a pop highlife with a religious flavour and but for its reference to God, it would fit perfectly into the chant method. Various examples of this are present as in: "Eyaa Duom" using extra voices as a chorus: and the single vocal of "Medzi Me Sigya".

The beauty of highlife music is still to be exploited by modern recording techniques; but already the very interesting rhythm forms are beginning to appear in the works of the modern pop composers. I wonder if they are aware of this!

F. D. H.