Ebo Taylor - Appia Kwa Bridge
Ebo Taylor - Appia Kwa Bridge
(CD/2xLP/Digital) Strut Records STRUT089, 2012-04-17
After his first studio album in so many years, Love And Death, with the Afrobeat Academy (which includes some legendary Poets of Rhythm members!), and an absolute must-have of a double compilation, Life Stories (if you haven't heard this one yet, stop what you are doing right now and correct this asap!), our favorite Ghanean musician and producer, Ebo Taylor is back with a second original album, to be released april 17th on Strut Records. This time there's no trying to appeal to the afrobeat scene, this is a highlife affair, and a marvelous one with a heavy but delicate sound. And Paris DJs managed to help Ebo again, with Grant Phabao adding his magical production skills on two tracks of the album, Abonsam and Assom Dwee. Well, you can easily imagine we heavily recommended this record.
01. Ayesama 7:04
02. Abonsam 5:31
03. Nsu Na Kwan 4:47
04. Yaa Amponsah 4:26
05. Assom Dwee 5:55
06. Kruman Dey 4:39
07. Appia Kwa Bridge 5:30
08. Barrima 3:27
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Ebo Taylor On Recording Appia Kwa Bridge
Press Release : "I wanted to go back to a highlife feeling with this album," explains Ebo Taylor. "The songs are very personal and it is an important part of my music to keep alive many traditional Fante songs, war chants and children's rhymes."
'Appia Kwa Bridge', released this April, is a strident return from the Ghanaian highlife guitar legend. Featuring six new compositions, his sound is more dense and tightly locked than ever with Berlin-based musicians Afrobeat Academy, a rock solid unit since regular touring worldwide following his 'Love And Death' album in 2010, including a string of dates for WOMAD. Jochen Stroh works his analogue magic once more from his base at Berlin's Lovelite Studios.
The album covers a variety of themes dear to Taylor. The title track references a small bridge in Ebo's hometown of Saltpond on the Cape Coast: "it is a tiny bridge but a place known in the town where people meet, where lovers get together." The firing, rousing 'Ayesama', first recorded during the 'Love And Death' sessions, is a Fante war cry, a taunt - "what's your mother's name?"; 'Nsu Na
Kwan', based around a Japanese Koan riddle, asks "Which is older - the river or the old road" with the sub-text to respect your elders and the brilliant 'Abonsam' carries the message that Abonsam (The Devil) is responsible for evil in the world and that we should follow the Christian message.
Elsewhere, the album features a new version of highlife anthem, 'Yaa Amponsah', first recorded during the '20s by Jacob Sam's Sam's Trio before becoming a popular standard in Ghana, and a cover of an original track from Taylor's time with Apagya Show Band during the '70s, 'Serwa Brakatu', re-titled here as 'Kruman Dey'. The closer, the acoustic 'Barrima', is a poignant tribute to Taylor's first wife and one true love who sadly passed away during Summer 2011. "Ebo wrote the song following her passing and recorded this in one take during our last day in the studio," reflects bandleader Ben Abarbanel-Wolff. "He was very emotional."
The album features a number of special guests within the credits including incomparable drummer Tony Allen, original Africa 70 guitarist Oghene Kologbo and conga maestro Addo Nettey a.k.a. Pax Nicholas. Representing the younger players, keyboard genius Kwame Yeboah, son of Ghanaian legend A.K. Yeboah, makes full use of Lovelite's famed collection of Farfisa and Wurlitzer organs.
Ebo Taylor's 'Appia Kwa Bridge' is released on Strut as a 1CD, 2LP and digitally on 17th April 2012. He will be touring worldwide from May 2012.
Track notes and background :
"The war song of the Fante Akans, a song of victory."
A traditional Fante warrior song, chanting, taunting the enemy. "What's your mother's name?" Ebo makes regular trips to listen to traditional songs from Fante elders and fishermen on the Cape Coast. Classic Taylor songs like 'Atwer Abroba' are based on these traditions. "I want to preserve these songs, keep the old stories and melodies alive through my music."
'Ayesama' was originally recorded in Berlin during the sessions for the 'Love And Death' album in 2010 but was not released at the time. A new version of the song was recorded in October 2011 after it had become a popular staple within Ebo's live sets.
"The Devil must be blamed for all the evil in the world. Let us seek God's protection."
A new song written by Ebo, performed in 6 / 8 timing, 'Abonsam' sings of 'The Devil' and how he is responsible for all of the bad things that happen in the world. If you follow Christ, you will be saved.
NSU NA KWAN
"The river is older than the foot path which is man-made. The river was made by God and it is the oldest."
A track speaking in ancient proverbs, which talks of the river and the old road - which one is older, which came first? 'Nsu' means 'water', 'Kwan' is 'stone'. The message: respect God's creations, respect and honour your elders.
"One of the oldest highlife songs which praises the beauty of a woman."
A Ghanaian standard and one of the first highlife songs, originally recorded by Jacob Sam's Sam's Trio in 1928. The lyrics speak of an exceptionally beautiful woman and, outrageously, the singer asks her to divorce her husband to be with him.
Within his album, Ebo wants to showcase the full range of Ghanaian music and the two acoustic tracks ('Yaa Amponsah' and "Barrima') reference the roots of highlife and showcase the basic guitar styles. Taylor would play 'Yaa Amponsah' in a different form as a staple during his time with Broadway Dance Band and Apagya Show Band and it remains a special song for him.
"A nursery rhyme, believed to have been composed by a lunatic in Saltpond, my home town on the Cape coast."
Sung by Henry Taylor, Ebo's son. 'Kruman' originates from the 1930s / '40s and refers to the Krumen ethnic group, traditionally hailing from Liberia and Ivory Coast. With a reputation as sailors, they were seen by Ghanaians as strong people but many took on menial jobs in Ghana. The lyrics are slightly mocking: "there's a Kruman!" and the song was often used to teach children to count one to ten - "one kruman dey, two kruman dey…".
The track was recorded previously during Ebo's time with Apagya Show Band during the mid-'70s under the title 'Serwa Brakatu'. Ebo calls this one of his 'Deep Purple' tracks with the bass and guitar playing the same lines, a very Western technique.
APPIA KWA BRIDGE
"In Saltpond, this is a small bridge that connects the two parts of the town and also provides a vital link to the local hospital. It is a known rendez-vous for lovers at night. My first woman in Saltpond met me on this bridge for our maiden date."
"The song says, "meet me at the Appia Kwa Bridge, tonight at the same old place." It mentions people's names - there are three nightclubs situated very near the bridge, one of which is owned by a lady called Auntie Jo." The song mentions Auntie Jo watching the bridge, seeing who goes back and forth, and imagines people meeting there - "Flash me and we can meet at the bridge". "There is no light there at night and kids go there and make out," Ebo explains. "The name sounds big but it's really a tiny bridge - it amuses people in the town."
"I wrote this song to express my sorrow for the death of my first wife, Selina."
Ebo married his first wife whilst living in the UK but she would eventually leave him, struggling to cope with the hardships that had come from a life in music. Ebo had previously written the song 'Love And Death' about her. He wrote this song following her death in August 2011 and recorded it in Lovelite, Berlin, in October. Performed in one take, he thought about the song during the two week sessions and recorded it during the last day in the studio with tears in his eyes.
The chorus says, "Man don't cry - Ebo Kobena is a man and he is crying. (Kobena - Ebo's real name - means Tuesday). The style is a Fante form, Odonso, with no firm structure - it plays as a flowing improvisation, musically and lyrically and is often used for narrative songs which tell stories