Osibisa - Welcome Home [Talking Elephant Records - 2019]Originally released in 1975 Welcome Home was the 7th album from London based Afrobeat project Osibisa- it saw the band focuses in more pop/ populous sound that blended African beats/ percussion, funk, R & B and 70’s dance flavors. It also saw the band charting in the UK with one of the albums tracks "Sunshine Day". On Talking Elephant Records here we have a recent CD reissue of the album- taking in digipak presentation of the original bright ‘n’ buoyant jungle-based sleeve artwork.
Osibisa formed in London in 1969- the initial line-up brought together Ghanaian natives Teddy Osei (saxophone), Sol Amarfio (drums), Mamon Shareef, Farhan Freere (flute) and Mac Tontoh( trumpet) with the following joining the ranks fairly soon after- Spartacus R (bass), Trinidadian Robert Bailey (keyboard), Antiguan Wendell Richardson (lead guitar and lead vocalist), Mike Odumosu/ Fred Coker (bass guitar) and Lasisi Amao (percussionist and tenor saxophone). The bands first self album titled appeared in 1971- and it saw the project offering up their then fairly unique blend of African and Western music- which very much starting off the whole world music trend- and many of their 1970’s album charting high - this first album making 55 on the US chart, and 11 on the UK chart.Roger Batty
1975’s Welcome Home took in nine tracks, with each running between three and five-minute mark- taking in a fairly time typical album runtime of just over forty minutes- this reissue features just the original tracks/ running order. The album kicks off with it’s single "Sunshine Day"- which is bright ‘n’ grooving mixture of lightly clip-clopping African percussion, group sang male vocals, swinging horn work, boogie fed piano lines, and strutting-to-sailing guitar work that hints at both funk and Latin focused rock- if you’re of a certain age you’ll instantly recognize this upbeat & jiving number. As we move through the album we come to more afro beat-meets- funk-rock "Densu"- with its layered & swooning African male vocals. Onto the popular B side track "Right Now"- which is a perfect crossbreed of light afrobeat, sing-a-long western pop, and pop disco rhythms. There are some neat deep cuts too like the Hammond organ groove- afro percussion meets- Santana like soloing guitar of “Seaside Meditation”, or the more formal afro beat-meets- often bizarre jungle stock effects of “Kolomashie” which later on moves into rich African tribal/ meets football like chanting. Sure there’s nothing here as vital or edgy Fela Kuti 70’s output- but as a more mainstream in-road to both afrobeat and world music of the decade, this is both important and relevant record.
Though there is certainly skilful and reward musical prowess on present through-out this album. Welcome Home is very much a bright, buoyant, and vibrate afrobeat/ fusion album that focuses on the more populous/ approachable side of the genre. So don’t expect anything too daring or risky in its presentation.