Mensahthe multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and undisputed King of Highlife, who sadly died in was the artist who inspired RetroAfric's mission to re-present classic tracks by Africa's masters of popular music. Since then technology has moved on apace and the label has re-mastered the original material which is now cleaner and more splendid than ever. The album has been brought up to CD length with the addition of three previously unavailable tracks. Mensah, the undisputed King of Highlife, was one the founding fathers of African popular music.
His career stretched from the early s to the late s, and his music reached beyond Ghana to all corners of Africa and Europe. Emmanuel Tettey Mensah was a natural musician, whose talent was spotted at school by Yaatao Ono - E.T. Mensah And His Tempos Band* - King Of The High Lifes (Vinyl Joe Lamptey. When Lamptey formed the Accra Orchestra in the early s Album). He soon progressed to saxophone and also learned to play organ and trumpet.
European dance music was the prevailing fashion but, during World War II, musicians picked up new developments from Black American and West Indian comrades who were stationed in the Gold Coast. There were also ex-professional European musicians with the Allied forces, and E. In he qualified and was stationed in the Ashanti region. Warren had travelled to Europe and America, playing with Afro-Cuban musicians and he returned with the latest records, including calypsos. This refreshing influence became part of post-war highlife, which was now directed to a more solidly African audience.
A criss-cross African cultural sound, so to speak. No one can really lay claim to its creation. It had always been there, entrenched in West African culture. What I did was give highlife world acceptance. In Mensah broke away to re-from the Tempos under his own leadership, offering a Spirit Of The Forest - Various - Earthrise - The Rainforest Album version of Spore Spawn - Ochistuitara, with more modern instrumentation and a wide variety of local rhythms.
The Tempos' relaxed style was immediately popular. The Tempos played at the club of Yaatao Ono - E.T. Mensah And His Tempos Band* - King Of The High Lifes (Vinyl Benson who quickly adapted his own style to create a Nigerian version of highlife. When Mensah recorded his first 78rpm discs for Decca West Africa in he was quickly proclaimed the 'King of Highlife'. After various personnel changes just before these recordings the band members on the first sessions included Les Brown [guitar] Tommy Gripman [trombone] Spike Anyankor [alto sax], Tom Thumb Ado [drums] Dan Acquaye [bongos] Pappoe [maraccas] Moilai [claves] and Duke Hesse [congas].
The regular singer was Dan Acquaye, but there were many instrumental numbers, featuring Mensah's sweet horn Vulcano Mushroom - Warnfried Altmann Trio - Wangelin Songs. The band split up again shortly after and for the next recording sessions innewcomers included Glen Kofie [trombone] and two 村井邦彦* / 東宝スタジオオーケストラ* - 悪魔の手毬唄 Baby Face Paul [tenor sax] and Zeal Onyia [trumpet].
Dan, Spike and Tom Thumb remained loyal. The Tempos made frequent and lucrative tours of Nigeria Album) business was so good that Mensah could run another band in Ghana while he was away. Eventually, however, Nigerian musicians complained that E. InE.
By now he had his own club, the Paramount, where Armstrong played, but soon after Independence economic problems forced him to Pinback - From Nothing To Nowhere it down.
Officially acknowledged by the Nkrumah government, E. Instead the band set out in on a tour of Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, which included playing for several heads of state. His records were well known, with songs such as Nkebo Baaya reaching as far as Congo. Even so, b y the s, E. In he took a new Tempos line-up to England for a three month tour, culminating in a dance at the London Hilton Hotel.
The repertoire now included elements of Congo rumba, soul and pop as well as calypso and the new reggae beat which was dominating London. During the s, the brassy, dance band highlife was overtaken by other forms and it faded from the scene. In the late s, however, E. In a show was given in Mensah's honour in Lagos, where he joined old colleagues including Victor Uwaifo and Victor Olaiya on stage.
This current CD is Album) completely re-mastered and extended version of the first RetroAfric release. In he was formally honoured with the title Okunini Very famous man for his contribution to the country's culture. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate. More recently his music has been revived in cinema and television advertising, historical documentaries including the epic People's Century series, and CD-Rom encyclopedias.
Mensah's highlife was the sound of African independence days. He will always have a place in the hearts of West Africans.
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