Friday, April 27, 2018

Horse Head Vinyl...Dig and Spin: "Osibisa" - Osibisa (1971)

"Osibisa"  --  Osibisa (1971)
jazz fusion, afrobeat, prog-funk, psych dust
Debut album. Gatefold.
On Decca (rainbow Decca logo bar)
7 tracks

Horse Head Vinyl..."Dig and Spin" (#4)

Osibisa pulls from a spectrum of genres for their debut.
There are African beats. Jazz fusion. Rock. Light dustings of psych. Proggy bends. Flutes and brass. A bagful of percussion.  And the band manages to meld the good stuff together and leave the chaff on the floor.

This reads like way too much shenanigans, I know.  It's an idea that really shouldn't sound this good.  But it works.

"Osibisa" - Osibisa (back cover)

The album is mostly instrumental with vocals here and there.  And it has aged very well.
Osibisa's debut can still be found in bargain boxes and is well-worth taking a chance.

"Osibisa" - Osibisa  (inside gatefold)

Decca label

"The Dawn"...opening track. Begins with a brief introduction on what is about to go down...and then bassist Roy "Spartacus R" Bedeau makes his presence known and you quickly realize you're in good hands.  And there's a cool little riff that gets in your face a few times (but not near enough) that's just killer!  You'll know it when you hear it!  Oh, and there's some fuzz guitar that gets a chance to dance, too. Good stuff.
"Phallus C"...a jam filled with a cacophony of percussion and a nice bit of psyche guitar jelly thrown in.  Brass and sax dabble a bit...but they don't overdo it.  Just the right dosage.  Lots of contributors without sounding crowded.
"Ayiko Bia"... tasty guitar raises its head midway and the band rhythm-dances to the finish line.

A1. "Dawn" - 7:03
A2. "Music for Gong Gong" - 5:29
A3. "Ayiko Bia" - 7:53
B4. "Akwaaba" - 4:20
B5. "Oranges" - 4:40
B6. "Phallus C" - 7:14
B7. "Think About the People" - 4:21

"The Dawn" - Osibisa / Osibisa (1971)


  • Wendell Richardson – lead guitar, vocals
  • Robert Bailey – organ, piano, timbales, vocals
  • Teddy Osei – tenor sax, flute, African drums, vocals
  • Mac Tontoh – trumpet, flugelhorn, kabasa, vocals
  • Roy Bedeau "Spartacus R" -- bass, percussion
  • Loughty Amao – tenor/baritone sax, congas
  • Sol Amarfio – drums, vocals

By the way...the album cover was designed by Roger Dean as you may well have guessed.
I have a love/hate relationship with much of his work.
Look, I have many favorite Dean covers like everyone else, but his all-too-familiar style has mostly become a yawn.  However, that is not the case with this Osibisa album cover.  Flying mammoths are a wonderful, terrifying idea and I dig it.

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

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