DL7-5327 Wcyaya
Produced by Tony Visconti
Released on 1971
US CHART POSITION #66
Find it at GEMM
DL7-5327 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

A n eclectic mix of musicians and music, Osibisa seems to be synonymous with “happy” music. The theme of happiness is propagated in the lyrics, the liner notes of Richard Williams, the small bit of ink earned in Rolling Stone’s guide to rock & roll, et cetera. And as much as this music is drawn from the homelands of its players (Ghana, Trinidad, Nigeria, Grenada, Antigua), there’s always a Western frame of reference within reach. Wcyaya never progresses too far from the organic jams of Santana or Traffic to feel entirely foreign. In the layered percussion and sere organ we hear elements of Santana, in the flute playing we hear Traffic. What I don’t hear is happiness. As enchanting a call as the opening “Beautiful Seven” is, there’s nothing intrinsically happy in their arrangement of Roland Kirk’s “Spirits Up Above” or soulful jams like “Rabiatu” and “Survival.” And the closing “Wcyaya,” arguably the prettiest song on the album, is actually a little sad. The question on many minds is whether Osibisa might qualify as progressive music, given the Roger Dean cover, and the answer is no. There are moments when the free-moving guitar passages from Wendell Richardson and prolific bass lines of Spartacus R do suggest the work of bands like Yes, but Osibisa is more about an organic vibe than contrived art. If the idea of an African Santana with a ‘70s soul-funk twist appeals to you, then Osibisa is right up your alley. Despite the very Western presence of producer Tony Visconti, Osibisa isn’t being asked to push the same rock envelopes as T. Rex and David Bowie. Apparently, the band’s approach was deemed radical enough for Western ears, so little tampering occurs. The same probably holds true of Brian Eno’s brief relationship with Edikanfo. Given that so little African music makes it to Western shores, Osibisa’s impact is not to be discounted. Wcyaya opened my ears a little wider. With an open mind, Wcyaya will weave its spell, large or small depending on your tuning. Note: the second character in “Wcyaya” is actually an inverted “C” (which many have approximated with the letter “O”).

DL7-5327 inner gatefold DL7-5327 back cover
DL7-5327 inner gatefold DL7-5327 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. BEAUTIFUL SEVEN    (Teddy Osei/Mac Tontoh)    6:42
  2. Y SHARP    (Osibisa)    6:20
  3. SPIRITS UP ABOV    (Roland Kirk)    6:50
  4. SURVIVAL    (Mac Tontoh/Teddy Osei)    6:07
  5. MOVE ON    (Wendell Richardson)    4:42
  6. RABIATU    (Loughty Amao)    5:07
  7. WCYAYA    (Sol Amarfio)    4:28

CREDITS

LOUGHTY LASISI AMAO -- tenor sax, baritone sax, congas, fontonfrom, flute
SOL AMARFIO -- drums, fontonfrom, bongos, cowbells
ROBERT BAILEY -- organ, piano and timbales
TEDDY OSEI -- tenor sax, flute, African drums and vocals
OSIBISA CHOIR -- friends and lovers
SPARTACUS R -- bass guitar, assorted percussion, prenprensua
WENDELL RICHARDSON -- lead guitar and vocals
MAC TONTOH -- trumpet, flugel and v=cowhorn, kabasa
John Punter -- engineer
Rbert Ellis and Shep Sherbell -- photographs
Roger Dean -- design and drawing
Richard Williams -- liner notes

return to OSIBISA discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK 1971 MCA LP MDKS8005 gatefold cover
US 1971 Decca LP DL7-5327 gatefold cover
WW   Aim Records CD 1046  
EUR 2002 Pop Stars CD PS-95624  
  September 20, 2004 Beat Goes On CDX   repackaged w. OSIBISA

 

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