First published in Songlines Magazine issue 107, April/May 2015.
The Ghana Bigshots
Tu Na Me Nsa
Goethe Institut (40 mins)
The Ghana Bigshots were originally founded as the University of Ghana’s house band, and this release is supported by the Goethe Institut with the aim of preserving and continuing live music in Africa. Elsewhere, this could seem a fairly dry and academic venture, but in Ghana with the Bigshots, dry is not an option.
This 17-strong band includes musicians of many styles, but their music flows naturally. A comparison that comes to mind is that of a Ghanaian Orchestra Baobab: although most of their songs have their roots in Ghana’s folk traditions, the Bigshots’ music includes a healthy dose of Cuban son as well as their own country’s highlife. The album also has hints of Afrobeat, rumba lingala and township jive - the latter especially prevalent in the aptly-named highlight ‘Dance Music’. On top of this, the band’s two balafons add an edge to this overall sound, their harsh buzz cutting through the group’s otherwise clean tones.
While the English-language lyrics are not the most profound you’ll ever hear, and the music doesn’t break any major new ground, this is an enjoyable first album, with summery sounds and rhythms made for dancing – you can’t go wrong!