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V/A - Booniay!! a Compilation of West African Funk

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Artist: V/A

Album: Booniay!! a Compilation of West African Funk

Label: Afrodisiac

Review date: Apr. 9, 2002

In the late 60s and early 70s, James Brownís funky new bag hit West Africa like an atom bomb. The funk groove was a perfect fit with the traditional rhythms and High-life guitar and horn sounds that were dominant in the region. The same thing had happened 40 years earlier when Cuban music came home to Africa, would happen again in a few years when Reggae spread across the continent. This process of musical dissemination and return is expertly documented in John Storm Robertís classic book Black Music of Two Worlds.

What we have here on BOONIAY!! is a DJ-selected collection of dance-floor movers, mostly from the 70s and mostly from Ghana; a tasty variety of highlife-disco-funk hybrids that sprout like tropical fungus with phase-shifted and wa-wa guitars, farty vintage synths, glorious drum and percussion beds, massive Mother Drum bass lines, sweet, rough, and soulful vocals. Verve, imagination, and exuberance are evident on every track.

This collection lacks the informative liner notes of the recent NIGERIA 70s set on Strut, but it does provide an equally valuable window on the rich ferment of African music and culture that was happening at the time. As a bonus for analog fans, thereís plenty of vinyl crackle and pop on these re-masters, and the transfer to digital is just right: the bass sound is fat and incisive, the percussion vivid and alive; warm and fuzzy rules here.

In a way, much of this music comes closer in mood and spirit than any other Iíve heard to the re-Africanized synthesis that Miles Davis was making with his great mid-70s band: sonic continents separating, re-colliding; bringing the groove back home.

By Kevin Macneil Brown

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