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BBE reissues Atakora Manu’s highlife

The British label celebrates Ghanaian highlife with the reissue of two rare 80s LPs, Afro Highlife and Omintiminim. Discover “Dada” exclusively on PAM.

Born in Toase, Ghana, Atakora’s musical talent was evident from an early age. He founded the legendary Princess Trio, which played from 1961 till 1963 with drummer Togas and multi-instrumentalist Elder Osei Bonsu, played as guitarist with the United Ghana Farmers’ Council Drama Troupe till 1966, and teamed up with Moses Kweku Oppong to form the legendary Kakaiku No. 2 Band, producing a string of national hit singles over a period of three or four years.

There followed a three year break from music until fate struck: Atakora found a job in 1973 at Ambassador Recording Studios in Kumasi, at that time the country’s largest independent label, and on seeing his musical talents behind the studio desk, it wasn’t long before the boss suggested to Manu that he get back to making music himself. The rootsy highlife selected here is from that same era. 

A striking feature on the LPs is the mix of vintage, rootsy “palmwine” blues-style guitar highlife with quirky keyboard electronics, a sound revolutionary in the conservative world of 70s and 80s highlife. This comes across beautifully in “Dada”, which PAM features as an exclusive, and “Cape Coast Cousin”, the latter toasting off guitar licks with bubbling wah wah organ. This double-album reissue is a long-overdue tip of the hat to one of highlife’s more underrated stars, respected by fellow musicians but still to be properly rediscovered by a new generation of auditors.

Omintiminim / Afro Highlife, out on November 5 via BBE Music.

Atakora Manu – Dada