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Analog Africa unveils unreleased highlife from veteran producer Essilfie‑Bondzie

The Berlin-based label has announced the release of Essiebons Special 1973 – 1984, a compilation of music gathered by the legendary Ghanaian producer. 

For most of the 1970s, Dick Essilfie-Bondzie’s Dix and Essiebons labels were synonymous with the best in modern highlife, and the producer’s roster made for a who’s-who of highlife legends. C.K. Mann, Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Kofi Papa Yankson, Ernest Honny, Rob ‘Roy’ Raindorf and Ebo Taylor all released some of their greatest music under the Essiebons banner.

After securing a government job in Ghana, Essilfie-Bondzie’s passion for music, which was inspired by the sounds of Accra’s highlife scene, won out over his professional career. In 1967, he combined music and business by opening West Africa’s first record pressing plant. The venture, a partnership with the Philips label, was a huge success, attracting business from all over the continent. By the mid-1970s he was on a hot streak, injecting album after album of restless highlife into the bloodstream of the Ghanaian music scene.

Essiebons Special, released via Analog Africa, features a selection of obscure works from some of the label’s heaviest hitters. In the course of digitising his vast archive of master tapes, Essilfie-Bondzie found a number of Afrobeat and instrumental masterpieces from the label’s mid-70s golden age that, for one reason or another, had never been released. Those tracks are now showcased here for the first time.

Sadly Essilfie-Bondzie passed away before the compilation was finished. But his legacy lives on in the extraordinary music that he gave to the world. 

Essiebons Special 1973 – 1984 by Dick Essilfie-Bondzie, out on December 3rd via Analog Africa.