Reggae Africa : Roots and Culture, 1972 - 1981 tries to capture a sense of that evolution, starting in 1972 as Mebussa's ultra rare 'Good Bye Friends' effortlessly captures triangular, transatlantic cultural interflows, with the short lived Nigerian group's bitter sweet chords echoing classic US soul, but laid over a gritty, skanking Jimmy Cliff - esque proto reggae rhythm.
Trying to work out the precise provenance of Black Reggae's 'Darling I'm So Proud of You' (1975) isn't easy, but involves Paris based / African focused label Fiesta, some proper OG co-branding exercise with Bols Brandy ( "Bols Brandy presents Black Reggae") - and deeply infectious, lilting Rocksteady.
By 1976, glorious Nigerian sister duo Lijadu Sisters are echoing the chunky roots of a Dennis Brown or U Roy on 'Bobby', and in 1977, bespoke Nigerian drummer Georges Happi is introing 'Hello Friends' with the soon to be universal signature reggae tom roll intro, before veering leftfield with snatches of spoken Afro - English vocal in between the hooky choruses.
Nigerian giant Chrissy Essien's 'I'll Be You Man' (1979) combines floaty Lovers vibes with catchy ska shuffle, and in the same year, Cameroonian afro-funk/disco heavyweight Pasteur Lappe' drifts seamlessly into skanking, Lovers infected reggae on 'Babbette D.O. ( Rastawoman )' (before a sprawling electric guitar solo reminds us how unselfconsiously eclectic so much African music of the era was.)
And finally bookending the compilation, in chronological terms, fellow Cameroonian Tala AM also swaps his funk and soul for the rootsy and infectious 'Hop Sy Trong' (1981), again highlighting the diverse and eclectic approach to this timeless Carribean musical genre taken by African musicians in the years before that Bob Marley year zero event in Zimbabwe.
TRACKS:1 The Mebusas– Good Bye Friends 3:29
2 George Happi – Hello Friends 7:46
3 Black Reggae– Darling I'm So Proud Of You 3:25
4 Christy Essien – I'll Be Your Man 4:09
5 Lijadu Sisters– Bobby 4:29
6 Tala André Marie– Hop Sy Strong 5:35
7 Essama Bikoula– I'll Cry 4:32
8 Carlos and Miki– All This Nonsense 5:37
9 Pasteur Lappé– Babette d'O (Rastawoman) 5:53
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