Orchestre Poly-Rythmo - The 1st Album (1973) (4 stars)

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo - The 1st Album (1973)

Sensationally funky West African music from a 16–piece with brooding organ melodies

(Analog Africa)

In 1970s West Africa, various creative ensembles emerged in the former French trading post of Cotonou, Benin; notably the vibrant Orchestre Poly-Rythmo. Their distinctive earthy grooves mined a musical axis involving neighbouring Nigeria and Ghana.

This is sensationally funky music from a 16–piece with brooding organ melodies delivered ‘wowow’ style over layers of gritty percussion, guitars and brass while founder member/ singer Vincent Ahehehinnou raises the pulse with chanted vocals.

The four extended tracks recorded in nearby Lagos in 1973 exhibit gorgeous sensuality rather than brazen sexiness: they prove conclusively that not all innovation in the 70s was to be found in Anglo-US sounds.

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