Ebo Taylor has surely got to be one of the most consistently creative and influential musicians in Africa if not the world. Born in 1936 (and still going strong at 83 years young!) he has helped define the funky Highlife sound of Ghana like no other, whilst inspiring and producing the greats of West African music. Starting out in the front rank Highlife band the Stargazers in the late 1950s, he went on to lead the Black Star Highlife Band which while touring in London in the ‘Swinging Sixties’ began to introduce modern jazz into their sound (having great debates with fellow traveller Fela Kuti about the direction African music should go). After returning to his homeland, he produced records for Ghanaian masters C.K. Mann and Pat Thomas amongst many and continued to release incredible records of his own throughout the 1970s, honing the sound that we now recognise as his own.
In 1979, Taylor had to get out of Ghana sharpish as the unstable political situation made his safety perilous. Reciprocating the favour of sanctuary was a man who knew more than most about governmental oppression, his old friend, the King of Afrobeat Fela Kuti. While staying in Lagos, he met Chief Tabansi and they swiftly produced a session where Taylor displayed his thoughts and feelings about his country’s situation to tape. Alongside his touring band regulars, they created a magical monument to his beloved land, Ghana.
Shortly after the session, however, the always dangerous political environment in Nigeria meant that Taylor had to move again. this time back to Ghana. Nobody is sure how or why but the tapes went missing and remained missing until now. Nearly 40 years later, Peter Adarkwah is offered the tapes by Chief Tabansi’s son Joe as part of a multi-album deal of Tabansi archive recordings to be released by BBE worldwide. My word, it was worth the wait!
There are only six songs here but every one is a beauty. From the gentle title track ‘Palaver’ with its gorgeous flute solo, brass prompts and Taylor’s fluid guitar work supporting an angry (for Ebo Taylor anyway) retort to the Ghanaian military to the heavy Afrobeat of ‘Help Africa’, this ‘lost’ album is as good as any in his distinguished canon of work.
Wherever the lyrical motivation comes from (love, death or war), Ebo Taylor’s music has always been beautiful, filled to the brim with melody, swing and hope and ‘Palaver’ delivers all of this and more. A wonderful addition to a prodigious career that has spanned six decades. Long may you continue sir!