April 20, 2009

Black stars and comets

Continuing the singles posts, here are two from Ghana.

Now, as I've indicated before, I am no expert on highlife music. So I am hoping you can help me out with this first one. I have very little information about the artist of this wonderful single about the "Ghana Black Star Line". He is called B.B. Ossei, and I strongly suspect he was at one point in charge of the Noble Kings. I love these sung adverts, and listening to the sad commercials of today I sometimes wish we could go back to this format. The A-side of the record contains a highlife version and the B-side a lovely calypso version. It's hard to say which version I prefer, - they're both great.

Ambassador BSL 100

There is more information about the artist of the second single. When I write "more", I mean the same information can be found on a lot of sites... Apparently some members from the later crossover band Osibisa were involved in the early 1960s with this orchestra, The Comets. "Mac Tontoh's first band, known as "The Comets", was based in Kumasi and led by his elder brother Teddy Osei (who he later collaborated with in Osibisa). The Comets cut their teeth playing in Kumasi clubs such as The Jamboree, Kismet and Hotel de Kingsway. They became very popular in Ghana and Nigeria during the early 1960s for highlife and jazz, and Mac soon emerged as one of the leading and most progressive Ghanaian hornsmen, fusing the modern jazz styles of trumpeters such as Miles Davis and Clifford Brown with West African highlife." (The quote is from this site, but is repeated in various variations by others). Apparantly this orchestra was founded in 1959 by Teddy Osei, who in 1962 moved to the UK. I've read somewhere* about a link with the Stargazers Band, and listening to the music this doesn't surprise me. Both tracks are labeled as "Osibi (highlife)", which may explain the name of their later band(?).

Philips-West African-Records PF 325

*but I've forgotten where


gracenotes said...

Beautiful, just beautiful. Many thanks for these.

Anonymous said...

many many thanks for wonderful music all i know about bb osei is that he was a boxer & high life singer & that he got into religion & started singing gospel high life

Anonymous said...

We lose more good highlife singers that way...