Easy access to excellent music for those who know where to look is another reason why the Internet is awesome.
Like ‘Foreign Film’, ‘World Music’ is not a category, mainly because it doesn’t actually categorize anything. All that odd label says is: ‘This is music not from here. It’s from out there. In the world’. In that way, it’s tied to offensive notions of what is ‘normal’ and what is ‘other’. Unless it’s played on instruments from the future made out of materials sourced on Jupiter, all music is ‘World Music’.
Highlife originated in Ghana- which is in the World – in the early 1900s. The guitarist Charles Kofi Mann formed Carousel 7 in the late 1960s. James Brown gave a concert in Lagos in 1970. “Funky Highlife” came out in 1975 on the Essibons label, but, according to Dick Essilfe Bondzie, who ran the label, the demand for the record couldn’t be met because of the limited availability of vinyl due to Ghana’s economic downturn. Overcoming the tragedy of its limited initial pressings, the album was re-released in 2012 by the excellent label Mr Bongo.
On Funky Highlife, Mann alchemically mixed traditional Ghanian highlife arrangements with the newer sounds of American soul and funk to produce aural gold. When it comes to music, it’s a small world after all, which is something to be joyous about because – at its best – it sounds like this.