Kiki Gyan – 24 Hours in a Disco (Soundways/ Fuse)

kiki

Osibisa were an Afro pop band of Ghanaian descent that formed in the UK and became huge in the 70’s. They were one of the first African bands to cross over into the mainstream, touring the world and enjoying considerable success.  Though not a founding member, Ghanaian Kiki Gyan joined the band in the 70’s and quickly became renowned for his keyboard lines, often referred to as Africa’s answer to Stevie Wonder due to his prodigious talent.

In 1979 he left Osibisa to pursue more lucrative session work and to begin a solo career, recording the title track of this collection 24 Hours in a Disco with a 16 piece orchestra, an upbeat slab of disco funk with his distinctive vocals which fall somewhere between the Bee Gees and Curtis Mayfield. It charted in both the UK and US.

He subsequently married Fela Kuti’s daughter, released two albums, and got himself addicted to the party, to the sex and drugs, most notably narcotics, which eventually curtailed his recording career. If the cover of this disc doesn’t scream ‘player’ I don’t know what does. This collection pulls together some of his best work with his two bands, The KG Band and The Twins.  The music is very much influenced by the disco craze at the time as Gyan was shooting to become the next Boney M, and from the evidence collected here you’d have to think he had a real chance. There’s also links to his Ghanaian past, particularly in terms of the hand percussion used in many of the tunes, often during the breakdowns. Then of course there’s Gyan’s incredible keys, which really elevate the tunes from the more derivative commercial disco at the time. The solo on the super slick Pretty Pretty Girls is a case in point, it’s hypnotic stuff, deceptively simple, and it barely registers until it’s over. But then that was his genius. Everything fit perfectly. Perfectly smooth.

 

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