It’s one of those balmy, breezy days that occasionally crop up during a Southern California winter…the old French doors are open and the sun is shining in. A tease to make you yearn for summer, which I do quite often – it doesn’t take much.
To counter this yearning, I thought I’d offer up some balmy, breezy, and very early highlife from Ghana. Boateng and his guitar-less group with his piano (possibly one of the first highlife groups to ever include a piano in their band?), sax, and fiddle, recorded this and several other songs in Accra, ca. October 1937 for HMV. It’s got a swoony quality that I like. These are not common.
Under its sister label Zonophone, HMV had recorded over 500 records of West African music in the late-1920s. However, financial collapse within the recording industry during the Depression caused a 6 year gap in West African recording by HMV. They returned with gusto in 1937 however, with a whole variety of number series’ (including this one, the JZ series) for export to West Africa.
Geek talk: despite that my copy of this record is in “New” condition, there’s the issue of the 1930s HMV pressing, which can often be hideous. This is a prime example. I did my best to clean it up, which was not easy with my humble utilities, but I think it ultimately holds up.
Boateng – Nofeno Ye Nagbe, Pt. 1
If you’re interested in more 1930s music from West Africa, definitely check out the fine work that Craig Taylor is doing over at Savannahphone.
Issue Number: J.Z. 220
Matrix Number: OAB.413
Thanks to Bill Dean-Myatt for details!