Pat Thomas is one of the legendary voices of Ghanaian highlife. He has ridden the waves of Ghana’s popular music, from the sunny, major-key highlife of the early ’70s to the minor-key funky highlife and Afro-funk of the mid ’70s as a vocalist with Ebo Taylor, and in his own band, the Sweet Beans. Then, in the ’80s, he was a star of Burger highlife, the highlife/disco/funk fusion created in the studios of Germany. Now he’s back with a new record with a classic, throwback sound: Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band, which recently came out on Strut Records.
We’re pleased to offer the exclusive premiere of a live video of Pat Thomas and Kwashibu Area Band performing an extended version of “Gyae Su” at a rehearsal session in Accra. An uptempo, minor funky highlife song, in the style popularized by Ebo Taylor, “Gyae Su” is music to dance away your sorrows. The world-class band is co-led by one of the mainstays of Accra’s live music industry, Kwame Yeboah, and saxophonist Ben Abarbanel-Wolff of Ebo Taylor’s band and the instrumental German funk band Poets of Rhythm. Kwame is a multi-instrumentalist who has played with everyone from Cat Stevens to the U.K.-based Afro-rock band Osibisa and currently runs Mixstation, one of the most successful studios in Accra; he is also the musical director and keyboard player for current highlife star Kojo Antwi. Kwame plays guitar in this live video, his eyes closed, smiling and shaking his head as he locks with the drummer and bassist in a deep ’70s highlife pocket. Pat Thomas dances in the middle of the room, looking relaxed in a cap and baggy shirt, while the horns deliver crisp lines and percussionist Sunday Owusu fills between the beats. Enjoy!
Pat’s long-time collaborator Ebo Taylor contributed horn arrangements to the album, and Afrobeat master drummer Tony Allen even plays on a few tracks. Check out the album below, and read Banning Eyre’s interview with Pat Thomas about the new album here.