Review | Songlines


Rating: ★★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details


Togo All Stars


Excelsior Recordings


It’s easy to overlook Togo, wedged between Ghana, Benin and Nigeria. Musically that places its capital, Lomé, right in the middle of highlife, Afrobeat and vodoun-funk and all of these influences can be heard on the All Stars’ third album. Opener, ‘Zon Kede’, kicks off with a storm of ancestral percussion before horns pick up the riff, followed by a Manu Dibango-like sax solo and veteran singer Aguey Cudjoe declaiming Fela-style lyrics in the Mina language of southern Togo that roughly translate as ‘To go fast, we go alone, to go far, we go together.’ Clattering Congo-style guitars launch ‘We Dey Grow’, loose-limbed funk with more pulsating horns, ‘Elayi’ mixes highlife with a deep funk groove, ‘Vodu So’ is all simmering Afrobeat and ‘Kokoko’ is a slinky showcase for the band’s female vocalists, all masterminded by ‘creative director’ Ekue Leopold Messan (aka the ‘Energy Federator’). As fluid as they are fierce, this band is as tight and funky as any operating out of West Africa right now.

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