World Music Network showcases the colorful sound of highlife music with The Rough Guide to Highlife [Second Edition], following in the fashion of a similar volume released in 2003. Featuring jazzy horns and arpeggiated guitars, highlife conjures the joyous musical spirit of Africa from the townships to the nightclubs. The genre originated in Ghana and Sierra Leone in the early 20th century -- springing from the fusion of American jazz rhythms and African roots music and taking its name from the origins of performing at elite clubs -- and reached its peak in the '60s and '70s but inspired guitar, gospel, and disco-styled subgenres. The compilation finds Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti at an earlier phase in his career, playing with the band Koola Lobitos on the swinging opener "Highlife Time," while Koo Nimo's palm wine highlife -- which adds calypso and soca influences to the musical melange -- takes a gentler turn with "Se Wo Nom Me (Tetse Fly You Suck My Blood)" and Genesis Gospel Singers' "Momma Mo Akoma Ntutu" brings the album to a lilting close. Four tracks from the earlier edition of the compilation reappear here, including guitarist and writer Sir Victor Uwaifo's rousingly rhythmic joromi tune "Do Amen Do" and trumpeter Victor Olaiya's highlife-to Afrobeat-connection with "Pariboto Riboto." The Rough Guide to Highlife [Second Edition] also offers a bonus disc that reissues a classic recording by the Seprewa Kasa ensemble, who explore the origins of highlife through the use of the seprewa, a rare, kora-like instrument.
AllMusic Review by Chrysta Cherrie
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2