Osibisa

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Osibisa are not referred to often these days when historians look back at the evolution of world music. But they were quite prolific progenitors of the form in the 1970s, as this mid-'70s album marked their seventh LP in about five years. For listeners at the time who were unfamiliar with African popular music (and, to a large degree, for listeners of every era), Santana served as an inevitable comparison. With their fusion of African beats and funk-R&B-rock, Welcome Home could often sound like early-'70s Santana without the emphasis on psychedelic guitar, and without nearly as much blues and Latin influence as Santana had. (The Santana-like cover graphics couldn't have helped keep the comparisons at bay, either.) Yet there was quite a bit more in the way of distinctly African rhythms, often making the album sound like something of a link between Santana and the Afrobeat that would become popular in the 1980s. On occasion, the record ventured into slightly poppier territory with a languid cheer that verged on the sappy, though admittedly that approach did give them a U.K. hit with "Sunshine Day." The album nonetheless had plenty of earthier extended grooves that tilted toward more kinetically rhythmic territory, while "Kolomashe-Trad" took things closer to the source with its call-response chant-like vocals.

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