Among the glut of West African retrospectives issued in recent years, one of the most distinctive and charismatic artists to gain prominence was the enigmatic Ghanaian ROB.
Reissued last year, his 1977 debut LP proved a raw but piquant mix of energetic heavy funk grooves and barked vocals that occasionally erred on the abrasive. This follow-up, recorded later that same year, followed a calmer, though no less idiosyncratic path.
The shouted vocals have been toned down to laconic utterances, often punctuated by pantomime sex cries (think Percy Plant on Nigerian Guinness). Musically, the tempo has slowed considerably, allowing for a far richer brand of slow burning funk and a healthy dose of introspection. Bargain finds ROB contemplating mortality over broody Hammond, before punchy trumpets emphasise a positive message. He Shall Live In You pairs religiosity with a prime groove workout, but the undoubted highlight is the gloriously unhinged Make title track: a song that couples a super-funky groove with ROB’s oversexed vocals, while an odd but effective alarm bell percussion adds urgency.
Eccentric and off-key, but rarely less than compulsive, it’s worth braving the oddities to immerse yourself in the world of one of Afro-funk’s true originals.