Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Highlife Allstars

  • Sankofa [Network, 2001] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Sankofa [Network, 2001]
At first I thought the four credited acts were a de facto aggregation dubbed the Highlife Allstars, and metaphorically they are. The music does change with the billing--vocals are undemonstratively chanted, conversationally emoted, sweetly sung, and instrumentation swells to include organ, horns. Yet whether the named artist is a known oldtimer or one of the small pool of young men who can play the dated style of Ghana's presoukous preeminence, the mood and sound are consistent, rooted in the friendly rhythmic intricacies of palm wine guitar. Juju is too, but the song forms are much clearer here, the commitment to loveliness more straightforward. Until better examples emerge from somebody's vinyl horde, this collection will be a world music template. And N.B.: If the rest of the title seems vaguely familiar, people like the word, which in Akan seems to mean something like, "You must look at the past before you can proceed into the future." Wonder what will happen then. A