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Osibisa - New Dawn review

Veteran Afro-rock pioneers greet their sparkling next phase.

Osbisa
(Image: © Marquee Records)

More than 50 years since Osibisa first enlivened UK clubs with their “criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness”, the pioneering Afro-rockers return with
a beefy new line-up and their first new music since 2009’s Osee Yee

Any doubts expressed about the current band by guitarist Dell Richardson in Prog 116 are dispelled as founding father Teddy Osei, original keyboardist Robert Bailey and longtime singer-bassist Gregg Kofi Brown (who wrote most of the 14 tracks) are joined by seven seasoned newcomers, including Osibisa’s first female singers. The vocals provide the freshest new flavours in the band’s trademark soul/funk/jazz/pop melting pot. Among the sublimely soulful performances on here are Angie Amra Anderson dazzling on Yen Kita Yen Sa’s gorgeous quiet storm and MOBO-nominated Faye Jones bringing Billie Holiday lustre to Dark Matter, while Brown rails against corporate corruption (Paper Dey Burn) and police harassment (No Fit 4 Street).

The original Osibisa blasted fanfares, drum workouts and chants, but 2021’s sleeker, more polished model is no less compelling. A new dawn indeed.

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Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!