Lost links & Re-ups

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Slinging tuneage like some fried or otherwise soused short-order cook

16 May 2013


Agbadza is one of the oldest musical types performed by the Ewe of  southeastern Ghana (& Togo). It has a long history & a wide variety of derivatives. It was traditionally a war dance, but after peace came in the 1920s, it is now used in social & recreational situations to celebrate peace. As a war dance, it was used in military exercises as a directional force: telling the warriors to move ahead, to the right, truly ‘talking drums’. Unlike much music in Africa (& other places around the planet as well) that is quite male dominated, the Agbadza performance is open to everyone in the community, regardless of class, age, sex, or religion.

There are 5 sections to the traditional Agbadza piece: Banyinyi, a short introduction that is performed as a prayer to the gods & ancestors; Vutsotso, the main dance; Adzo, a less vigorous dance; Hatsiatsia, a song cycle, during which topical, historical, philosophical or reflective songs are performed with accompanying drums; & Vutsotso, a reprise & another round of the main dance section.

The drums used are the atsimevu, sogo, kidi, kroboto, & kaganu. Also used are the gankogui bell & several Axatse gourd rattles.

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Side 1 –
Agbadza Ha Le Amea Deo
Miwua Agbo Mayi
Vimanyenu Be Ago Ge Yemo
Tenge Tso Ameta
Afika Loviwo Yi
Abodzo Gbe Miato Adzo Gbe

Side 2 –
Mano Woyome
Hala Ve Edzi
Miwo Nyuie
Ne Nuglom
Agboa Negba
Se Meke
(these sides have no track separation so I have merely posted two long tracks.)


Atakora Manu was born at Toase in Ashanti in 1940. After leaving school in 1956 he took a job as machine operator stationed at Brofoyedru in Adansi. The boss of his crew was a good guitarist & Atakora’s interest in pursuing music was aroused.

After much practice, he became proficient enough on the guitar to want to play music full-time. He quit his job & returned to his hometown of Toase where a B.K. Amankwah bought him a set of musical instruments to be the resident band in his club. Manu formed a band known as the Princess Trio. They were so popular in Toase that they ended up touring the whole country. Between 1963 & 1966, he was a guitarist of the United Ghana Farmers Council Drama Troupe. After the 1966 coup, the Troupe was disbanded & Atakora returned home once more. In 1967, he teamed up with Kakaiku of Kakaiku No. 1 Band fame & formed Kakaiku No.2 Band with him as the lead guitarist.

In 1970, he resigned from Kakaiku No.2 Band. For several years he worked as sound engineer for other projects. In 1973 he was employed as studio engineer at Ambassador Records. With the help of A.K. Badu, managing director of Ambassador Records, he was encouraged to use the studio for his own music with the hope of recording in the future. As a result of this good gesture, he regrouped his Princess Trio.

Atakora Manu released a large catalog of albums through the 1970s & 80s, both with the Princess Trio & the Sound Engineers. His music is characterized by a sound that features interlocking guitar lines, playful keyboards, & distinctive singing in a smooth groove unique within the context of Ghanaian highlife.

On Disko Hi-Life, some of the performers are: Atakora Manu – vocals, lead vocals on “Palm Wine Seller”, guitar, & bass; Elder Osei Bonsu – lead vocals on “Self Contention”, guitar, & percussion; C.K. Mensah – tenor vocals, S.K. Amoako Agyeman – lead vocals on “Obiaa Ne Mre Beba”; & Agyei Kyeremanteng – alto vocals.

Atakora Manu - Disko Hi-Life, Ambassador AM 029, 1981.
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Side A –
Palm Wine Seller
Self Contention

Side B –
Obiaa Ne Mre Beba

Enjoy the highlife,

1 comment:

  1. Agbadza
    Atakora Manu