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All for You

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Album Review

The first of two volumes of vintage E.T. Mensah material, All for You finds the master of Ghana's highlife music leading his Tempos Dance Band on 17 excellent cuts. The set include calypsos, sambas, and highlife numbers, culled from Mensah's most successful period during the '50s and '60s. Mensah doubles on trumpet and saxophone, leading his fine band of brass, saxophone, guitar, and percussion players through hits like "Donkey Calypso" and "Sunday Mirror" (this last number's reference to the London newspaper figures in with other imprints of British colonialism, namely the joys of drinking tea espoused on "Tea Samba"). While these and a few other cuts are sung in English, Mensah favors a variety of Ghanaian languages when at the microphone, including Twi, Fante, and Ga. Other song highlights include the topical "Inflation Calypso," breezy highlife cuts like "Odofo," the Caribbean traditional "John B. Calypso," and a handful of instrumentals; excellent saxophone and guitar solos abound, especially on the instrumentals. One of just a few Mensah compilations, All for You is essential listening for fans of West-African popular music.


Born: 1919 in Accra, Ghana

Genre: Africa

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

With the passing of trumpet player, saxophonist, and vocalist Emmanuel Tettey "E.T." Mensah on July 19, 1996, at the age of 78, Ghana lost one of its most influential musicians. Respectfully known as "the father of modern highlife," Mensah played a vital role in the evolution of Ghana's music. In the early '90s, Mensah recalled his revamping of highlife, explaining, "We urgently wanted an indigenous rhythm to replace the fading foreign music of waltz, rhumba, etc. We evolved a music type relying...
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All for You, E.T. Mensah
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