Flower power is at its peak in Haight Ashbury, the Rolling Stones are answering Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band with their own psychedlic masterpiece and Folonho ‘Ginger’ Johnson releases this long overlooked gem of funky African music in London
Two years later at the famous Rolling Stones’ concert in Hyde Park, Ginger and his massed drum ensemble would make a memorable appearance on ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ but first would be African Party.
Ginger first came to the UK in the 50s and by the sixties was a cult fixture on the mod scene. His sound was one of complex African polyrhythms funked up guitar, flute and above all a jazz horn section. Remind you of anyone? Did Fela and Ginger meet, maybe even jam together? Who knows but one thing is for sure, this album represents an African response to Afro-American interest in African music from groups like Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, recorded in London at a time when everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Fela Kuti, Bob Marley to Gilberto Gil would be passing through (not to mention the homegrown talents).
The title suggests that it would have been marketed as a bit of a novelty record and Ginger’s association with bands like Edmundo Ross’ makes one suspect that this Nigerian drummer would do what it takes to get by but any thought of compromise in the music itself is swiftly countered by the ten tracks of ebullient, funky and percussion-heavy proto Afro beat.
Respect to Cyclone Releasing Corp. for unearthing this gem. Commiserations to the person who paid over $150 last year for an original copy.
Ginger Johnson and his African Messengers — African Party (CCD001) is out now.