The third band I’d like to review has been around since the early 1970s and is active today. They are not exactly progressive rock, but they certainly have a creative aspect that many prog bands share. This band is Osibisa. The original line up consisted of four African and three Caribbean musicians. They have quite a unique sound, blending African pop and Caribbean reggae with traditional African music.
Founded by Teddy Osei, a native of Ghana, Osibisa consists of seven versatile musicians. The standard guitar, bass, drums and keyboards are present in the band’s sound, but so are flutes, saxophones, trumpets, cowbells and congas. This synthesis of traditional and modern rock instruments created quite a distinct sound and put Osibisa on the map as one of the first “world music” groups. Again, they are not a typical prog group: their lyrics are fun and simple, they do not perform in complex and diverse time signatures, and their songs are generally under seven minutes long. Nonetheless, their versatility and dynamic live performances place them somewhere between prog and Afro-pop. Furthermore, Roger Dean, the famed prog artist, designed Osibisa’s logo and their first two album covers.
Although this is not the standard prog that most of us listen to, Osibisa provides us with some fun music (with an experimental and improvisational touch). Look past the Afro-pop label and give them a shot. They are too good to ignore forever. (If you’d like to check them out, their music is accessible on Youtube and is available for purchase on iTunes).