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The story of C.K Mann & His Carousel 7 ‘Funky Highlife’

We have received a fantastic reaction to the re-issue of the C.K. Mann & His Carousel 7's classic album ‘Funky Highlife’. We are of course really pleased, as this release is the first in our new series of Classic African Recordings (more info to come).

The back-story behind C.K Mann and the ‘Funky Highlife’ album is interesting in itself and something we felt was well worth sharing here.

C.K. Mann made his name as a virtuous guitar player in Ghana when he played with Moses Kweku Oppong in the Kakaikus Guitar Band in the early 60s. He then became the leader of the band Ocean’s Strings until 1966. In 1968, he enjoyed a hit with the single ‘Edina Benya’.

Funky Highlife’ is a fusion of highlife and soul. The best-known, killer track ‘Asafo beesuon’ is a multi-layered funk medley and is over 13 minutes long.

This album came out of the Essiebons label run by Dick Essilfe Bondzie. According to him this album could have been a massive hit in Ghana but the vinyl factories ran out of vinyl because of Ghana’s economic downturn so the demand for the record could not be met.

In the late 90s hip hop producers started hearing about Afrobeat through the sounds of Fela Kuti... Then Steinski, one of the most influential producers in hip hop, sampled Asafo Beesoun and suddenly all the hip hop collectors wanted it. The original LP is a hard-to-find and sought-after collectors item.

C.K. Mann was known for blending African authentic music with European influences. He was inspired by Latin American music and created a style all of his own. He became the ‘king of highlife‘ in Ghana in 1971, when he released the record ‘Nimpa Rebre’, with vocals from Pat Thomas and Kofi Yankwon.

Click here to listen to C.K. Mann - ‘Funky Highlife’.