The Blue Album
(Secret Stash)
June 14, 2011
8.5

K. Frimpong & His Cubano Fiestas, Self-Titled
January 25, 2011
(Secret Stash)
8.5

Out of the Afrobeat/Highlife capital of the USA – Minneapolis, MN – come two reissues of mid-1970s Ghanian music. Of course, I’m joking in regards to Minneapolis, but in all seriousness, Secret Stash has become a reissue label to look for. Not content to focus on any one genre, they’ve also tackled Peruvian, Persian, and even porno groove titles to name a few. Secret Stash’s output is primarily deluxe vinyl (along with deluxe packaging) and digital only with the one exception being the first Peña which saw the label’s only CD release.

K Frimpong And His Cubano Fiestas’ self-titled album and The Blue Album, aptly titled due to the shading on the album cover, were back-to-back titles issued in 1976 (The Blue Album) and 1977 (self-titled). Frimpong and his band mostly cover the Highlife genre over the span of these two albums, but in a breakaway moment, the opening track of The Blue Album, they tackle a mean Afrobeat jam called “Kyenkyen Bi Adi M’Awu” that Fela Kuti, from nearby Nigeria, must have been proud of. Fans of the genre may have previously heard this cut on Strut’s Afro Rock Vol 1. compilation(a reissue in itself).

K. Frimpong & His Cubano Fiestas – “Kyenkyen Bi Adi Mawu” by noraritchie

The Vis A Vis band backing Frimpong is in exemplary form. Every solo is precise and funky as hell. The drummer lays down a mean syncopated rhythm making way for the trumpet and flute solos which are high points on the album. You can hear American soul influences throughout.

You can also hear American jazz influence on “Yaw Barimah” when the sax and trumpet each take a short turn in front of the band at the three-minute mark. If you were to strip away the rhythm section that signifies this as an African-born musical treat and merely listen to each as a solo on its own merits, it recalls any pick of 1960s jazz of top notch labels and their combos.

Secret Stash label co-founder Eric Foss explains some of this American music fascination in the video below.

Both albums are fascinating works of an often overlooked artist. Fela Kuti has gotten his shine throughout the years (and rightfully so). In the last few years, Ebo Taylor has started to generate more looks from the music industry. So far, though, 2011 has been K. Frimpong and His Cubano Fiestas’ time in the spotlight. While the former are very worthy of anyone interested in expanding their musical horizons to check out, so too is K. Frimpong.

For more info, head over to Secret Stash here.

Words by Eric Luecking

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