Jo Bisso can be seen to have ‘crossed over’ into the disco underground more than many other African artists of the era (achieving repeated success for his consistent endeavour and stylised sound) – Your Love being a famous dancefloor staple of different eras – but this new compilation by Africa Seven (African Disco Experimentals (1974 to 1978) shows just how deeply his output was immersed in the culture of American clubs and its music.
Africa Seven always do such a good job of documenting the period and always contextualise the music perfectly – “Cameroonian Jo Bisso’s earliest musical influences didn’t come primarily from his homeland, but more from the neighbouring Congo, where the kind of early 60’s Congolese Rumba played by the likes of Franco / TP Ok Jazz, and Tabu Ley Rochereau was establishing itself as a musical force in the region. Alongside this exuberant, swinging, jazz influenced sound, the growing impact of the all conquering US soul titans became inescapable, and sprinkled with a bit of Johnny Halliday & Co’s smooth chanson over the top, we get a snapshot of where Jo Bisso and friends post school musical experimentation was headed in the late 60’s.
“As that decade drew to a close, the single minded Bisso headed off to France to begin his quest for the future, and by 1972 could afford the journey to the US that he’d long dreamed of. Enrollment at the Berkeley School of Music in Boston soon led to a new band coming together, and by 1974 the all conquering, multi faceted approach that marks Bisso’s musical career, meant he’d written, produced and sung on his debut single for the mighty Decca Records. Flying To The Land Of Soul drew heavily from James Brown’s propulsive dancefloor funk.
“At the same time, Bisso and friends had started to immerse themselves in the fast emerging disco sound pulsing outwards from Downtown NYC into the Boston nightclubs, and by the time his debut album Dance To It was released in 1976, it was the driving, 4/4 floor power of disco that was to define Bisso’s sound on that, and the following two albums.
“Bisso’s immersion in disco was based around its energy and musicality (rather than any associated hedonism), African Disco Experimentals (1974 to 1978) paints a picture of an artist dedicated to the underground club side of the scene, rather than focused exclusively on the fast emerging pop potential of the sound at the time.”
For more, go to Africa Seven.com