Eboni Band and their self-titled album fused Motown sounds and West African flavour, soon to be reissued by We Are Busy Bodies – it features the must-have p-funk-afro anthem ‘Sing A Happy Song…’

Here’s another choice reissue forthcoming from the Canadian label, We Are Busy Bodies – with this meeting of Motown and West African musicians – on Eboni Band’s self-titled 1980 debut album. It’s the first reissue of the album, featuring musicians such as Fred Wesley, first released more than 40 years ago. This label has hit the ground running hard with some choice picks of South African jazz and Ghanian grails recently. Eboni Band is out June 18th. Worth noting, as one or two bits from the Busy Bodies catalogue have quickly sold out on vinyl.

The album is a tour-de-force of cross continental soul and funk, an outernational classic and featuring session musicians from Motown and Ivory Coast’s Eboni Records – alongside the legendary Wesley, one of the all-time funkateers who kicked it with The J.Bs and Parliament/Funkadelic. It was produced by Motown great, Art Stewart (producer of Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up and Rick James’ breakthrough album, Come Get It!) and arranged by Greg Middleton.

Greg Middleton (right)

The horns and hum of Detroit and Motown – with vocals, harmonies and traditions of West Africa (djembe, kora) – makes this record such a significant one, and was a product of a casual meeting between Motown Studios alumni Gerald Theus (who set up Eboni Records in Ivory Coast in the 1970s) and Abdoulaye Soumare, who was based in the US, but met with Gerald on a whim and a stopover in Abidjan. Theus not only convinced Soumare to stick around Abidjan, but to immediately begin work on a series of four concurrent recordings by the label’s roster of local talent. It wasn’t long before a group of musicians flew from the Ivory Coast to Los Angeles.

Motown musicians – alongside James Brown’s bandleader, Wesley – included Nolan Smith (Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder), Ernie Fields, Jr. (Rick James, Marvin Gaye) and Quentin Dennard (Aretha Franklin, BB King). Their musicianship, when combined with the production and arrangments of Stewart and Middleton, is simply irresistible.

Art Stewart, Marvin Gaye, Leon Ware

The musicians comprising the four musical groups signed to the Ivory Coast-based Eboni Records were Mamadou Doumbia, Gun Morgan, Amadou Doukoure, Abdoulaye Soumare, Lamine Konte and Fode Drame. The album was later mastered at Motown’s Hitsville Studios.

This time, the album has been remastered by Noah Mintz of Lacquer Channel Mastering for vinyl and digital, released via We Are Busy Bodies, on 18th June.

Check the We Are Busy Bodies Bandcamp.

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