Wednesday, March 14, 2018


If you;re into album cover art, you no doubt know who Roger Dean is. Even if you don't know the name, you've probably seen his work. Probably the most famous example is the album cover for Yes's Fragile. Even though I've always hated Yes as a band, and I'm not all that into trippy fantasy album covers, I have to admit that his style is very fluid, and he's good at what he does, though it's not my bag. After seeing the Yes LP cover and taking notice, it was easy to spot other work he did. Take for instance, the two album covers he did for Osibisa. They must have been in the very first thrift store I ever went to, and there's no doubt they were in the last one I was in. All over the place. I had no inclination to buy one of the albums, because I didn't like Yes and I figured it would likely be music that sounded like them. But then, after years of seeing their records in thrift stores and used record stores, I began to wonder why there were so many Osibisa LPs, yet no one I knew had heard them, and I'd never seen anything written about them. Still, even after downloads and YouTube appeared, I wasn't curious enough about their sound to even do a random search, still thinking that they were something like Yes.

About a year ago I was in a record store and saw one of their LPs and something clicked, I realized why their records were dumped everywhere. They were probably bought by people that actually liked Yes and thought that because the cover art was very similar, they'd probably like Osibisa too. And they probably got rid of them en masse because they didn't sound like Yes. So, after years of seeing Osibisa records, I took the 99 cent bin challenge. Turns out they're a band from Ghana, and nothing like Yes. Maybe like an African version Fela meets Tower of Power or Malo or some shit like that. Different anyway. For 99 cents I got an entirely listenable LP, I solved a mystery, and a lesson in marketing.

Speaking of marketing, their third album would have been a instant snap. The guy who did that cover was Mati Klarwein, who also did Santana's Abraxas and Mile Davis's Bitches Brew. If I'd have seen that freaky thing (detail above), I wouldn't have hesitated. Shit looks twisted.

Osibisa - Survival/Move On mp3 at Internet Archive
Osibisa - Ghana Expo
at Internet Archive Kicks in at 2:56

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