JESS SAH BI & PETER ONE
Our garden Needs Its Flowers
(reissue, 1985) AWESOME TAPES FROM AFRICA
Cross-cultural curio from Côte d’Ivoire
The work of Die “Jess” Sah Bi and Peter One (Pierre-Evrard Tra), then a political cartoonist and a high-school teacher trainee respectively, this record arose from an introduction by the former’s nephew to the latter, who he’d heard playing guitar and singing in their Abidjan university dorm in 1979. At the time, Sah Bi was also an established performer on local radio and TV, so capitalised on that success after hooking up with One to record their 1985 debut, Our Garden…, which turned the duo into superstars across West Africa, filling stadia, playing state galas and even a political summit. As back stories go, theirs is certainly compelling. But equally intriguing is the record’s anomalous sound, which fits neither indigenous ziglibithy nor then popular Western funk and reggae moulds; rather, it’s a country-folk set, self-produced, sung in three languages and channelling the likes of Glen Campbell, Don Williams, CSNY and Simon & Garfunkel through the traditional village music of the men’s childhoods. These eight songs, bolstered by session players, feature multiple guitar crosscurrents, gently soaring
vocal harmonies, keys and harmonica in dulcet arrangements. highlights are “Katin”, with its gulped wicka-wicka rhythms, the twangling “Kango” and the lush, laidback, slide-heavy title track, but charm is everywhere.
The Psychedelic Furs in 1983