Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Pat Thomas

  • Pat Thomas and Kwabishu Area Band [Strut, 2015] B+
  • Coming Home [Strut, 2016] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Pat Thomas and Kwabishu Area Band [Strut, 2015]
Including an unredundant remake of a tune that merited two versions on his best-of as well as two other '80s hits he left off it, which was slick, this 2015 recording was cut in Accra, mixed in Berlin, and features Afrobeat trapmaster Tony Allen here and there. On "Oye Hasem" especially, second banana Ebo Taylor's horn arrangements get wearing, and Thomas definitely needs those chestnuts to tone up his tune stock. But for a new Afropop album with a subgenius frontman who has to be 60 by now, a stroke. B+

Coming Home [Strut, 2016]
This minor highlife legend doesn't sport as colorful a name as his sweeter bandmate Jewel Ackah or his grittier rival A.B. Crentsil--an enterprising subgenius, that's all. So after Ghana's economy went blooey in the early '80s, he relocated to Germany and spent quality time in Canada too, which left him with a two-CD cherry-pick documenting a syncretic shouter-crooner-moaner who does what pop pros do--cultivate collaborators, find tunes, and turn the beat around. Riding the rhythmic and presentational developments, tendencies, and fads of a stylistic catchall that's signified many things over many decades, he put his name on a whole bunch of terrific highlife singles, most of them in English. If one at the beginning and one at the end are credited to Broadway Dance Band and Super Sounds Namba, respectively, that's because band politics are a piece of the pop pro puzzle too. A-