Sugar Daddy’s Funky Reissue

Joe King Kologbo & The High Grace’s Sugar Daddy represents a strange time in music, in politics, and in hybridity. Recorded during the Biafran war, when Joe King Kologbo had to flee Ghana, his homeland, Sugar Daddy is a joyous mix of Afro-funk, American pop, soul grooves and electronic manipulation, an album that war could not silence (and for good reason). With three songs on its tracklisting, it’s safe to assume this world gem is all about the groove.

The first and title track of the album is a fifteen and a half minute banger that finds and abandons uber-catchy grooves with ease. “Sugar Daddy” consistently returns to its chorused hook–giving the song a call and response feel as Joe King Kologbo riffs melodic up and down the groove. Unlike most soul or funk coming out of America, which favored one or two elements to anchor a track, “Sugar Daddy” doesn’t lean prominently on any one of its musical aspects for strength.

Instead, and perhaps this is Kologbo’s genius, the song weaves its parts and sounds together into one inseparable song. Whether its Kologbo’s guitar, the sax leads, the horned-out rhythm section, or the thin synth patterns in the background, “Sugar Daddy” is a peek into what happens when two overlapping aesthetics fold into each other.


The song is definitely telling for the rest of Sugar Daddy. Joe King Kologbo &The High Grace blend Afro-funk and Afro-rock with American soul and rock (one can hear elements of The Beach Boys layered deeply within the album) to create something that is raw and unlike anything before or after. And this uniqueness definitely piques more than just a passing interest for those in the scene.

First pressed by Electromat Records in the 80s, Sugar Daddy sports a hefty price-tag for an original. Luckily for those of us who don’t have a pretty penny to throw toward a record, Strut’s repressing cuts the price for hearing this groundbreaking record on wax quite substantially. Remastered by The Carvery, with the original artwork, this reissue is long past its due. Sugar Daddy comes with interviews from Oghene Kologbo and other highlife players, so not only is this rare Afro-funk available, it has much more than the original.

If you’re a fan of Feli Kuti, Antibalas, Awesome Tapes from Africa, or any combination of jazz, funk, and world music, then Sugar Daddy by Joe King Kologbo & The High Grace is a must have. Playful and groovy, rhythmic and heated, the album is equal parts shine and warning. Give the record a spin and I guarantee you’ll be hooked to its jittering and unique melodies, to its growing and unfolding rhythms.

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