|'Rock 'N' Roll and
By: Gregg Kofi Brown
(Paperback / Gonzo Multimedia / 132 Pages / $19.89) Description: Gregg Kofi-Brown is, of course best known for his work with seminal African funk rock pioneers Osibisa. they were one of the first, if not THE first African band to achieve popular success in the West. With conscience laden lyrics and funky afro-rhythms Gregg has a created a multi-national musical platform with his guest artists that speaks to many peoples across the world. Gregg Kofi Brown was executive producer of the 2003 Evening Standard cover-mount CD give away in memory of Damilola Taylor which featured the likes of Robbie Williams, Craig David, Gorillaz, Blue and Ms.Dynamite. This is his story.
Verdict: A fascinating and prolific artist, Gregg Kofi Brown has made an invaluable contribution to the popularity and evolution of world music. Now with the release of his brand new autobiography, 'Rock 'N' Roll and UFOs' we get to delve into the mind of the man himself, discovering things about him along the way that were only ever once laid tracks within his own mind, now allowing us to take this journey of a lifetime alongside him.
As the book unfolds, the Preface brings us swiftly into the headlights of Brown. Indeed, Ghanaian musician Gregg Kofi Brown spent nearly twenty years with pioneering world music outfit Osibisa before releasing his first solo album, Together As One, in 2005. Formed in London in 1969 by a group of African and Caribbean musicians, Osibisa fused the sounds of the various band members’ homelands with elements of R&B, rock, jazz, and funk to create an entirely new genre of music.
It was one that found a small, but loyal cult audience in both the U.K. and the U.S. as the band landed albums like 1971’s self-titled Osibisa and its follow-up, Woyaya, onto the Billboard magazine charts.
Brown subsequently joined Osibisa in the mid-80s and continues to make great music with the band, helping to expand its audience and influence worldwide while also recording solo music with friends like jazz legends Billy Cobham and Stanley Jordan, both of whom appeared on Together As One.
Having already released a new music album of the same title, Rock 'N' Roll and UFOs on June 24th, 2016 via Gonzo Multimedia UK, that incredible career-spanning anthology is just the most perfect accompaniment to Brown’s autobiography (released March 28th, 2016).
Brown’s autobiography is not only an indepth look into Brown's life, his upbringing, the well that houses his musical inspirations, but a darn fun read too. From the first Chapter, "Beginning the Journey" on through to the very last one, "Rock Opera", each of the ten Chapters are well written, never clogged, and always light enough to enable you to easily read one after another.
It really is an easy read and yet, at all times, you feel like you are standing alongside Brown as his journey builds to the here and now. Whether it was ghost written is not even a concern (to me, at least) as Brown's tight paragraphs of informative insight are mesmerizing at times. Even if you're not a fan of the man (but why not?), one read of this musical fare will be enough to have you searching for his library of work, trust me.
Personally, and knowing his history, I think my favorite Chapter is number 7, entitled "Number 1 in America!" He relates how an unknown Italian singer Alisha had covered one of his songs and was getting some major radio airplay with it in the US. Produced by Mark Berry, remixed by the legendary Shep Pettibone (Madonna), the song 'Baby Talk' actually struck Gold and hit #1 on the Billboard Singles Chart that year. His documented meeting with Alisha is priceless, and inclusive of his family, turns out to be yet another pivotal moment in Brown's career.
'Rock ‘n’ Roll and UFOs' is also chock full of wonderful stories, tales of globetrotting as part of Osibisa, and as a solo artist, but also from his work as a studio bassist and producer with artists like Joe Cocker, Eric Burdon, Hanoi Rocks, and Bomb da Bass. Brown has also enjoyed a modicum of success as an actor, performing as Jellyroll Morton at London’s prestigious Royal Court Theatre as well as in the hit musical Tribute to the Blues Brothers. The book also reveals the "truth" behind the title, documenting “three strange encounters” experienced by Brown in the California desert!
Also containing reflective black and white photos midway through, and combined with his educated speech (which still comes across nicely in the written form), Gregg Kofi Brown promises a lot with the release of this book - and delivers, hook, like and sinker with each passing Chapter.
'Rock 'N' Roll and UFOs' - Gregg Kofi Brown Book Purchase Link
CD Purchase Link