We’re very proud to present here the first of two legendary ‘lost’ albums both previously available only as rare-as-hen’s teeth private presses, from one Samuel K. Mfojo, the man known as Rim Kwaku Obeng.
As well as heralding the arrival as solo artist of an exciting new drummer, the title of his 1977 debut, Rim Arrives, also makes reference to the long struggle Kwaku had in getting to that point. To say that he ‘paid his dues’ is an understatement!
A member of one of Ghana’s most popular bands, the Uhuru Dance Band, during a period when ‘every song was a hit’, the recording studios of LA were even more alluring to an aspirant musician, and he followed his bandmate, Duke Oketa, there for a session in 1973. Despite having hired a massive string section, Oketa failed to provide charts for the session, and it was postponed for a week, with Kwaku being asked to write them instead. He turned it around, pocketed $700, and won the admiration of Quincy Jones who was hanging out at A&M’s studios and asked Kwaku to join him … only to back off when Oketa intervened, threatening a lawsuit if Kwaku walked.
That scuppered opportunity was as nothing compared to the disaster that next befell him: having flown to London with Duke’s band, to record with ‘a band called Traffic’ and a young singer-songwriter called Joan Armatrading, Kwaku found himself marooned in the city without money, documentation or friends. Oketa had checked out of their hotel the first night, and had Kwaku’s passport and luggage with him. Despite the sympathy of the hotel staff, he found himself on the streets, and thus in 1973 began a six-month period as a homeless, destitute, undocumented stranger.
That Kwaku by chance managed to meet Armatrading, who helped him get his life back on track, by chance passing Ronnie Scott’s where she was playing, was an even more unlikely twist in the fate of this promising young musician. He never found out why Oketa had abandoned him, but he fulfilled his promise, recording Rim Arrives in San Francisco in 1977.
That year was the zenith of disco, and pretty much anybody who entered a recording studio that year cut a disco record. Rim was no exception, his Ghanaian rhythms tailor-made for the percussive energy that was fuelling the clubs of the day. With a mixture of hot LA session musicians and African emigrés, he cut an album that very much captures the spirit of its time. As well as kit drums, conga and an array of percussive instruments, the multi-talented bandleader also played piano and clavinet on the sessions. Throw in some tight horn riffs, Fela-style call and response vocals, and you have an album that fits the current mania for both vintage African music and ever-more obscure disco perfectly. Cuts like Brushing Means Making Love, Gas Line and Believe In Yourself and have been tearing up dancefloors in the hands of specialist DJs for some time: now it’s time for the rest of the world to catch up.
Also included is International Funk, a very in-demand 12” he recorded later as Rim and The Believers, with drum machines and synths in full 1980s effect!
Serious Afro-disco heat here, with the originals fetching silly money, these records were overlooked at the time, with the glut of amazing music that characterized the era; but, nearly four decades on, it’s fair to say that, Rim really has arrived!