Put simply, highlife music is a style of West African pop music that developed around the turn of the century: primarily guitar-based band music with rhythms and syncopated horn sections that display (either explicit or implicit) Cuban and Latin Caribbean influences. It’s often associated with the nation of Ghana, it’s usually an immediate, propulsive and infectiously joyful sound, and it’s a style of African music that you don’t hear too much in the USA unless you keep your eyes and ears open. That’s where compilations like Electric Highlife come in. Though recorded in 1978 & 1980, it’s an captivating survey of highlife in all its scintillating, grooving glory. Some tracks accent the Latin influences, like George Adu’s "Obina Mma Obi Kyere No," where a wistful, mid-tempo Jerry Garcia-like electric guitar motif is juxtaposed with bubbling Cuban-tinged rhythms and crackling percussion, while others, like Guyoyo’s "Osikuni Atamfo" is based in the repetitive, folk-blues African guitar music like what you’d hear on (early) Baaba Maal and Ali Farke Toure albums. This is NOT any sort of gussied-up world-beat/Afro-pop "crossover" thing - this is undiluted highlife, collected from records from Ghana, of groups with names like the Black Beats (whose "Tsutsu Tsoemo" sounds like New Orleans zydeco with Mexican Mariachi horns, a crazy sax solo that’s a cross between Tommy McCook and Boots Randolph and a wack guitar solo from The Tornados’ "Telestar"!), Beach Scorpions (!) and Happy Boys. The recording quality is bright and vibrant, the booklet’s got a few nice old photos, detailed, user-friendly liner notes that you don’t have to be an ethnomusicologist to grasp and if the opening track by F. Kenya doesn’t impart at least a little verve ‘n’ joie de vivre, have yourself checked for vitamin deficiency posthaste.