Vincent Ahehehinnou‘s afrobeat credentials are in full evidence on opening track “Best Woman” whose driving beat, focussed horns and intricate vocal melody recall the raucous intensity of Poly-Rythmo. But the deep funk of the title track turns out to be only a warm-up for album-highlight ‘Maimouna Cherie’ (French), a moving expression of love and longing which kicks off with a hi-hat and wah-wah guitar workout but shifts gears mid-way into a more concentrated and contemplative groove.
The funk and afrobeat gems on “Best Woman” are balanced by songs that draw upon Sato, one of the many Vodoun rhythms of Vincent‘s native Benin. Side one concludes with “Vi Deka” (Mina), an epic slow-burner propelled by some of the record’s most soulful vocals, while album closer “Wa Do Verite Ton Noumi” (Fon) all but dares you not to lose yourself in its sublime hypnotic trance.
“Best Woman” was released on Nigeria’s Hasbunalau Records in 1978, and original pressings are now highly-prized collector’s items. With this reissue on Analog Africa’s Dance Edition imprint – newly mastered by Nick Robbins, cut by to vinyl by Frank Merritt at the Carvery, and approved by Vincent himself – Best Woman makes a welcome and long-overdue return to turntables around the world.