Dance To It
Jo Bisso was born and raised in Yaounde, the political capital Cameroon. He grew up being a fan of American soul music such as Otis Reading and Wilson picket. In 1971 he left Cameroun to pursue his musical career. Beginning an 8 year stint of Paris to New York jet trips the young ambitious man forged his musical career on his own terms; Staring off with the minor hit "Flying To The Land Of Soul" which he signed to Decca and moving on to produce, finance, write and create several albums released under his own name and other artsits such as Sookie and Venise.
In 1975 Jo created his genre blended debut album "Jo Tongo" on the Paris based Disques Esperance label. Sung in English and his native language it was way ahead of its time for the day, blending Jazz, Funk, Soul, afro rhythms and the sounds that were at the time being come to be known as Disco. The album was produced by Jo who plays a wide variety of the instruements and contributes his baritone "Barry White" tinged spoken vocals about life and love.
The album opens up with the title track "Dance To It", A slice of groovy lounge-funk. Part 1 is all about the driving catchy groove which is layered with a downtown funk saxophone lead line. Part 2 brings in Jo's spoken vocals in his native language and English, setting the tone of the album to come. "Disco Madonna" introduces a Latin flavour with Spanish vocals, a rumba groove and darting percussion. "Ramaya" melds a playful, summery, euro melody with Jo's throaty, fun-loving vocals and a nascent use of synthesizers.
"Lets Keep It Together" is a song in two parts. The first half builds the groove over washy guitar, and chords before breaking into a solid soul riff with bass, Rhodes and guitar. Over this Jo layers the catchy, soulful vocals, summer-breeze guitars and jazzy keys. A real treat. Flip over to the Vinyl B side for what is probably the albums most "getting down" moment. The driving funk of "Give It Up". Stabby brass, whirling organ and tight bass which is all wrapped up in a one tight arrangement. Add in doses of Jo's sulty vocal and that is a recipe for a real winner.
"Don't Fight The Feeling" again furthers into real deep funk territory. Jo opening up with a sermon on "love and sex". The album closes with the swinging soul of the pensive Jo and his thoughts on life, "Odwa". What is going down?
The Give It Up track was a highlight of the recent Africa Seven debut release "African Airways Volume 1: (Funk Connection 1972-1979). To Follow that up Africa Seven are proud to repress the debut Jo Bisso album in its full glory.
Jo moved back from the US in 1981. From 1981 to 1989 his lived in Cote D'Ivoire. He now lives in Paris and although he sometimes "finds it hard to listen to his albums", he does thinks it great that people love his music and his debut album is getting a re-release all these years later.