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Ghana's Highlife Music Collection

Ghanaian music album sleeves

7. Foreign designers, Ghanaian artists

Jewel Ackah, Electric Hi-Life (1986)Jewel Ackah, Electric Hi-Life (1986)Hedzoleh, [Self-titled] (ca 1974)George Darko, Moni Palava (1986)
Asona RecordsAsona RecordsEMIMark Jessett Associate

Stargazers Dance Band, Stars High Life (ca 1962)Lee Dodou & Kantata, Mampong Dwa (ca 1989)King Kwabena Onyina, Original Evergreen Tunes (ca 1970)Ramblers International, [Self-titled] (1976)
DeccaNakasi RecordsSabrightDecca

Born in 1944, British artist and designer, Roger Dean was much commissioned by British bands of the progressive rock movement to create album covers. His unique vision was responsible for some of the most iconic imagery of the 1970s and 80s. The Flying Elephant illustrates a label created by the Afro-rock band Osibisa. (Nick De Ville, Album style and image in sleeve design, Mitchell Beazley, 2003;

E.K. Nyame Professionnal Band, Gethsemani (ca 1970)Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, Apple (1986)Osibisa, Woyaya (1971)Osibisa, Osibirock (1974)
Skanophone RecordsE.S. AdooRoger DeanP. Gallen

Neville Brody is a designer, typographer and art director. Born in London, he studied at the London College of Printing. In the 1980’s he created a number of record covers for recording companies such as Stiff and Fetish Record where he produced some of his most notable projects and iconic work, in particular a body of work for Cabaret Voltaire and industrial post punk band 23 Skidoo. (

Apollo International Band of Ghana, Greatest Hits (1984)City Boys International Band (Obuoba J.A. Adofo), Medo Wiase (1985)A.B. Crentsil's Ahenfo Band, High Life in Canada (1987)Kantata, Asiko (1984)
Ibukonola Printers Ltd.Ibukonola Printers Ltd.Highlife KingNeville Brody

Elombe Brath was born in 1936 in Brooklyn and grew up in Harlem. He formed the African Jazz Arts Society and Studios in 1956, a cultural group of Black artists, photographers, performers and students who gathered to promote Black Arts and Culture.

Kwame Brathwaite has been considered the ever present “photo-documentarian” of the Black Cultural movement, the “Keeper of the images”. While earning a living as a fashion and entertainment photographer, his primary interest has been the recording of the history of the African Cultural Revolution and the African Liberation struggle. He is a co-founder of the African Jazz-Art Society with Elombe Brath. (

Jeff Tagoe & Vis-A-Vis, I No Go Jealous (ca 1980)Glenn (Ghanababa) Warren, Rythms of Happy Feelings (1980)Bunzu Soundz, [Self-titled] (1976)Bunzu Soundz, [Self-titled] (1976)
PhonogramE. Brath & K. BrathwaiteVivian RayfordGhariokwu Lemi Art

Ghariokwu Lemi was born in 1956 in Nigeria. He is a self-taught album cover designer and over the last three decades, his creative skills have seen him work with various famous musicians like the late Fela Kuti. Lemi was the exclusive sleeve designer for the Afrodisia label that was owned by Faisal Helwani, a Ghanaian born Lebanese. Lemi designed hundreds of album sleeves for musicians like E.T. Mensah, Bob Marley and many others. One of his works is part of the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

8. Identity

A key to insure success in album sleeve design is to emphasize the identity of the artist and his or her distinctiveness. Identity defines the genre allegiance of the performer and distinctiveness is the attribute that distinguish this album from the work of other performers. This can be achieved for example by accentuating the Ghanaian origins of a band, the traditional roots of its music, the mood of the album or by identifying the lead performer(s) of the band.

Jewel Ackah, London Connection (1984)Consular, Humble & Tribal War (ca 1986)Kwame Nkrumah, The Voice Of Kwame Nkrumah of Africa (1976)Alex Konadu's Band, Nsa Dwa Se (ca 1976)
Papa KodjoConsularBernard Moey E.E. Lamptey

Ramblers Dance Band, Ramblers Encores (ca 1963)Osibisa, Ojah Awake (1976)Tony Safo & Bisa Goma, In Afrosibi (1975)Wulomei, Kunta Kinte (1978)
DeccaGraham HughesE.E. LampteyM. Bampoe & Willis Bell

9. Paper sleeves

The generic paper sleeve which preceded the album cover was printed by the record companies and often used by retailers to advertise their own shop.

His Master's Voice paper sleeve (ca 1950)Senafone paper sleeve (ca 1950)Columbia paper sleeve (ca 1950)Opika paper sleeve (ca 1950)
His Master's VoiceSenafoneColumbiaOpika

Zonophone paper sleeve (ca 1930)Queenophone paper sleeve (ca 1950)His Master's Voice paper sleeve (ca 1960)Philips paper sleeve (ca 1960)
ZonophoneQueenophoneHis Master's VoicePhilips

10. Music Publishers

Advertising companies, studios and music publishers employed artists who were not credited on the sleeves. These anonymous artists are found in most of the major publishing companies such as Target Advertising Company, Broadway Films and Calendars, Ambassador Studios and Recording Companies, and Design Emporium.

C.K. Mann & His Carousel 7, With Love From... (1975)C.K. Mann Backed By The Melodic Trio, Enyigye Wo Sor Ho Vol.2 (1976)Kofi Sammy And His Okukuseku Band, Bosoe Special (ca 1978)Kakaiku's Guitar Band, Adadam Paa Nie Vol. 1 (ca 1973)
Target AdvertisingTarget AdvertisingBroadway Films & CalendarsBroadway Films & Calendars

African Brothers Band (International), Osekufuo (ca 1971)African Brothers Band (International), The Best of Kwame Ampadu (ca 1971)The Parrots (Nkoo) Band Led By Kofi Ani Johnson, Madamfo Pa (ca 1978)Ebo Taylor, My Love And Music (ca 1976)
Broadway Films & CalendarsKoko Printings WorksSabrightLeo’s Advertising Services

Kwaw Paintsil Ansah was born in 1941 in Ghana. He studied theatre design and dramatic art in London, New York and Los Angeles. After returning to Ghana, he found Target Advertising Services in 1973 (now called Target Saatchi & Saatchi Ltd) and in 1977, he founded his film production company, Film Africa Limited. His film Heritage Africa won the grand prize at FESPACO in 1989, the Organization for African Unity's Best Film Award, the Outstanding Film Award at the 1989 London Film Festival. In 1998 he was awarded the Living Legend Award for Contribution to the Arts of Ghana, by ACRAG (Arts Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana). Since 2002, he is the managing director of Television Africa. (Michael Dembrow, Portland Festival).

11. Recording Companies

The first Ghanaian recording company was founded in Kumasi by Mr. A.K. Badu in 1954 under the name of The Ambassador Records Manufacturing Company. Other companies came to production among which are Gold Coast Broadcasting Service, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Ghanaphone Records, Ghana Films Studio, Essiebons, Gapophone, etc.

Pat Thomas, Wednesday at Tip Toe (1976)Pat Thomas And Marijata, [Self-titled] (1977)Eddie Donkor, Na Me Cause `Am... (ca 1977)The Great Pilsners, Band of the year 1978-79 (ca 1977)

City Boys International Band, Aka Menkoaa (1977)A.B. Crentsil, Moses (ca 1989)Ogyatanaa, Yerefrefre (ca 1975)City Boys Band, Odo Nnidi Ntwen Me  (ca 1974)
Awosco & Sons Ghana Films StudioAgoroRainbow

K.K.'s No. 2 Band, Odo Na Abusua (1976)F. Kenya, The Power House (1975)C.K. Mann & His Carousel 7, Party Time with "Ceekay" (1973)Atakora Manu, Disko Hi-Life (ca 1981)

Rim Akandoh and his Prince Sparrows Band, Fame Ko Baabi A Odo Wo (1972)Dan Boadi and the Z.S., Abrabo (1976)Kyerematen Atwedie Stars, Faye Me Nkoa (ca 1980)Pat Thomas, Asawa Do (1976)

12. Religious Images and Church Choirs

Evangelical and Charismatic churches are found throughout Southern and Central Ghana. Illustrations, reproduction of pious images, photographs of church choirs reflect the religious content of the albums with subjects depicting the promise of salvation by Jesus, the duality of good and evil and the punishment of the sinners:

Angel Group singers, AtemudaWestern Melodic Singers, Anwanwa Do (ca 1975)Western Melodic Singers, Womma Yensor (1974)Happy Stars, Honhom Kronkron (ca 1978)
A.K. Quartey & E.A. AkrofiSamuel BuabinKofi Atta-BaduE.E. Lamptey

Nana Sah Brempong & The Baptist Disciple Singers, Elijah Wo He (1983)Okyeame Kwame Bediako & His Messengers, God V. Satan (1977)The Advent Heralds, Mede Aseda Bema Yehowa (1976)Ebo Taylor & Salpong Barkers Choir, Me Kra Tsie (1979)<br />
Big JerryMantsefio BampoeMantsefio BampoeBig Jerry

Ambassador Choir of Ghana, Onyimpa Nember KumaabiOsiem Presbyterian Choir, Onyankopon Ma Enye YiyeS. Adarkwa Boateng & New Testament Gospel Band, Gye Me TaataaWestern Melodic Singers, Ewuradze Maba (1976)
AnonymousBroadway Films & CalendarsMike Owusu-SiawTarget Advertising

Asiakwa Brass Band, Wo Tese Mawu A Didi  (ca 1978)Osofo Dadzie, Osofo Dadzie Sings OutSamuel Oduro Kusi & Kumasi Bantama Christ Revival Singers, Wo Pe Nye HoHappy Gospel Band Kumasi, Ahensan
Broadway Films & CalendarsStudio X23AnonymousAnonymous

The Gramophone Records Museum thanks everyone who has contributed to the development of this collection in donating some of their vintage records.

Kwame Sarpong © 2006 rev. 2014 FDL