Two Man Ting’s debut album,Legacy, brings us sparkling maringa, palm wine and highlife grooves alongside delicious guitar playing, inspired djembe rhythms, witty observations and the Mende wisdom passed on by a mum from Sierra Leone. It all adds up to remind us that it’s the simple things in life that matter.
Two Man Ting are Jon Lewis and Jah-man Aggrey who played together as part of Le Cod Afrique before creating the streamlined outfit, in 2004. One djembe, a bag of percussion, one guitar, a few pedals and two great voices, have given the duo not only the the dance factor but the lightness, and flexibility needed to travel the UK festival circuit. They have appeared at WOMAD, Glastonbury, The Green Man or the Solar stage of the Small World festival getting crowds dancing to their repetoire which fuses caribbean, blues, West African and Strummeresque influences. Taking time away from their busy live schedule, Two Man Ting went into the Potting Shed studios in 2010 to capture their essence on shiny silver discs.
The album, Legacy, is the result and it opens with gentle bells, as if the sun is setting and the goats are coming in from the hills. In a Buddhist way it clears the air and focuses the mind in readiness for the of the pared down voice and percussion track “Kaboh”. A welcome, which goes on to ask the youth to please take life’s bearing trials calmly, for this life of ours is not a sprint, but an endurance race.
Legacy is a quarter full of creative arrangements of other peoples songs and three quarters full of their own material. One of their own compositions that seems to attract most affection is, the wittily entitled, Duvet Song, bemoaning the English weather and the need, after twenty years in the UK to warm up under the duvet. Another self penned track further into the album, “Pull You Mot Day” instantly conjoured up a roadside incident involving a car, a driver and out of date papers. It is in actual fact about a busy body gossip who needs to take their mouth out of it, or their "Mot" in the Krio language.
Highlights include a sublime version “St Thomas” where the sax of Sonny Rollins is substituted with Lewis’s guitar and a marimba loop. The whole song is given a new maringa personality that also echoes in the later track Badger Shoes. “Armagideon Time” pays homage to Willy Williams, a stealthy skank and great guitar picking give the backdrop to Lewis’s vocals which are a perfect fit whilst Aggrey brings touch of Prince Fari with a loud hailer.
And I musn't forget to mention "Tingbash" an unfettered musical explosion and excursion of discovering the child within. No wonder they both look so darn happy on the album artwork and sleeve notes.
We’ve been a little late out of the starting blocks with this album as the first copy was sent to a defunct postal address . Now we are on it, it’s rapidly becoming one of our most played albums here at GondwanaTowers. Two Man Ting have created between them a classic, timeless album and whilst we in the midst of a western economic, this album provides the perfect antidote to counteract the poison of greed and materialism. Something the whole of the West African Coastal countries know a thing or two about as stated in "Le Go We Ba" All that nature has got to offer they've taken, gold,silver,diamonds.....tell them to let go.
Willy Williams, S.E. Rogie, Ebenezer Calender and the Famous Scrubbs would love it.