AFRICAN PSYCH, PSYCH-ROCK AND CROSSOVERS
PAGE 5 : NIGERIA
review page 1

V.A.: "Nigeria 70" ('70s)
V.A.: "Nigeria Rock Special" ('71-'79)
V.A.: "The World Ends" ('70s/'10)
V.A. : Lagos Disco Inferno ('10)

Blo ('72-'82/'01,'72,'73,'75,'75+'79/'01)
Ofege ('74,'74)
Question Mark ('74)
SJOB Movement ('74/'09)
Mebusas ('73/'09)
Tirogo ('77/'10)
Blackman Akeeb Kareem ('74/'11)
Remi Kabaka/"Black Goddess" OST ('77/'11)
The Apostles ('70s?/'12)

NIGERIA REVIEW PAGE 2->
EMI Ofege : Try and Love (NIG,1974)****°
EMI Ofege : The Last Of The Origins (NIG,1974)****

Ofege was formed by a bunch of teenage hipsters at the prestigious St. Gregory's College in the Obalende area of Lagos. Comband Razor described them as "a cross between the Bay City Rollers and Santana". He also said "It's clear that for Ofege, songs were largely incidental, little more than excuses to launch into insane, distorted guitar solos. It's also very clear that they smoked a lot of weed."

"The Last Of The Origins" is a great rock record with a rather psychedelic approach. The rhythm section is attractive and complex and has African inspirations. The songs themselves aren’t really great lyrically, but the drive is incredible, and everywhere they can they add attention to instrumental parts where the organ, in a psychedelic way takes care of mind-losing groove, while fuzz guitars soar and improvise. The vocals can be post-60s, a bit Stones like or just leave themselves flooding with the psychedelic drive.

"Try and Love" from the same year was published actually before "The Last of the Origins". "Nobody Fails" continues in the same vain, with slight what I called post-60s harmony vocals (also especially “It’s not easy” has such vocals). Also here in this song the fuzz breaks out/breaks free, wild and uncompromising, while the rhythms in an African way are repeated and smoothly carry the song. Also here the bits of funky elements are completely dissolved in the psychedelic effect of all. The rhythms are complex and groovy.

It took some years before other albums appeared. Some members still had to finish university.

Paul Alade (bass, vocals), Dapo Olumide (keyboards), Melvin Noks (= Melvin Anokuru or Melvin Ukachi ?) (guitar, lead vocals, percussion), M-Ike Meme (drums, vocals, percussion) and Filix Inneh (vocals, gong)

Audio : "Gbe Mi Lo" (WMFU)
Info : http://soul-sides.com/2006/09/ofege-monomono-loungin-in-lagos.html
http://www.africantheaterusa.com/OfegePhenomThe1970sBoyBand.htm
http://www.cdandlp.com/item/2/1578-0-1-1-O/21524531_Ofege.html
Discography : http://www.groovecollector.com/groove_guide_artist/2/663/ofege.html
Description of "try and love" : http://www.somnius.com/...



Afro Strut  V.A. : Nigeria 70 -3cd- (NIG,1970s)***°°

Remarks from previous radioshow when I used this album before :

* Ofo The Black Company : "Allah Wakbarr" (1972) 4 min :
"A funky psych garage like Afro-rock track with lots of electric guitar outbursts with certain "Hendrix" references and a psych organ. This was a single recorded in London (Afrodisia / Decca rec.)."
* Afro Cult Foundation : "The Quest" 8 min :
"A structured Afro-Brazilian jazz fusion rock track based upon earlier jams (taken from LP "A Deusa Negra", Afrodisia / Decca Rec.)"
* Fela Anikulapo Kuti & The Africa 70 & Sandra Akanke Isidore : "Upside Down" 15 min:
"I guess Fela used often very complex rhythms and improvisation structures. The few tracks I heard before (I did not hear too many yet) did sound very "Afro-sound"/highlife to me. This particular track is a fine choice that can be appreciated from all kind of viewpoints. It contains a fantastic drum & percussive rhythms, with psych organ improvisations, very funky electric guitar, some brass and jazzy sax improvisations. Hypnotic ! Further on Sandra Isidore takes in and sings soulfully on the rhythm (with a female vocal backing band), and then the band continues in a very groovy way. This band, Africa 70, was called Nigeria 70 before. Their new Afrobeat sound created a very creative musical period with Fela Kuti as its celebrated figure. "

The third CD contains a documentary broadcast on Nigerian music in the 70s.

There are plenty of Fela Kuti WebPages on the web. One of them is this one:
Articles on this compilation :
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=10486
& http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/world/reviews/var_nigeria70.shtml#review
& http://www.musthear.com/reviews/nigeria70.html
& http://www.gullbuy.com/buy/2001/12_11/nigeria.cfm
& http://www.allthingsdeep.com/reviews/nigeria_70.htm

Update : not long after this article suddenly a part 2 was published. I heard the item, but it contains less essential material of Afrocrock.



Afro Strut Blo : Phases 1972-1982 (NIG,re.2001)***°°
tracks I airplayed before : 
Tr.6, "Don't take her away from me" 5 min, Tr.3, "Chant to Mother Earth" 7 min,Tr.2, "Miss Sagit" 5 min 17
ShadoksBlo : Chapter One (NIG,1972)*****

Only after having listened to Blo’s first album did I realize how much Blo’s previous compilation deals with the later, rather than his prime creative time, globaly received “Afro-sound” interest (which in Nigeria meant highlife, juju and afro-funk), an interest which especially still picked up this group for a reissue only, because Blo was forced into this popularity to survive, and that the Afrostrut label was willing to have some rock element in it, to show where they came from, without really fully showing yet how good they really were with these origins. Blo’s original album showed heavy rock with a very progressive origin. The groups own creative ideas were, at this stage, I would say “luckily”, independent from these later generalizations of creativity ; they still had no need to find a common "black" sound, and were not influenced yet by their management and label who wanted to force them into soul, funk or some kind of more hit friendly genre. This was still the fundamental “real” thing in its creative wildness, comparable a bit to how the group Witch sounded, but trippier and with many more electric solos.

A great thing about the Afrostrut compilation is that it contained an interview with the former bassplayer of the band who explained thoroughly the history of the band. It seems that as musicians they first played highlife, tried to be like The Beatles, Rolling Stones and then James Brown for a while. They had started as a schoolband called The Clusters. There was a brief encounter with Fela Kuti but not too much. A first change in style came after having seen Geraldo Pino with his blend of Elvis, UK beat, rumba, cha-chas and soul. So then they generally played Afrorock which was mostly with a highlife direction. They often cooperated with the Lijadu Sisters. There were plans for a European tour, but they soon realized it needed something far more original to get heard, within that African origin of originality, than what was commonly heard in afro-soul, rock or dance. Ginger Baker (Vream, G.B.Airforce) had come three times to Lagos. And from the beginning he showed interest in the drummer, The Clusters and the Lijadu Sisters. He even briefly jammed with The Clusters, and it was filmed by a BBC crew. He took two musicians with him to UK to play as Airforce II. When he came back for a third time he planned to form a much more African sounding group, that was going to be called Salt. The Clusters as well as the Lijadu Sisters were involved. Laolu explains it was at a time when Fela wasn’t considered highlife enough by the public, so Fela tried to look for covers, and directions in soul and disco until he was so tired of this he just did his own thing which soon was going to develop into the ‘afrobeat’ sound, with the guitars in the background, and brass more to the front (Fela was a trumpetist). The Clusters on the other hand hoped the importance of guitars wouldn’t be forgotton. In the meanwhile they toured with Ginger Baker, played with some jazz musicians, in German cities, the States, Canada, in Europe before returning to Nigeria. Laolu considers Ginger to be a great connection between Mahivishnu Orchestra and Salt with his own kind of unique rhythm feeling, but he thinks this African element was still a bit too different for him so that Salt could become important. No tapes were saved from this period. Having returned to Nigeria, late 1972, the trio changed their name to Blo, (with B for Berkely “Ike” Jones –guitar-, L for Laolu “Akins” Akintobu -drums- and O for Mike “Gbenga” Odumosu –bass-) and wanted to do something completely different now, separated from the Lijadu Sisters and focused more on the rocking guitars, while keeping especially in the bass the African element alive. After their first LP, in December 1973 they blew Osibisa from the stage, who were more African styled mixed with Caribbean, while Blo showed a more rock drive mixed with absorbed traces of Afro, blowing their own songs approach away with its instrumental trippiness. 

The album gives a real perfect listen and also blows you into a trippy character, while balancing a bit between rock, funk and psychedelia tendencies, but with mostly a dominating talent on electric guitars, while showing also great skills on drums and bass. Any of the “African” elements were reduced to traces because they were in fact completely absorbed into the heavy rock drive. The third track, “beware” sounds like as if a more soulful version of Dr.John’s Night Tripper with wahwah and such with very funky vibes added to the heavy rock sound, while a track like “Miss Sagit” can’t go much more psychedelic than this. Even when the album sounds like a real masterpiece to me, EMI dropped them (not sure how many were sold, I guess a 1000).

Their management, and interest from a new label Afrodisia, forced them to change direction a bit, to have more funk or soul, or preferable go to make hits. They didn’t mind the funkier road, so they tried to take their own influences of Grand Funk Railroad and Isley Brothers to get launched into African territories. See "phase 2" :

Audio from Phases 1972-1982 : "Miss Sagit" (chapter 1), "Preacher Man" (Chapter 1),
"Number one" (origin ??)
Description : http://www.rockadrome.com/...http://www.forcedexposure.com/..
Biography : http://www.windowsmedia.com/... & http://www.answers.com...
Review of compilation : http://www.allaboutjazz.com/reviews/r1102_089.htm
& on http://www.grooveattack.com/...
Chapter one : http://www.psychedelic-music.com/psychedelic1.htmlnext album->





not reissued yetBlo : Phase two (NIG,1973)***°

Their management, and interest from a new label Afrodisia, forced them to change direction a bit, to more funk or soul elements, or preferable try to make hits. They didn’t mind the funkier road, so they tried to take their own influences of Grand Funk Railroad and Isley Brothers to get launched into African territories.  I assume that for them, in this new phase they didn’t have much choice in changing direction, which still made a good album, this time a much more pure Afro album, so which repeated African repetitive patterns and left less space for electric guitar explorations. Best track for psych lovers is the longest track, “Native Doctor” with fuzz and also some more organ. Their afro-funk direction still suited them well but wasn’t as strong as their completely free choice from before. "Atide" is Afro-funk, with an nice attempt of an organ solo, breaking a bit the mood with the funkiness, a a progressive but confusing break.

Notes on back of the album :

THE MAKING OF BLO.

Here comes 'BLO Phase Two', the follow-up album to 'BLO Chapter One' by the raving rock trio = Berkley, Laolu and Odumosu. Utilizing organ and electric piano for tighter effect, Africa's first trio are into a freshivating polyrhythmic funk that is richly embellished in sophistication - and bound to generate mass appeal. The introductory tune is the musical expression of BLO, written by bassist Mike Odumosu: B for 'funky guitar', L for 'thunder drumming' and O for 'smoothy bass' and the back-up music spells just that. Laolu comes up with 'Its gonna be a good day' where some of the funkiest guitar solos of the album are unleashed. "Native Doctor" is the lengthy masterpiece of mixed tempo by Berkley Jones which plodes on for more than seven minutes. The diversity of BLO music is expressed in full on side two and you sure are into a party time where you can dance yourself out (if you wish). "Do it you'll like it" by Berkley sets in pace, followed by Mike's emotional love song "Don't take her away from me" to the cool and bluesy "Whole lot of shit", then the finale - Laolu's thunderous native yoruba beat called "ATIDE" which means that BLO have arrived, musically of course. Phase Two was recorded in 9 sessions of 12 hours each from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. It was so strenous that on the 9th session Engineer Emma Akpabio decided to go on strike "because of too many worries by BLO" whose drive for perfection remain unmatched. Tony Amadi


not reissued yetBlo : Step Three (NIG,1975)***'

On part 3 the funky elements are often more worked out and improved further Blo’s sound in this new direction, with possibly a Funkadelic influence on "Don’t pull this from under me”. Completely new elements were added : funky trumpet and brass and funky electronic effects on this first track. Some brass and organ take over the guitars, and rhythms & bass are more dominating this time. It is good music, but for Blo it still sounds often much more as if they’re covering a style rather than being creative to their own wishes/talent. But I’m sure fans of the Afrofunk genre will still like this well. Also new are a few tracks with a kind of spoken word to danceable funk on "Rhythm Of Love". A strange track on my received cdr copy is “Strobe Life” with early electronic breakbeat rhythms, which for me it is pretty unsure if this really is Blo. This much more sounds like an early 90s electro track. Can anyone tell me if this is a correct track or not ?


Afro Strut Blo : 12" (NIG,1975/1979/2001)**°

PS. Afrostrut also released (now sold out) a 12” with 2 originals from Blo, with one track from “Phase 2” (1972) and one from “Bulky Backside” (1979) and two remixes, one by Akwaaba People (producers on the Idjut Boys' Discfunction label) and Ray Mang aka Raj Gupta. A fan of Afromusic told me around 2001 I surely should check this 12” before it was sold out, especially for one of both remixes. “Get that groove in” surely is one of the most funky, groovy and danceable tracks Blo made, and the remix for a large part sounds convincing, to suit that purpose for the dancefloor. Still it is a bit too long to make it also a listening track. The second track also suits the same purpose well, but I dn’t think this 12” will satisfy progressive/psychedelic music lovers much, besides the two original tracks were already on Afrostrut’s compilation.

Info : http://www.grooveattack.com/...



















Other albums known : "Higher Plane Breeze" (1977) and "How Do You Feel" (1978)

Shadoks     Question Mark : Be nice to the people -LP- (NI,1974)***°

Also Question Mark fit well with the finds of Witch & Blo, and is another great rock album with psych touches, especially through the additional organ, which has a great dominating psych effect on the music. The vocals are softer and more post-sixties compared to Blo & Witch, which are heavier and more rock. Of course, also here we can find wild fuzz guitar parts. Also here all songs are in English. Lyrically not all songs are equally rewarding, but the music makes it very much up for it, and is rewarding from a psychedelic point of view. A great discovery, worth checking out for late 60s/early 70s psychrock lovers.


Shadoks     Question Mark : Be nice to the people -CD- (NI,1974)****

To celebrate the reissue of Question Mark it is available on CD now too, I will reconsider a new review of the album, which after the LP reissue I had perhaps kept it a bit short. While in the beginning I mostly liked a couple of most effective tracks, the album in fact grew on me, having become more attractive with each listen. At first some of the simplicity in the lyrics can keep the listener a bit cautious as to the album, at the same time it still is part of its total quality. The lyrics are simple but they are very effective in reaching out to the listeners, its honesty is full of affection, love and simple desires mixed with directness in the music full of attractive combinations.

“Have you?”  is a love song asking for that kind of affection after having falling in love with a girl. The organ smoothly carries the mood with it. The song speeds up with tempo until afro-rock fuzz guitars lead the mood further becoming wilder with it. “Be nice to the people” is most effective with its lyrics and was one of my favourite songs from the beginning. It is carried by an attractive rhythm on drums and bass, is about showing its feelings and wish while remaining gentle with it. The rhythm turns to an attractive 3/8 groove before some fuzz solo is added. “Hey Hey Girl” addresses more directly to the girl, in a more simple rocking manner of a song. “Love” is a sad song with the organ also sadly accompanying in the background. It is about disappointment in love. The guitar plays rhythmically. Some vocal harmonies are used in the chorus. Some bass groove breaks certain moments. There are a few off keys in the harmonies but they disturb very little. After some repetition a bit more fuzz is added too. “Oh My Girl” is a more relaxed and romantic song. Here the vocal harmonies are a bit more worked out, almost west coast-like, with a simple organ rhythm in the background. Then a longer organ solo appears during a rhythmic flow and strummed repetition of chords. “Freeking Out” has a rockier approach again with some instrumental groove leads and song parts. Only in the end the fuzz increases its appearance while drums and guitar are getting slightly speeded up. “Scream Out” is another simple song about the need to follow its inner voice. First with a steady rhythm, following simple chords, two fuzz solos in echoing response and harmony appear too. “Mary Ann” returns to the importance and appreciation of the girl in friendship and love, with simple directness. Here the organ improvises a bit on its relaxed rhythm, with a bit more becoming rawer fuzz near the second half of the song.

The reissue comes with an 8-page interview with the lead vocalist and the drummer about their history with 2 more pages about the songs. The interview with Frank Izuora reveals that how they first were called The Questions, a band who even played in front of president Bongo from Gabon. Also revealed is a lot more background about the bands present in the midst of Question Mark’s own historical background. About “Be Nice to the People” both members explained it was their attempt to sound (succesfully) more like Ofege.

Audio : sample 1, sample 2, sample 3, "Love"
Info : http://www.psychedelic-music.com/new.html with audio track on next page
& on http://www.stonesthrow.com/news/2011/09/question-mark-be-nice-to-the-people



TABUKAH 'X'
FUNKEES
Soundway Rec.    V.A. : Nigeria Rock Special (NI,1971-1979)*****

It was a long time clear to me that Nigeria was an important centre as a country to spread music around Africa, from which especially certain styles like highlife (originally as an influence in style coming from Ghana since the 40s) spread rapidly and globally, especially through the importance given to Fela Kuty the time of the sixties especially Rolling Stones had their impact on music in Africa.
In Nigeria, the music quickly flourished after the terrible war, which ended in 1970, and quickly evolved with creative force over highlife to rock, funk, disco and more highlife, before the military coup in 1976  changed the positive views towards the future for much too long.
In the early 70s Ginger Baker (Cream) visited Nigeria to recruit some musicians or band, took some musicians over to the West for a tour, who when they returned lead to the formation of BLO, a specific Nigerian rock sound was born.
When producer Odion Iruoje, who was trained in the UK and worked for EMI Nigeria, had made a big sale for EMI with Fela Kuti despite his previous lack of success, he was given free choice to produce whatever he wanted. Therefore he also promoted and formed the strong sound of the new rock scene. (13 of 15 tracks listed on this compilation were produced by him). He also had a few session musicians which he kept at his disposal like bass player Kenneth Okulolo and guitarist Berkley Jones (who played to the Ofege recordings at his proposition).
The scene knew a somewhat short living, but powerful and very successful (psychedelic) rock period, which according to the liner notes consisted of two different strands. On one hand there was BLO, Mono Mone, Ofo The Black Company and Ofege based in Lagos, and the East bands like The Funkies, The Wings, Tony Grey & His Magnificent Einians, The Hygrades, The Actions (Action 13), The Strangers, The Apostles, One World and The Founders 15, with one exception, The Elcados from the North. When the rock groups on EMI gained their successes, Decca formed on their hand the now popular Afrodisia label, signing Ofo The Black Company, and also Blo for their second album, showing a different and a bit more popularized production sound. Philips on the other hand remained releasing highlife. The rock period didn’t last very long, (-to the disappointment of Berkley Jones, again according to the liner notes-), because the bands moved towards disco and funk, while others moved to Europe and the US.

We’re only lucky that a person like Miles Cleret had set up serious local research to make these Nigerian music compilations so that we finally get a better view of the scenes, and especially with this album, also the psychedelic rock scene, which according to narrow and some common interests never was investigated so thoroughly before. The liner notes despite giving a great introduction also provide backgrounds on each group listed. Ofege is one the most known bands listed. Still interesting to know is that their second album features the keyboardist of Curved Air, Francis Monkman. Colomach were the only band coming originally from Mali, but were discovered by Iruoje when they were playing in Lagos. Perhaps also good to know is that several bands sang in English. 

What I think was so great about the scene, and the music presented, is the perfectly balanced/produced, often rather warm sound, with great multiple rhythms, some hypnotic sounds of organ, always interesting bass, and good (fuzz) electric guitar solos, and sometimes funky guitar effects, or rather unique hypnotic Afro-funky rhythms, making each track listed on this album a must-have heard. Highly recommended !

Also the more Afro-rock styled groups, like for instance The Wings bring themselves into the psychrock territory by moody organ and fuzz guitar solos, with great varied rhythms. Also Ofo The Black Company’s Afrorock’s sound has such improvised elements and electric fuzz guitars solos making them still fit well into the same scene.

I hope also some of the original LP’s will be re-released on CD/LP soon.

Audio : Action 13 : "More Bread to the People";  Mono Mono : "Kenimania"
& on http://www.theomegaorder.com/... & 2 tracks on http://www.soundfixrecords.com/...
& on http://entertainment.circuitcity.com/... & on http://www.soundsoftheuniverse.com/...
Description : http://www.lowlands.be/distribution/pr/16365/
Other reviews : http://www.prefixmag.com/... & http://www.flyglobalmusic.com/...
& http://www.musicemissions.com/artists/albums/index.php?album_id=8422
& http://www.music-news.com/...
& http://treblezine.com/reviews/...
& http://www.waysidemusic.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=05/SOUNDWAY%20011

Other info found :
"If the West had Ofege, Tirogo and Blo, the East had Aktion, a hard rock band based in Warri."

Additional links :

See also : http://radiodiffusion.wordpress.com/category/nigeria/

Some biographies : http://biochem.chem.nagoya-u.ac.jp/~endo/africa.html
A few more artists : http://analogafrica.blogspot.com/
Funk in Nigeria : http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/world/reviews/var_nigeria70.shtml#review




Soundway Rec. V.A. : The World Ends :
Afro Rock and Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria -2CD- (NI,1971-1979)****°

It is only the last few years that lesser known movements from the African music scene are being documented better. Soundway is one of those well informed labels for restoring some parts of that history with a bit more detail and with accuracy. The label did already one compilation on Nigerian afro-rock and psychrock some years ago. With this new, double CD or 2LP compilation they completed the picture even further. And simultaneously some of the albums included were also re-released.

Included in the booklet is a historical setting of the scene. They explained how Nigeria's independence after English occupation developed at first the popular and happy sounding Highlife style. This began to work in favour of certain ethnographic areas, while the afro-'beat' music became another and new expression under the influence of British examples (mentioned are the common Shadows/Beatles domination, and the more straight Animals, Rolling Stones, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Yardbirds influence), from which I guess the early period has not been documented yet. The booklet mentions how at first people had some bad associations with the electric guitar so that the horns were still dominating. But after a while the guitarists became so popular it was even hard to find anyone willing to play the drums. Around '67 the ethnic/economic/religious-based '67 Biafra war was difficult for a further development of anything. At first funk and American influences became more dominant (James Brown, Ottis Redding, Wilson Pickett) while covering the Western examples. Geraldo Pino, the Nigeran James Brown turned the Highlife style more down, turning people up to funk more completely. After the war the army sponsored the new rock style because it was the voice of the people trying to find something new and fresh. It was this creative period, a mixture of psychedelic rock, afro-rock and funk, which got an overview in this compilation. Full background explanations of the bands/singles and LPs were also added.

The label chose amongst singles and LP's those tracks which fitted well, showing overall similarities in expression and how there truly was a psychrock style which incorporated funky and afro-beat rhythms, some small electric guitar fuzz solos, song orientation in a few different languages including English, occasional African responding, psych organ solos and accents, and here and there harmony vocals. Most of the tracks are like that. The last tracks of CD1 are more balladeers, soft rockers with warm lead voices. In that influence, The Lijadu Sisters distinguish themselves well with their soulful vocals. From the second CD the popular sounding professionalism of The Black Mirrors is worth taking out as well. Action 3 / Action shows more dominant organ/guitar solos making them special. The Fela related Ofo The Black Company I already highlighted on the “Nigeria 70” compilation. They showed an extra level of experience which except the usual elements even included some flute. The band had a real ill fate despite their huge talents.

A rather essential compilation, although the psychedelic elements themselves remain on a common sense of inspirations. Very enjoyable and with a documentary full booklet.

Some audio on http://www.piccadillyrecords.com/products/...
Label info : http://soundwayrecords.greedbag.com/buy/the-world-ends-afro-rock-and-psy/
Description on http://www.flyglobalmusic.com/fly/archives/...
Other reviews on http://www.guardian.co.uk/...
& http://stereosubversion.com/reviews/album-reviews/...
& http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/2p8r
& http://phoenicopterus.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/...
& http://www.dustygroove.com/... & http://www.normanrecords.com/vinyl/...
& http://www.brainwashed.com/...
Dutch review with audio/video links : http://world.radio6.nl/2010/07/...


Voodoofunk/AcademyLPS SJOB Movement : A move in the right direction -LP/CD- (NI,1974)****'

The album liner notes have an interesting introduction to the album and group setting, telling how musicians were often extremely exploited and never credited (Fela kuta and James Brown were mentioned, with Fela living a slavery-owner like leadership, with one exception of a recording as a first compromise to the poor boys). It says Nigeria was one of the worst countries for band members making a strong distinction between lead singers and “band boys”. One initiative of some talented backing musicians, being tired of all the exploitations (for them at that time as the Ozziddi boys backing band for singer Okosuns), resulted in the formation of the SJOB Movement band. (SJOB is in fact made up of the initials of the members). In this case they promoted a “band” feeling with no egalitarian structure. The good thing about it is that each member had all the freedom to develop psychedelic instrumentations, with the possibilities of solos which were adapted into a group sound. Mixed with a funky groove and Afro-rhythmic variations this surely worked successfully. Included is not only an organ, but also a Moog synthesizer with strange psychedelic effects and additional keyboard variations, some fuzz guitar and the African percussion. The album is very much a studio album under best conditions, showing a steady concept with a success mixture of groove, song and musical expressiveness, the psych factor. The song foundation remains, as well as the funky edge, enough time is given to instrumental parts too, showing the best of each element, tightly packaged into the strong group sound.

After this album, again according to the liner notes, the band began to embrace several different music genres. Some differences in tastes between the members were finally breaking the entity apart, only to be  regrouped again in 1981, resulting in some after stories explained further in the same liner notes.

Audio : "Stone Funk", "No One Cares", "You only live once"
& on http://www.youtube.com/.. & with description on http://www.npr.org/
& on http://www.juno.co.uk/... & on http://www.ifmusic.co.uk/...
Description on http://www.dustygroove.com/item.php?id=fbg4sqck85
Label : http://voodoofunk.com/ & http://www.academylps.com/


Voodoofunk/AcademyLPSV.A. : Lagos Disco Inferno -LP/CD- (NI,1970s)****'

This is the first time I review a "disco" record. I appreciate every genre that has musicality in its core but I usually associated disco with dancing itself, with a different appreciation, but I kept a distance intellectually so far, the same way I think a farmer should not start being engaged with city politics : the energy is of a too different form and experience to be mingled before the right angle is found. It is not bad to incorporate the groove element from a vision into musicality itself trying to analyse what is happening creatively what can be felt from a distance too, under the form of a review. The Afro-based elements in the Nigerian disco  (if it is disco at all) make it also interesting to be experienced in different ways. Remember how early disco in the west, when it was merely a 7 inch expression, also had some roots in psychedelia, before it was more dominated by pop music and a certain commercial edge of support. For Nigeria disco was introduced into the war zone by Geraldo Pino through Ghana, importing funk as the new element to adapt. The experience of music thus was injected with new life with the formation of many bands that had something of disco in their legs. While trade economy re-established, the bands popped out of the ground like mushrooms. Influenced by western disco played by DJ's the Nigerian bands could only make their own versions of the style. Often there's more Afro-beat than any western disco, far less brass and much more psych with occasional elements from moog or organ, and even rock into its core, under influence of the new psych rock movement after the Biafra war. Of course, the element of funk is never too far away. From the listed tracks only a few tracks have the infantile lyrics about dancing itself like on Tirogo's “Dancing Machine”, what is more dominant is the looking for a creative new form of expression, without borders, so that even this track leans to other genres, through its jazzy solos..

I need to mention the amazing work of research record hunter Damian Iwuagwu has committed into it, when digging for the records, travelling from town to town, crawling from basement to basement. The collection surely is worth the effort. I hope it makes good money so that he will be able to re-release more and write a history from what until now was just 'past'. Although many records were printed at the time, several of them had been melted to make new ones, others were destroyed because the cassette was considered more practical. A fine well compiled collection which should interests psych-lovers too. Bands like Asiko Rock Group and Blo were for instance also included into the mix. And notice : last funky track by Nana Love, a female version of James Brown, is over 14 minutes long ! For everybody there's something in it.

Audio : Doris Ebong : "Boogie Trip", Grotto : "Bad City Girl", Pogo Ltd.: "Don't Put Me Down", Asiko Rock Group : "Everybody Get Down", MFB - "Boredom Pain", Nana Love : "Hang On".
Label with audio : http://www.academylps.com/
Info : http://boingboing.net/2010/03/02/lagos-disco-inferno.html
& http://fusion45.com/lagos-disco-inferno/
& http://thizzfacedisco.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/lagos-disco-inferno/
Other review with audio : http://boomkat.com...
& http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/5755
Other review : http://www.madeloud.com/articles/reviews/..


AcademyLPSMebusas : Vol1 Blood Brothers -LP/CD- (NI,1973)***°'

No less than 11 members were in this band. Bassist Maurice Ekpo, who previously had been part of Fela's Nigeria 70 before it became Africa 70, said in an interview just before this reissue, that 4 or 6-piece bands were much more common in those days. Mebusas was something else. They were formed in and around some hotels that were the centre of the development of some music, or more specific in the Night Cubs of these hotels called the “Caban Bamboo Nite Club” and “The Octopus”.

The album very much showed a cooperative spirit that must have lived there, being a crossroads of many different influences of genres and the different creative ideas of several of the participating members. It gives the impression of having recorded ideas for live performances with some ideas of musician's solos within the tracks already there.

The album starts most convincingly with a psych-rock energy in deep Afro-beat settings, with organ, electric bass and fuzz guitars and drums and additional brass melody arrangement, and some crazed jazz sax solos, with swinging and intertwining rhythmic layers. The lyrics of the strong lead theme song after this sticks very much with you, and through its well sung changes-through-repetition very much finds its effect. It is about a post-war setting where the singer calls everybody their “blood brothers” who should build this world together. It also shows several great distorted fuzz guitar solos, and has subtle orchestrations created in the background. Very direct and soulful and with interesting elements! The next track, “I wanna do it” has more simplistic lyrics, and adapts the 'funk element' in an Afro-way. It sounds more style-inspired, partly a cover of an idea, is less interesting for its simple repeated brass accents ; it shows itself as an effective public-teasing idea for live gigs. This still leaves room for psychedelic monotony with some sax solos, some screams of the singer, and a melodic small brass arrangement. “Return-Pada” has a strange combination of light Caribbean influences in the singing and rhythms. Also this evolves to incorporate strange rock elements and fuzz wah-wah solos and odd screams. “Mr.Buldog” again is an Afro-Funk track comparable to the previous “I wanne do it”, especially as another good live idea but also it is another less creatively surprising track. But once more also here, within a certain more limited musical idea of repetition, more wild psych electric guitars can be heard as well. Even further away from the most creative afro-rock elements is “Grooving out on line”, influenced by Bob Marley, with smooth arrangements by the same band. “Kwashioko” turns the groove one switch higher, with wah-wah guitars and sax and also trumpet solos are grooving amongst other and different, rather funky layers of instruments (organ, guitar, bass, drums). A strange switch again with “Do You Know”, an early 60s styled night bar crooner with contradictory shaky Afro-hand rhythms and a couple of twang rhythm guitars. Also here some nice trumpet solos here and there. “Good Bye Friends” sounds like a continuation of this atmosphere, like an, actually well done, 60s Beatlesque cover with harmony vocals and to a degree crazed arrangements of nervous rhythm guitars, clearly a good night bar setting. As a musical starting point this seems to be the opposite from where the album started, but in the light of the night Hotels it is comprehensible : all of that had lived a real life. ...
Not only the most creative explorations were fully expressed and in the middle of further development, the elements of entertainment, even with British and Caribbean  associations were all possible, something to enjoy.

Audio on http://www.midheaven.com/....
Descriptions on http://www.parisdjs.com/... & http://www.dustygroove.com/...
& http://www.boomkat.com/.. & http://www.phonicarecords.com/...
Info : http://www.discogs.com...
Other reviews : -


Normal Rec.  Tirogo : Float -LP/CD- (NI,1977)***°

Tirogo is one of these Nigerian psych-rock bands from a same level as the other bands which had been reissued before. The songs and song tunes sung in English are somewhat simple, a foundation, one of them is sung in not such a perfect way, the whole musical element completely compensates for this and completes this to an attractive psychedelic rock format. There's use of a little bit of keyboards to fill up the arrangements with another layer, it is the groovy electric guitar solos which are given a time and which are given a trippy freedom which gives this something special in combination with the attractive Afro-inspired rock song rhythms. Just here and there is a funky touch, without ever being dominant.

A decent African rock record within the psychedelic territory.

Audio : "Float", "Devil's Gonna Get You", "Ajufo" & on http://www.honestjons.com/...
& http://www.soundsoftheuniverse.com/...
Introduction : http://stonesthrow.com/store/album/tirogo/float-3
or http://www.psychedelic-music.com/psychedelic1.html
& (with audio) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121437244
Descriptions on http://www.popsike.com/... & http://www.weirdorecords.com/...
No other reviews yet
Hot Casa Rec. Blackman Akeeb Rakeem
aka The Hunters Beat King : Tomorrow -LP- (NI,1974,re.2011)****'

Blackman Akeeb Rakeem has recorded and produced numerous albums over the years, and still seems to be completely involved with music, with a certain message towards religious people today. Back in 1974 he recorded this exceptional album, a mixture of soulful afro-rock with psychedelic and funky edges. It’s song led music with some call and responses, a beautiful complexity in rhythms, some groovy afro-rock and a few times more psychedelic rock styled wah-wah guitars or some funky guitar accents, psychedelic organ parts or just some melodic organ accents or Moog-like additions, especially on the last two tracks, and a few funkier brass accents and grooves. Some songs are in English, from others I can’t figure out the origin of the lyrics. The different layers of interactive rhythms are from a high quality that can only be found on the best working African examples, and this is one. While the singer leads, some voice respond, the rhythmic swing coming from inside is often incredible. Just one or two tracks are calmer and more repetitive, still moody into the song groove. On “White Horse” and the track after this we hear more psychedelic guitar and some strange electronic sounds, unclear from which keyboard instrument this comes from. A qualitative and successful album.

Audio : http://www.junodownload.com/... & on http://www.youtube.com...
& http://www.rushhour.nl/...
Homepage : http://www.myspace.com/blackmanakeebkareem
Label info : http://www.facebook.com/HOT-CASA-Records/...


Sound Way Rec. V.A. (/Remi Kabaka) : Black Goddess -LP/CD- (NI,1977,re.2011)****

Ola Balogun’s movie “Black Goddess” which was shot in Brazil featured Remi Kabaka who was one of the musicians who had played with Steve Winwood and Ginger Baker when they renewed themselves when delving into the roots of Nigerian creative forces. There has been a soundtrack record, which was published in Brazil and in Nigeria. Remi Kabaka led the music on keyboards and some African drums (on the last track). We also had Dele Okonkwo on tenor and soprano sax and percussion, B.D.Wright on keyboards, bass guitar and percussion and John Haastrup (from Mono Mono) on lead guitar and keyboards. The record really had that kind of jammed feeling which some movie scores from the 70s had as if musicians just improvised with some of the images of the movie. It is only because the musicians were so great that in the end these sessions still work fine and even succeed to create something special by having given enough time to develop their approach in their sessions.

Also, I must say that the sound of the electric keyboards is very special. Remi Kabaka gives it the time to develop itself always. On the first track, “Brothers & Sisters” the keyboards follow a more repetitive rhythm, like a melody loop on rhythm, mixed with an organically interwoven complexity of rhythms and guitars, like a groovy to a degree funky afro-rhythmic gigantic clock with its own rhythmic variations. The second track, “The Quest” starts with the sax this time, is equally based upon a rhythm. At some point the full bands plays into an afro-groove, where the keyboards again follow a melody-on-rhythm, the sax adding more improvisation into that area. The track this time falls a bit upon its repetition not knowing where to go to next, so the rhythms fall onto the minimum not playing too much any time this way. “Slave March” is led by keyboards, is slowly improvising without leading to something else, but it’s ok like a short intermezzo.
The title track starts with a slow keyboard improvisation until, on a certain inspired moment, another funky afro-styled theme appears, with sax themes over it, for which the band’s approach works like a successful repeating hypnotic and moody groove. “The Quest (piano solo)” improvises freely and brilliantly on the main theme with its electric piano, dancing around the theme, leaving it and coming back to it with open space and mind and the melody lingering inside the improvisation, showing harpsichord rich echoes of the machine. The last track is with African percussion instruments only. A rewarding session : a keeper.

Video intro : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mgj-6GGtIZg
Audio : http://www.hhv.de/... & http://www.juno.co.uk/...
Label info : http://soundwayrecords.greedbag.com/buy/black-goddess/
& announcement : http://www.parisdjs.com/...
Other reviews : http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/...
& http://www.factmag.com/2011/08/16/remi-kabaka-black-goddess-ost/
Description & audio : http://boomkat.com/...
& http://www.phonicarecords.com/... & http://www.dustygroove.com/...


Academy Rec. The Apostles : Onye Akpa/Oshi Onwo single- (NI,197?,re.2012)****

Funny how now and then even vinyl singles are being reissued. I didn’t want to miss this one. Side A is a funky afro-beat track, lead by singing and mostly rhythm lead arrangements on guitars,drums and organ.  The B-side has more emphasis on the afro-funk lead singing and has more funky organ, while the rest of the band plays rhythm on guitar/drums/percussion. Further on the electric guitar plays lead solos on a still groovy rhythm, followed closely by solos on the organ before the song itself returns and in fact could have grooved even a bit longer (this has been faded out). These two tracks show a strong and directly effective sound.

This is what the label said : "Most Eastern Nigerians of a certain age hold a special place in their hearts for the music of The Apostles, the musical group based in the commercial city of Aba and best known for their string of folksy pop hits from the mid-1970s into the early 80s. More hardcore scenesters, though, may remember the band's more obscure early years as an unruly highlife-and-Congo music bar band, and their transformation into rugged soul outfit to replace departing hometown heroes The Funkees of Aba, who were getting set to relocate to London. Under the leadership of guitarist Walton Arungwa and fronted by singer Chyke Fussion Okoro, the Apostles of Aba (also known as The Apostles Rock Group of Nigeria) were quickly signed as the first pop act on the newly-formed, Aba-based BEN label. The group's first single "Down Down the Valley" b/w "Battery Rock" was a massive smash that financed the rapid expansion of BEN (which would eventually evolve into Clover Records). The Apostles' second BEN single--"Onye Akpa" b/w "Oshi Onwu"--while slightly more obscure was an even more intense funk workout. Having proven their mettle locally, the Apostles were then snapped up by EMI Records and began their reign as pop stalwarts. Their earliest recordings, however, remain a testament to their funky roots."

Audio & info : “onye akpa”   & “oshni onwu
Info : http://www.academyannex.com/...
More about Nigerian Afro-Beat : http://afrobeat-music.blogspot.com...sampler


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