The most recent in what seems like a bottomless well of great music of all styles from Nigeria is coming your way soon from crate diggers extraordinaire Soundway Records. Prepare yourself for Psychedelic Afro-rock and fuzz funk in 1970s Nigeria
All but two of these psychedelic rock numbers were produced by EMI’s Odion Iruoje, the man who persuaded EMI to sign Fela Kuti and thus a great benefactor of mankind before you even take into account this body of work. Iruoje is also responsible for the fact that these records still sound fantastic, rich and out there in all the right ways. The other Fela thread is Ginger Baker of Cream fame. His trip to play with Fela at the beginning of the seventies led to him hooking up with and touring with a number of musicians who would return to Nigerian and start a student craze for psychedelic rock with an Afro twist.
My favourite track is probably the crazed Hendrixian fuzz of ‘In the Jungle’ a funk rock masterpiece from The Hygrades. Like most of the instrumental tracks on the album the sound is darker than when the vocals kick in with their highlife lift such as on The Wings’ ‘Odenigbo’. ‘Chant to Mother Earth’ is suitable spaced out hippy heaviness with reverb to spare.
Much of the music is from Igbo bands in the east of Nigeria. Just a few years earlier their part of Nigeria had collapsed into starvation with an estimated million deaths following the unsuccessful attempt to create an independent state in the east (Biafra). Out of the ashes of this ruinous time cam a brief flowering of rock music which in turn by the end of the decade had given way to funk and disco – but that is another story and the subject of a different Soundways compilation.
One for fans of Fela who want a different flavour and for rock fans too.
1. Adieu — Ofege
2. More Bread to the People — The Action 13
3. In the Jungle — The Hygrades
4. Odenigbo — The Wings
5. Eniaro — Ofo the Black Company
6. Ku Mi Da Hankan — The Elcados
7. Kenimania — Mono Mono
8. Finger Toe — Tabukah ‘X’
9. Acid Rock — Funkees
10. Cotocun Gba Gounke — Colomach
11. Another Man’s Thing — Joe King Kologbo
12. Freaking Out — Question Mark
13. Igba Alusi — Original Wings
14. Omoba d’Eru Ri — Tunji Oyelana
15. Chant to Mother Earth — BLO