A really great collection, well worth seeking out, whether you are a fan of Nigerian music, rock music, or funk.
Nigerian music had a brief renaissance in the first half of the 70s, when the country was temporarily between wars and dictatorships. The scene seems to have exploded with experimentation inspired by sounds from the West, mixed with new interpretations of the perennially popular Highlife. I have no idea if this anthology is a representative sample of the scene, or if the best or most important songs and artists have been collected. But I do know that the anthology is uniformly fascinating and will be a real treat for anyone interested in a deeper exploration of modern West African music. While the collection’s subtitle indicates “Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds and Nigerian Blues,” that will hardly prepare the listener for the musical variety herein.
Collectors and experts might be able to fit most of the tracks here into the long-term development of Highlife, but adventurous listeners will be astounded by the experimentation found in the anthology’s most offbeat tracks. For example, Celestine Ukwu & His Philosophers National, The Don Isaac Ezekiel Combination, and Mono Mono deliver what could be considered dark underground alternatives to Highlife. Tracks by Collins Oke Elaiho & His Odoligie Nobles Dance Band and Leo Fadaka & The Heroes sound like late-period Bob Marley half a decade before schedule. The selection from The Semi Colon illustrates the distant connections between Afro-Cuban and West African sounds, with some rock mixed in. Bola Johnson & His Easy Life Top Beats deliver a strange acid jazz take on authentic regional sounds, and the selection from George Akaeze & His Augmented Hits is heavily inspired by Bo Diddley.
[Click to read more of RootDown FM: Nigeria Special: Various Artists: Music]
The companion discs are really good too:
there are a couple others, but I haven’t (yet) heard them.