Afrika Bambaataa, Alan Vega, Bill Laswell, Daniel Ponce, DST, Eric Dolphy, Fab Five Freddy, Fela Kuti, Futura 2000, Ginger Baker, Golden Palominos, Gong, Goo Goo Dolls, Herbie Hancock, Jack Bruce, Jacno, Jimi Hendrix, John Lydon, Last Poets, Lightnin’ Rod, Magma, Manu Dibango, Material, Michael Stipe, Nona Hendryx, Richard Hell, Richard Lloyd, Téléphone, The Clash, Touré Kunda, Whitney Houston, Youssou N’Dour
One of the most recent record label compilations we have been diving into this year is the Strut Records release Change The Beat: The Celluloid Records Story 1979–87. Covering the full range of releases that appeared on the eclectic imprints roster in the 80′s, the foundations of music culture as we see it today is blanketed all over this release. Post-punk, avant-rock, hip hop, world, fusion, pop, electro, noise, funk, jazz, rock, soul and many more genres were all a staple of the labels ongoing approach to unearth the best musicians in the world who had never held genre isolation inside of their compositions. The label was formed in the late 70′s by entrepreneur Jean Karakos, a strong leader in the music community with his BYG spiritual jazz imprint and the record shops he co-rain in France during the 70′s. He was a strong leader in Europe during his time and ushered in a very unique approach to putting out an eclectic arrangement of artists under one roof. It was for the 80′s what Alan Douglas had represented for the 70′s with his Douglas Records imprint. It only made it logical that Karakos would link with Douglas for reissue material on Last Poets and many other favorites from the Douglas catalog with this new imprint.
Music was transitioning at some of its most drastic states in the 80′s and Celluloid was ahead of the curve in bringing together the pieces that would represent some of the greatest music coming out of that decade. Change The Beat: The Celluloid Records Story 1979–87 is the most comprehensive documentation into the enterprise that became Celluloid. We have the hopes that it serves as the launching pad of reissues for the albums that these tracks are sourced from. Once Karaskos moved his project to the heart of New York in the 80′s, he would come into contact with many important people that would help him build the brand and identity of Celluloid into what we see as today. Bill Laswell is an individual on the labels imprint who flourished well within the systems foundations, releasing ground breaking material from units like Massacre, Last Exit and Material. The bridge of hip hop was a staple of the Celluloid sound, especially with the Time Zone’s breakdance classic “Wildstyle,” produced by UK DJ Rusty Egan and featuring Afrika Bambaataa and French MC B Side. As an eight minute track, hip hop’s many elements were brought to an entirely new generation with the help of Karakos at the helm. Around this same time, Karakos and Laswell would work extensively with Herbie Hancock in molding his stand out hit “Rockit”. The royalties of this project between Karakos and Laswell would afford them more creative breathing room to define Celluloid with more hip hop and other eclectic new sounds around the globe.
As a revivalist as much as he was in exploration mode to find everything new, Karakos and Douglas forged an important relationship in the development of reissue material on the label. One of the most interesting projects that Karakos commissioned from the Douglas Records archives was a rare track Last Poets MC Jalal penned with the legendary Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Miles in 1969 while the two parties were recording in London. It’s one of the first recordings of hip hop music ever captured and stands as a digital bonus to Change The Beat: The Celluloid Records Story 1979–87. As the label progressed into the 80′s, Karakos and his team would dive even further into the new foundations of music forming in the decade, pulling extensively into the African realm of western fusion with Manu Dibango, Kassav and Toure Kunda. Karakos was an integral piece to bringing Fela Kuti to wider audiences in the 70′s and had the same affect with the artists on his roster. Karakos would also stay true to his roots in Paris with the presentation of the new wave movement that was occurring. It warms the heart to see so many cultures and pathways accepted at the Celluloid label and this compilation brings that to light with how the tracks are sequenced together. The label has been extinct for some time now but the influence and impression they have left on the world is still being brought to the surface and finds a full circle in Change The Beat: The Celluloid Records Story 1979–87.
The eclectic and forward thinking sounds of the 80′s are on every piece of Change The Beat: The Celluloid Records Story 1979–87. It’s a mind blowing collection with the physical 2CD and 2LP versions containing exclusives interviews from owner Karakos, Bill Laswell, Afrika Bambaataa, John Lydon of Sex Pistols / PiL and tons of never before published photos from the Celluloid archives. Step into a world where musicality and a visionary mind state pushed the new technology of the day far beyond its perceptual limits. Change The Beat: The Celluloid Records Story 1979–87 is a revelatory listen in terms of era and personnel all connected to one label and has given me a completely new understanding on the depth and beauty of the 80′s. The construction of the track listing is beautiful and has me hooked every track. Don’t hesitate to grab a copy..
Order a copy of the 2LP, 2CD or Digital with Bonus Tracks from Strut Records
Volume One in a three part series covering many works from the illustrious Fela Anikulapo Kuti. This mix spans between 1969 and 1975 and focuses on his Africa ’70 band that he is most known for. Volumes Two and Three coming next year! To check out a gallery of all the album covers these songs are sourced from, scroll down below.
“Music is a spiritual thing, you don’t play with music. If you play with music you will die young. You see, because when the higher forces give you the gift of music…musicianship, it must be well used for the gift of humanity.” – Fela Kuti
- Wayo 1969
- Buy Africa 1970
- Why Black Man Dey Suffer 1971
- You No Go Die Unless You Wan Die 1971
- Swegbe and Pako 1971
- Black Man’s Cry 1971
- Lady 1972
- Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am 1972
- Fefe Naa Efe 1973
- Je’nwi Temi (Don’t Gag Me) 1973
- I No Get Eye For Back 1974
- He Miss Road 1974
- Water No Get Enemy 1975
- Noise For Vendor Mouth 1975
- Everything Scatter 1975
- Confusion (Parts 1&2) 1975
- Don’t Meke Garnan Garnan 1975
Soundway Records is officially on a mission in my eyes and this mission is to unearth a collection of releases under one umbrella that speaks a unique language of the world during the shifting cultural revolutions since the 50′s. One stop Soundway Records makes in their expansive reissues series of unearthed treasures every year is West Africa. Fela Kuti was undoubtedly the heading spear of energy in this movement and those around him flourished in the new frontiers and bridges this music brought the region.
Soundway Records has pulled from this rich movement of sound in West Africa yet again with the release of Projection One from the youthful and spiritual grouping of a Ghana based outfit called Edzayawa. With syncopated percussion work, complex time signatures, gritty sounding organ, acoustic and electric guitars, lush composition and a very spiritual atmosphere, this group is one of those bands who was really into something very heavy but didn’t have the right tools to gain further exposure. With Projection One serving as the groups only recorded album and released in Nigeria, this repress to the world serves as one of the most honorable acts that can be done for music this meaningful and powerful.
Soundway Records always blows my mind but this release takes things to a new level when hearing the remastering work and thinking about what they have in store for the world in the coming years. If you are into Fela Kuti or any afro beat for that matter, you will absolutely love Projection One. These guys could really play, there’s no question to that.
From Soundway Records:
This extraordinary, dark, moody and experimental offering from teenage Ghanaian afro rock outfit Edzayawa (Pronounced Ed – Zye – Ow – Ahh) is one of the more obscure and unique releases that Soundway have brought back to life over the past ten years. Arriving in Lagos from Togo in the spring of 1973 the band were taken under the wing of Fela Kuti. After a run of appearances on the bill at his Shrine club they were signed by EMI Nigeria’s visionary in-house producer Odion Iruoje. Over two days in May 1973 they recorded Projection One, which was their one and only release before disbanding two years later.
The majority of their songs were based around a 6/8 rhythm influenced by the music of the Ewe people from the South East of Ghana and Western Togo. With themes that draw heavily on traditional folklore and deep philosophy the album has a heavy feel that sets itself well apart from the much of the lighter happier highlife of the previous decade. Alongside Fela’s first few albums, Blo’s Chapter One and Mono Mono’s Give The Beggar A Chance this was one of the very earliest Afro – Rock LPs released in West Africa and has remained out of print for nearly forty years. Projection One never got a release in the band’s home country of Ghana and apparently sailed way over most peoples heads at the time. Very much like the debut Hedzoleh Soundz album that Soundway re-issued in 2010 (another Ghanaian band that were recorded in Lagos, produced by Iruoje on the recommendation of Fela Kuti) the only copies that made it back to Ghana were the few that the band took back themselves.
Soundway will release Projection One here in it’s full original format on gatefold vinyl as well as on CD for the first time: remastered and accompanied by liner notes that contain the reminiscences of band leader Nana Danso (who subsequently founded and now runs the Accra-based Pan African Orchestra).
Nigeria’s Fela Anikulapo Kuti legacy is one of the most stridently political paths ever walked in the history of music. This world is now given new access into the live vaults of the Fela legacy with the 3 disc release Live In Detroit 1986, a show that almost runs three hours and leaves nothing behind in the pursuit of the message Fela brought from the beginning of his career until the end. In the beginning of his career, Fela wasted no time setting up an independent state of living from the Nigerian government he opposed. It was his Kalakuta Republic that became the epicenter for all political activity after Fela returned from his break through in the States in 1970. The Kalakuta Republic was located at 14 Agege Motor Road, Idi-Oro, Mushin, Lagos, Nigeria and was a communal compound, recording studio and free health clinic. It was here that Fela Kuti, Tony Allen and the healthy number of their supportive cast created the movement that is popularly known as afro-beat.This was a movement that went far outside of the confinements of just being music and became a voice for the voiceless.
With over 40 albums released on the French based imprint Barclay Records, Fela has contributed the most important and timeless collection of African music for the world to understand and live by. His lyrics, messages and ways of living is stil a standard people are striving and reaching for. It was this path that led to the Nigerian government sending in over a 1000 military troops to raid his Kalakuta Republic compound in 1977. His mother would be tossed out of a window in this incident, something that would only charge Fela’s political insistence to fight stronger for the people who could not voice themselves in a public spectrum.
With the cross emergence of Cream’s Ginger Baker into the afro-beat scene and collaborative festival events in popular venues around the world, the 70′s became a time of exponential growth in awareness around the world for Fela and his trusted brothers and sisters in sound. As Fela’s affect on the masses took more control, his government fought even harder to suppress this power Fela was gaining, much like was seen with Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley. With attempts on his life, false imprisonment and every other means of interfering with his mission in life, Fela still fought valiantly to stay clear from these traps and gave the world album after album of the most sublime afro-beat ever created. By the 80′s Fela had changed bands and was still as active as ever. His new band Egypt ’80 was just as eclectic and wild as the Africa ’70 band Fela had built the foundation of his legacy on.
1986 would prove to be a pivotal year for Fela and his Egpyt ’80 as they would take part in the six concert series of the 25th year celebration of Amnesty International’s A Conspiracy of Hope held in various cities around the States. The last event was held June 15, 1986 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey and was a sold out all day event, housing an impressive list of talent that included John Eddie with Max Weinberg, Third World, The Hooters, Peter Paul & Mary, Little Steven with Bob Geldof, Stanley Jordan, Joan Armatrading, Jackson Browne, Rubén Blades with Fela and Carlos Santana, Nona Hendryx, Yoko Ono, Howard Jones, Miles Davis, and Joni Mitchell. Sixteen years after the arrival of Fela onto the international scene and the Egypt ’80 would extend their touring in the States in the fall of 1986. It is this period that is being examined further with the latest live album release on Knitting Factory Records, Live In Detroit 1986. Recorded in pristine quality on November 7, 1989, Fela Kuti and Egypt ’80 turn the Fox Theatre in Detroit inside out. The live recording starts with Fela speaking to the crowd and ultimately getting them ready for the thirty minute work out of ‘Just Like That’. Fela would never perform songs live after they were released on album, so the crowd for this evening was hearing completely new material never heard on record before. The keyboard comes through beautifully with the crowd clapping in perfect rhythm inside the groove that builds right away. Once the band starts to cook, you can hear the crowds response and the overall open feeling inside the concert hall. Only a few minutes into the show and everyone is on their feet and into the rhythms of the afro-beat sound Fela had pioneered.
Fela was a well versed multi-instrumentalist and his keyboard, sax, percussion, trumpet and vocal work separates the music from any other afro-beat ever made. The horn line of the Egypt ’80 is just as towering, just as ferocious and ominous as Fela’s 70′s bands. The vocal tandem among the female and male singers is euphoric, sending chills up my spine as the keyboard runs get heavier and heavier. When the horn section cuts out, the percussion is given special attention along with Fela’s keyboard work. The trumpet solo section is one of my favorite areas on this first song of the set, showing a tone reminiscent of jazz luminaries Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. Saxophone is then given main line and is just as passion filled and exploratory of the political power this band carried with them at all times as any period in his legacy. As Fela pushes through note after note on his sax, you can hear a human pouring out every ounce of his soul. The pain of his people and the determination and strength it would take to get over all this strife is felt in every note. One of the best things about the source of this recording is how much of the crowd you can hear bleed into the stage mics, something really reflective of how much Fela was able to create a community at his performances and not just a spectacle.
The second of four songs to come into the Live In Detroit 1986 set is ‘Confusion Break Bones’ and is as Fela mentions in the recording, “is some deep African sounds”. The guitar, keys, bass and percussive groove that builds is intoxicating, leaving a trance like movement inside of me every time I hear this song. Fusion jazz of the 70′s was building heavily on the afro-beat world Fela was bringing and the calm yet vibrant approach this song gives is reflective of how that influence spread to artists like Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis. This song wouldn’t be released in album form for another four years from the date of this recording and would serve as a crucial vehicle for the live shows during this era of Fela’s career. ‘Confusion Break Bones’ has one of the most intense horn and vocal tandem sections, leading the slow burning groove into a heated and powerful stance. The drum and percussion break down is phenomenal, something that can’t be put into words how personal and unreal it must have been to experience the band bring back the song to a full band crescendo inside of the Fox Theatre that evening. When Fela picks up his sax, the band moves back into a really relaxed state with Fela streaming a thousand feet into flight.
‘Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense’ and ‘Beast of No Nation” close out the remaining hour of the Live In Detroit 1986 concert, showing the same cyclical pull and release euphoria that builds on almost all of Fela’s works. Build ups, break downs and Fela’s unmistakable voice and you are left with something so powerful and dance inducing that you would be a zombie to not move to this live album. Live In Detroit 1986 solidifies the fact that Fela’s 80′s period was just as fruitful, emblazoned, glowing and brightly lit as the Africa ’70 in which most fans of his works have commonly come to identify with. Knitting Factory Records took a professional made recording and made sure all the levels were right to bring the closest picture of the atmosphere and aura you could expect from the Egypt ’80. Live In Detroit 1986, already one of the best of the year for us.
Fela Kuti Live in Detroit 1986
Knitting Factory Records
- Just Like That
- Confusion Break Bones
- Teach Don’t Teach Me No Nonsense
- Beast Of No Nation
Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77 by Nigeria’s The Funkees, is the latest compilation from the prestigious Soundway Records and comes in the name of resurfacing some very vital dance floor thunder in Nigeria’s musical legacy. Lyrically the album touches on many topics and always leaves the audience ready to move in the name of music. James Brown to Fela Kuti and Funkadelic to MonoMono, The Funkee’s recorded the heaviest, dustiest, analog driven afro funk ever. The arrival of a compilation giving a perspective never before on their rich legacy in the 70′s has been long in the making with the groups works finding release on other various artist comps Soundway has put out. The region of Nigeria had been morphing sound into a very special path during the 60′s and 70′s, giving the spiritual language of the land and ancestry full display inside of the heavy rhythms, cosmic funk organ and sweltering bass anthems that make Dancing Time as much of a psychedelic rock compilation as it is a perspective into the afro beat movement. Slick and very tight guitar that is drenched in effects that would fit perfectly on any Funkadelic album, it’s hard to believe this group was able to pull off their own compositions with the same spirit and intensity as the best funk artist from the west. The bands positive aura shines on every song as every musician brings the highest sense of musicality into the collection of singles, album song selections and more. The simplicity in groove is laid out in each piece, but the polyrhythms, tight transitional sections and vast amount of layers make it a highly complex album that pushes into all of the areas of music we really love about this time of music. Inventive would be an understatement when you hear how raw and robust the songs are on Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77.
The Funkees presented the most authentic blend of the raw western funk and a touch of psychedelic flare, something that gives the music a timeless feel that anyone from this generation can really enjoy. By the time you get to the compilations closer, ‘Dance With Me’, you are fully submerged into the late 70′s deep funk that would pave the way for artists like Prince. The heavy James Brown influence comes when you hear certain vocal chants sung in English that push against the massive funk rhythms drive. There is a sizzling dance floor groove that embodies every song and it’s unreal the way it moves me on every listen. Soundway Records gives this band the ultimate treatment with the gatefold high grade vinyl and CD compilation Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77, giving a new historical reference that has been needed for decades. With a mixture of lyrical styles that even the balance out from their native language and English, each song flows with a sense of integrity. The western influence isn’t felt on every piece with some tracks going very deep into the ancestral sound of their heritage and stripping any type of western influence.
The Funkees story is explained in full detail with this release in the span of the five years the compilation Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77 covers. Wild funk guitar solo’s to chants from their ancestry, you get everything that was occurring in Nigeria between 1973-77 from the one of the most popular bands of the time. This is one of the most important Nigerian reissues to exist in the legacy of their acceptance of the western black artists who were touring in their countries and on the raido stations. It’s a reflection of how music changed the world and created bonds nobody could point an exact finger on but everyone knew were causing a shift in public consciousness. Bob Marley, Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Funkadelic, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, these are just a few of the artists who took hold on the world and became a part of the pathways artists in Nigeria and other vital musical hot spots of the world started to walk. The Funkee’s had the musicianship, communal power, style, lyric writing, composition awareness and some of the best instrumentation to pull off the most electrifying afro funk work I have ever heard. Essential listening and something the staff of Sound Colour Vibration can’t put down.
Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77
- Onye Mmanya
- Point Of No Return
- Akula Owu Onyeara
- Acid Rock
- Ogbu Achara
- Slipping Into Darkness
- Dancing Time
- Baby I Need You
- Break Through
- Dancing In The Nude
- Dance With Me
‘Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973′ by The Funkees is the latest title on Soundway to mine the rich musical output of 60s and 70s Nigeria. For the five-year period this compilation spans The Funkees output crackled with dance floor fire.
Having featured on three of Soundway’s most popular titles, across the definitive Nigeria Special compilation series, we felt The Funkees output deserved closer inspection. Presented here (on CD, download & double gatefold LP) are 18 slices of funky Afro-rock grooves hand picked by Soundway’s Miles Cleret from a selection of the bands 45s and two long players.
In the early 1970s The Funkees were the number-one east Nigerian band and the only outfit to seriously challenge the popular Lagos based rock combos MonoMono and BLO. Stoking the dancefloor was the young band’s first priority and The Funkees were often playing through the night, seven days a week.
Formed at the tail end of the Nigerian civil war by Harry Mosco Agada (then a guitarist in Celestine Ukwu’s Music Royals) the band played for the army’s 12th Brigade in Aba and went through a rapid series of membership changes in search of the perfect line-up of players.
It wasn’t long before promoters in the UK came calling and The Funkees packed up their instruments and moved to London where they quickly established a fierce reputation on the live circuit.
Here they recorded two seminal albums before finally breaking up in 1977 amidst some controversy. This collection features for the first time all of their Nigerian 45s alongside the best of their UK album material and is accompanied by a full interview with original member Sonny Akpan, who still lives in the capital.
When it comes to the music of Africa, no other label is opening up the vaults to the 70′s fusion era like Soundway Records. With the release of Ghana Soundz, the world was given a timeless a collection of obscure and rare afro-beat. Including many songs from artists whose LP’s go on Ebay for $1000′s, one of the stand out tracks from the Ghana Soundz compilation has been examined even further with the first reissue of the entire album it came from. This song is the title track of the LP released by Soundway Records from Ghana based recording artists Rob, Make It Fast, Make It Slow and is a beautiful slow grooving and horn heavy jam that has even heavier bass. The guitar is funked out with every line and the English lyrics add that direct nod of influence to the west. Recorded by Rob and his newly acquired army band the Mag-2, this record is spiritual, exotic and pays heavy homage to the sound Fela Kuti was taking around the world. The lyrical format is introspective and socially conscious on all realms, exploring many ideas that had begun to plague the world. Celebration sits alongside the examination of problems that are still affecting this world with a collection of some of the oddest compositions in the afro-beat idiom. Rob was an enigmatic being and when you hear his vocals after just one listen with Make It Fast, Make It Slow, you will be familiar with them forever.
Rob was a seasoned musician in the 70′s, having recorded and toured with many well known bands. His own solo career was somewhat of a mystery though, churning up two albums on the famous Ghanaian label Essiebons Records that were recorded in the 70′s during his long lasting presence in the Ghanian musical communities. Both albums reflect a high state of musicianship with the veracious quality of freedom and joy through rhythms and harmony. Make It Fast, Make It Slow was recorded in 1977 in the coastal city of Takoradi and is the second of the LP’s released. Takordi, along with the city of Sekondi is the capital of the Western Region of Ghana, was a town that Rob found a very vital band to realize the music he had in mind for horns, rhythm, lyrics and more. The discovery of the music that laid out a transfusion of the western ideas of sound comes through loud and clear on this Rob record, with organ sounds as heavy as any funk or jazz record from the time. The first piece ‘Loose Up Yourself’ starts Rob’s recent reissue with Soundway Records Make It Fast, Make It Slow grooving right away, with the band fully intact and getting into the mood of the entire record without looking back. Rob pronounces, “Digital, you got to loose yourself to me!”. As soon as he is done saying this line, a beautiful beat drops and the horns are soon to follow. The background vocal additives push Rob’s vocal texture to a heightened sense as the guitar runs staccato through the exotic groove. Rob has a way of turning his sound completely out and right away the band is laying heavily into letting it loose with Rob under his command. Rob is speaking to the people who would faithfully support the smaller Ghana based bands, as the region didn’t allow for many artists to escape the hardships present and make it to London and other hot spots for nomadic musicians.
The piece that is one of the greatest afro-beat songs I have ever heard and graces this reissue is the track ‘But You’. Laid out in the tradition of Fela Kuti, the organ, guitar and rhythm section keep the song moving, with a slow burning pulse that rides under the subdued sections. Rob has a spiritual way of phrasing his vocals, sliding off the horn lines and backing vocals with so much character and personality. Built under one endless groove, the bass always rides heavy under everything and pronounces itself like a Funkadelic record would. The chorus is a marvelous array of guitar runs, vocal crescendos, drum rolls and a diversion from the normal standards of afro-beat composition, giving the track a pull and release cycle that breaks out of the looped grooves of most prolonged afro-beat tracks. Every song on this record shows a very different approach to the type of sound everyone was doing in the 70′s, with the influence of all the greats still intact. Soundway Records is one of the best labels when it comes to African based rarity record / reissues and the collection of releases that have launched out into the world this year are among the best. Rob’s second full length Make It Fast, Make It Slow with the Mag-2 army band is the first of many reviews to come from us focusing on these new and historically monumental archive releases from Soundway this year. You can’t miss this one.
Make It Fast, Make It Slow
- Loose Up Yourself
- Make It Fast, Make It Slow
- Not The End
- I’ve Got To See You Again, Lord
- He Shall Live In You
- But You
- Back On You
UK’s Soundway Records has been extremely active in 2011 for reissue and rarity releases. With a lot of content covering many continents of the world, each new release becomes a piece to a much larger puzzle than anyone could have imagined the label creating. Recently, the label took listeners to the Caribbean island of Trinidad circa 1976 with the much needed reissue of the extremely rare full length Ifetayo by the Black Truth Rhythm Band. Originally recorded in 1975 and with the band headed by Oluko Imo, Ifetayo is one of the rarest fusion albums from the Caribbean region to carry as much influence with calypso, soul, jazz and funk as it does with the afro-beat rhythms and ideologies of the same time. Steeped in a message of determination, social equality, freedom and a deep respect and love for life, this is a record that is as important for today’s political and social climate as it was when released in the United States in 1976.
Ifetayo by the Black Truth Rhythm Band has been prepared on high grade vinyl, CD and the various digital versions like all of the Soundway releases. The Black Truth Rhythm Band was officially formed in 1971 and it took the band 5 years to release their first and only record, Ifetayo. The album is full of beautifully orchestrated compositions, all that have very distinctive 70′s style organ, smooth and rich bass lines, perfectly placed guitar and flute sheets and group vocals that show how passionate these guys were. About halfway into the self titled track and opener of the song, you are knee deep in the world of Ifetayo. The fact that the Black Truth Rhythm Band retained so much African influence is somewhat of a mystery to the history books of their region and most West Indian bands. Trinidad was known for its cross emergence of native rhythms and harmonies along with carrying out an identity founded by James Brown in the United States.
The Caribbean region wasn’t even known for carrying albums of African descent, let alone housing bands with all of the musical ideas, instruments and clothes to fulfill that label. Out of Trinidad came a true enigma in every sense of what the word means. This enigma is of course the Black Truth Rhythm Band and they were a group of men willing to step out of the norm and fuse ideas untouched along side the honor and celebration of their roots. When I listen to Ifetayo, I feel this indescribable balance, where Africa meets the tropical and angelical region of the Caribbean. This isn’t the first time these regions have connected in history, and in the fusion scene it was only a matter of time before something like Ifetayo was created.
Soundway Records continues to out do themselves and Ifetayo is one of the most intriguing inclusions to their catalog. By the time you get to the second piece ‘You People’, and the albums first sign of english lyrics, you are heavily into the spiritual soul and afro-funk that will exists on the rest of the record. The percussion, organ and low riding bass provide the perfect vehicle for the lead singer to show how much soul Ifetayo is all about. When the organ stretches out and solo’s, you know that this isn’t just guys copying notes, but people who had caught the same bug that was going around the world from the funk and soul pioneers around them. My favorite piece on the album is ‘Umbala’. 8 minutes in length, the mid tempo groove and laid back vocals really solidify this record as vital to a dance floor as it is in your consciousness and way of living. The complex arrangements of melody that exists over the loop like grooves from the rhythm section is marvelous and keeps this record moving forward the entire ride.
If you are looking for something different and want to groove in the process, this record is for you. For fans of the vinyl format, the label has pressed a special 7″ record that accompanies the full length vinyl format. Like most of their special releases and vinyl, this will sale out quickly.
- You People
- Save D Musician
- Imo (Bonus track on the CD & LP versions)
Order the LP or CD HERE
Soundway Records has been releasing some of the purest and worthwhile reissued material around the world. Hands down, Soundways packaging, linear notes, exclusive and rare photos and much more seperates them from almost everyone in the reissue catalogs. Along with a handful of other labels, they are leading the way on unearthing gems that music lovers around the world. One can’t even begin to find the words to thank the men and women involved in finding this rare music. Soundway Records has been making lots of trips to Africa since the label began with the latest round of pictures released this summer and fall. The OST Soundway has released of the 1978 Afro-Brazilian of Black Goddess is among the finest items the organization has ever put out. The film was created by one of Nigeria’s most well known and critically acclaimed directors, Ola Balogun. With a deep root in the music culture of Nigeria, Balogun called upon the services of Remi Kabaka to facilitate compositional work for Black Goddess. The setting for the film that was to be shot in Brazil and his native region of Nigeria, marking it the first of its kind. No film production before this had ever been shot in collaboration with an African country and Brazil.
Knowing the gravity of what the film could become, Remi enlisted the services with some of Nigeria’s top players of the 70′s: Biddy Wright (keyboards, percussion, bass), Dele Okonkwo (saxphone, percussion) and leading force of Mono Mono, Joni Haastrup (guitar, keyboard). The film Black Goddess was a cult following hit when it hit select theaters in both Brazil and Nigeria, eventually winning the International Catholic Film Office prize for best motion picture at the Carthage Film Festival in 1978. The film was also given an honorary and very special screening in the widely acclaimed “New Films, New Director’s” program at the New York Museum of Modern Art, April of 1980
Original Soundtracks for films are one of the strongest elements for tying in the emotional and environmental fabric of a visual story. Remi Kabaka was a very seasoned composer at this time, having worked with Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Ginger Baker and many other western musicians.; his presence in film soundtrack scoring could have only strengthened with these iconic musical connections. His work with many of his contemporaries in Lagos, Nigeria and abound made him a very important bridge of the west and east, much like his contemporary Fela Kuti.. The pulse and heavy rhythms of this culture captured the worlds attention and the film Black Goddess was very important in presenting this vision to Brazil, Nigeria and the lucky people in the film industry who had access to this material.
The contents of the OST for Black Goddessis easily one of the finest experimental afro beat albums ever created. The soundtrack was of course produced by director Ola Balogun in collaboration with composer Remi Kabaka. As mentioned before, the 4 musicians are in there own right, beacons of light in the afro beat scene and can all stand on their own as composers and band leaders. With Remi’s compositions in place, the standard for experimentation was high.
‘Brothers and Sisters’ starts off the soundtrack and it doesn’t take but 10 seconds for the deep head nodding pulse to enter your body. Joni Haastrup lays down some really funky afro beat electric harpsichord with the bass falling right behind him. Dele Okonkwo interjects very brief statements and rides over the cycled rhythm section that never stops. This sounds like Stevie Wonder and Fela Kuti jammed for a session.
What is very unique about this album is the amount or should we say lack of percussion found on the recording. The second piece The Quest has long, beautiful sustained notes from Dele that reflect a very deep and contemplative mood. Once the keyboard and rhythm section fall behind, the piece picks up a lot of pace and becomes another vehicle for pulsating dance floor thunder.
The title track, Black Goddess (from Black Goddess OST) by Soundway
Black Goddess is one of the most beautiful songs on the soundtrack. A very gentle, relaxed mood starts off the piece with slow swells of saxophone that underpin the short the keyboard statements. The piece comes to full life after 2 minutes of this somber mood. Over 10 minutes in length, this song reflects a lot of the work Fela Kuti was completing in the 70′s with the Africa 70, just a lot more stripped down.
The piece that stands out the most to me on this is the slow and blissful groove of ‘Slave March’. Keyboard pronounces the main theme right away and the rhythm that follows is one to write home about. Afro beat music always has these slow burning grooves that crawl inside of you and make you get up and move around. Watching this film with this song is heaven to me. The bass guitar never misses a beat and lays down thick line after line. You can’t get this sound just by picking up an instrument these days. This is a result of the time, culture, gear, concepts and energy present.
Black Goddess is somewhat of an unknown artifact in the world of film. Having so much attention and respect in a small pocket of time, it is a mystery and down right sin it has been shelved away for many years. This reissue of the OST is a promising start to a full restoration on the negative prints of Black Goddess. One can only hope this manifests itself. In the mean time, enjoy this sonic gift of Nigeria’s burgeoning afro beat, funk and fusion scene from some of the best in the region.
By Erik Otis
Black Goddess Original Soundtrack Reissue
Composed by Remi Kabaka Adenihun
- Brothers And Sisters
- The Quest
- Slave March
- Black Goddess
- The Quest (Shadow Of Tomorrow) Piano
- The Warrior
Graphic artist: Biodun Odunsi
Artwork recreated by: Meurig Rees
Published by Afrocult Music