Headed by King, who wrote and played saxophone and flute, the band included David Williams on bass, Paul Edoh on congas, James Menin on drums, Arthur Simon on guitar, Mike Falana on trumpet and Humphrey Okoh-Turner on alto sax. Together they fused funk, jazz and afrobeat and added hard-hitting vocal messages including calls for freedom in Africa – album closer Watusi is about the struggle for freedom and democracy in Angola during the 1970s – and references to African history and the Yoruba religion. Shango is the foremost Yoruba deity, god of thunder and storms, and on this album his energy is clearly channelled into the horn lines and devastating grooves found throughout the eight tracks. – Mr Bongo
When it comes to 70′s Nigerian music, there is normally one name synonymous with the movement and that name is Fela Kuti. When diving into any movement there are always the torch runners and those that trailed not far behind with the same type of intensity and quality present. Also in the ranks of the most prolific and talented composers on the Lagos scene of Nigeria is Peter King, a highly skilled multi-instrumentalist who was trained at Berklee College of Music and relocated back to Africa for his sonic adventures into American fusion and Afrobeat. In the 70′s, Peter King would work extensively with producer Sonny Roberts London based imprint Orbitone Records for four album releases between 1975 and 1978. Before Peter King would release his debut album Miliki Sound in ’75, he would take six close music colleagues into the Camden Town Studios London for session work on an LP titled Shango. Shelved until 2002 with the first ever issue printed by the hard working staff at Strut Records, Shango is a lost but not forgotten gem that has remained one of the most impressionable West African 70′s albums I have ever heard. The musicianship displayed is of the highest levels, fusing styles of African American music with the growing foundations of the Afrobeat scene at that time. Over a decade since the album was unearthed with Strut, Shango is getting a second reissue from the imprint Mr Bongo as their fourth ‘Classic African Recordings’ album in the series.
Shango is a politically and spiritually charged album full of the vibrato of artists like James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and Fela Kuti. Powerful funk driven horn lines, circulatory slick afro rhythms, intricate yet subtle guitar patterns, emotionally exploratory solo’s and collaborative vocal chants, Peter King and his band bring an intensity and passionate window into the Nigerian 70′s sound on Shango. On the LP, Peter King provides flute and tenor sax, Humphrey Okoh-Turner is featured on alto sax, David Williams on bass, Arthur Simon on guitar, Mike Falana on trumpet, Paul Edoh on congas and drummer James Menin rounds out the group. There’s no denying King’s influence of American tones in his work but everything is rooted firmly into the Lagos scene. Tracks like “Prisoner of Law” and “Mr Lonely Wolf” have a much more subdued feel and vibe, playing off slow grooves that allow the harmonizing to take its time in climax. “Shango”, “Freedom Dance”, “Now I’m A Man” and “Watusi” are all fast tempo dance burners that show the complexity the group holds in high octane mode. They are full of so much life and energy that the grooves are contagious on contact. There’s no way of not moving to these sounds. The longest track on the album, “Go Go’s Feast” serves as the connecting point between the albums first and second side. The track is set to a mid tempo with very unique drumming attributed to the beginning before the horn lines take a moment to stretch out. My favorite song on the album comes with another mid tempo piece “Mystery Tour”, full of funky afro beats I can’t get out of my head that I never want to leave. The guitar comping is next level, covering a lot more ground than most Afrobeat guitarists. The sax solo’s are mind blowing and the rhythms never ending. A truly hypnotic piece for those who love to groove.
Shango is the type of record made for those who are looking to appreciate the musicianship side of the Nigerian scene and how it flourished with players traveling the world and bringing back their musical ideologies into the main framework of things. Lyrically and musically, it was well ahead of its time and has become one of the most prized releases in all African fusion music. A must own album reprinted with Mr Bongo on every format for your listening preferences. The label has also presented an alternative cover from the one Strut released in 2002, a cover we really enjoy and feel matches the fire and intensity of this record. Mr Bongo has also offered Shango for full stream below, which we feel is a welcomed treat to anyone unsure to how good this album really is. Dive in and order a copy if you enjoy what you hear.
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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
Nigeria has been a hot spot for music greatness in the record industry for years now, ushering in a wave of artists who of course saw an apex in the work of Fela Kuti. BLO was the type of musician who was everywhere and knew everyone and his works are slowly pouring out for all the crate diggers and fans if the Lagos scene to enjoy. This is some funky, polished sounds from the Lagos tradition where politics, socialism and positive vibes are all wrapped into one nice result. This record came out earlier this year from the label Hot Casa Records. Originally released in 1975 exclusively in the major region of Nigeria, the album includes trumpet, organ, guitar, saxophone, drums, percussion and the moog synthesizer. With both western and eastern influences riding together seamlessly, this is one of those type of albums that has fetched a hefty ticket price in years on eBay for those looking to collect anything and everything from the Afro-beat movement. Check out what the label had to say about this unearthed rare gem below.
From Hot Casa Records | http://hotcasarecords.com/
Hot Casa Records is proud to present this holy grail of Afro Funk and rare gem from the 70s Lagos music scene. Reissued for the first time outside Nigeria and available on gatefold vinyl, CD and Digital, including interview and photos of the original band members.
The 3 core BLO band’s members were “B” for Berkely ” Ike ” Jones on guitar, “L” for Laolu ” Akins” Akintobi on drums, and “O” for Mike “Gbenga” Odumosu on bass. BLO was formed just as a trio late 1972 and split up in 1982. They developed their music on tour before they recorded their first album, “Chapter one ” in 1973 on EMI Records. They built something unique, original and different than any other young African group at this time, melting together Rock with its African roots and transmuting it into Soul-Fusion. They left an indelible impression on the Nigerian music scene and became an institution for worldwide music lovers.
From the “Clusters”, to “Afrocollection” alongside with the Lijadus Sisters, they’d been involved in many various acts. They also toured with Ginger Baker, the famous English drummer of both power trio “Cream” and “Salt”, whose influence has been considered by Laolu Akins as “another major player in the development of Blo”.
After their much inspiring worldwide tour with Salt, leading them from Munich Olympic jazz Festival to USA, BLO decided to work on their own concept album with the main ingredients: Afro, Rock and Dance!
Just before their Disco period, we have a real & beautiful definition of AFRO SOUL MUSIC, with this incredible “STEP 3″!
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.
Tummy Touch and Soundway Records present three treasures from Nigeria’s afro-jazz scene of the ’70′s
Nigeria’s presence in the realm of reissue records has risen due in large to labels like Soundway Records. With compilation releases such as “Nigeria Special!“, “Nigeria Disco Funk Special!” and “Nigeria Rock Special!“, the sounds of Nigeria have expanded well beyond the primitive states they were recorded in. These reissues all seem to focus on the very fruitful cross over period in Nigeria’s very interesting ’70′s afro-beat and fusion movement. This has caused the tracks to be laid out for future documentation and reissue work of artists that have graced the compilations mentioned. Fast forward into the present and Soundway Records has joined with Tummy Touch Records for a 3 part release this fall.
All three albums are associated with legendary Nigerian composer Joni Haastrup, two of which are from his most well known project MonoMono. Joni is even featured on the recently covered OST to Black Goddess that Soundway released this fall as well but was not co-released with Tummy Touch. His work goes deep into this movement.
Give The Beggar A Chance was the debut record from MonoMono in 1972. London took in a lot of the creative artists around the world that found themselves in poverty stricken countries and it provided MonoMono the perfect platform for compositional work and rehearsals to get the type of sound they had with all of its connections to the Western world. With the music composed in London and recorded in Lagos, Nigeria, the cross diversion of styles is completely present. Soundway Records has this to say about the origins of the record. “Joni formed MonoMono in 1971 with his friend and bassist Baba Ken Okulolo, guitarist Jimmy Adams and percussionists Candido Obajimi and Friday Jumbo. The band recorded seven original tracks for their debut LP, a drastic departure from the soul covers of the 60’s groups in Nigeria but a logical progression from the jazz-rock fusion saturating the London scene. Joni’s keys on the lush, meandering title track ‘Give the Beggar a Chance’ reminds one of Ray Manzarek (The Doors) while on ‘Kenimania’ he wails like an African counter-point to the Skatalites’ master organist Jackie Mittoo. Written in London and recorded in Lagos, the album was released in 1972.”
The vinyl version of Give Beggar A Chance comes with a special 2 track bonus 12″ that includes the following pieces: ‘Adele’, ‘Wake Up The Dead Onez’ and ‘Layipo’. If you own a record player, these tracks are a must hear! The record boldly interweaves between language barriers just as much as it does sonic barriers. Their roots and culture is preserved while presenting the type of influence Fela Kuti was getting across to the world with the use of English lyrics. Political and social in tone, this is the type of record that exposes as many problems as it provides solutions.
Joni was a very accomplished keyboard player in the 60′s and had retained an ear for Western soul, jazz and other forms of African American expression dominating radio waves in that era. His organ and keyboard tones are a completely defining aspect on all three releases and the musicians around him bring it at the same level. MonoMono was one of Nigeria’s most well known groups and their second LP The Dawn of Awareness brought the band to an even higher status. Soundway Records had this to say about the second album from Joni Haastrup’s MonoMono, “Amid the OPEC oil embargo, Watergate and IRA bombs, the sound of MonoMono’s follow-up record, 1974’s ‘Dawn of Awareness’, took on the bluesrock grooves of Santana and Hugh Masekela but with their own unique Yoruban flavor. A deeply spiritual record, ‘Dawn of Awareness’ was Haastrup’s reaction to what was going on in the world around him. One hears echoes of the Allman Brothers’ ‘Revival’ on MonoMono’s ‘Awareness is What You Need’ and after listening to ‘Plain Fighting’ you could easily imagine the band sharing the stage with the Doobie Brothers at an East Side San Jose street festival.”
If you have only heard the Nigerian musical perspective from the works of Fela Kuti, you really need to check out this group MonoMono. More complex in arrangement, the group contains more color tones in the overall presentation and the biggest difference is how the music breathes with the lack of horns and the change of dynamics more rapidly. You can even hear the work of Eugene Mc Daniels and the soul jazz artists of the 70′s in this music. Joni must of had his ear open at all times, soaking in everything he could from London and the rest of the world. There is always a very heavy african presence in the percussion, bass and vocal areas. The amount of layers on both MonoMono albums is unreal and shows the growing nature of compositional value in the fusion world of afro-beat. MonoMono were the fusion kings of their region and each of these reissues are some of the most important afro-beat albums to emerge back into the world though the digital age.
The story of Joni Hasstrup doesn’t just stop there. A solo record became more of a possibility after having performed in the ranks of Ginger Baker and dedicated so much time to his group MonoMono. So many networks of his along with the hard work ethic he gave propelled him into the top ranks of Nigerian composers and he will never leave that status. The third item Soundway and Tummy Touch have presented together is the first official solo album of Joni’s called Wake Up Your Mind. The album was released from Joni Hasstrup in 1978 and is now offered as a reissue in usual LP, CD and digital formats all of the Soundway Records items are present as. Nothing is short of amazing with the packaging on any Soundway release. Soundway Records gave the following statement for this solo LP. “Growing up in a royal household in Nigeria, Joni Haastrup began his musical journey performing for his brothers band Sneakers and was quickly snapped up as a vocalist for O.J. Ekemode and his Modern Aces’ ‘Super Afro Soul’ LP, one of Afro-beat’s formative LPs. Soon after, Ginger Baker of Cream fame replaced Steve Winwood with Joni on keys for Airforce’s UK concerts in ‘71 and the success of the collaboration led to further shows with Baker as part of the SALT project before he returned to Nigeria to set up MonoMono.
Back in London in 1978, Joni recorded his solo gem ‘Wake Up Your Mind’ for the Afrodesia imprint. Laced with funk basslines, swirling keyboards and screaming guitars, this is Joni’s most ‘western’ record but at the same time unmistakably of the African origin. From the slow-motion disco of ‘Greetings’ to the stone cold groove of ‘Watch Out’ to the Rueben Wilson style funk of ‘Free My People’ Joni was soaking up the sounds of the times and blending them with the music of his roots.”
These three albums are pivotal statements of entrancing and timeless music from Nigeria’s 70′s fusion scene. Everyone was crossing over and coming back in, always relying on the natural beats of their native regions and expanding outward as technology pushed the envelope in ways unimaginable. Fela Kuti was spear heading this movement and creative entities like Joni Haastrup followed right in his foot steps to further expand the possibilities of afro-beat music. Tummy Touch and Soundway Records have gone far and beyond with these releases. This material will forever be preserved because of the talents of these labels, something we can only be so lucky to experience.
- Erik Otis
Soundway has been kind enough to upload the vinyl only track from the Give A Beggar A Chance LP ‘Layipo’. Enjoy!