Welcome to the Highlifeturntable. The purpose of this blog is to provide a way for people to listen to rare highlife music from Ghana and Nigeria. I plan to post tracks from my private collection along with a little commentary on what I know about the artist and what I like about the LP.

Monday, October 8, 2018

President Rufus Ayafor - Emele-Ogbo

For the next selection of the highlifeturntable I have selected the track Emele-Ogbo by President Rufus Ayafor off his release Rufus A.

I do not know much about about the perfomer except his is an Ijaw performer from the town of Norgbene in the Baylesa State.  I have always liked his sound and have tried to collect anything I could find by him.

The way his ethereal vocals float along the spacey guitar lines are what stand out for me in the song. Their is a warmth and ease to his singing that I really groove on.  I find myself drawn in and relaxed during the course of the song as his vocals interweaves with the chorus and you just feel like whatever he is saying really speaks to the soul

Please let me know if you know anything more about this performer.

I hope you like the music


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Obiajulum Sound Power of Africa led by Pat Enebeli - Iwe Adimma

For the next selection on the highlifeturntable I have selected the track Iwe Adimma by Obiajulum Sound Power led by Pat Enebeli.

 I have written about Obiajulum before.  He was active in the late 70's through mid 80's. I have seen his name translated to be contented heart or more descriptively by Ikon Afrik as my heart is at peace and joyful.  The liner notes announce on this LP that they are changing their name from Ikwete Super to Obiajulum.

I first heard a track from this Yamson release on the blog hosted by Superfly Records in Paris in 2016 and have been looking for the LP ever since.  It was worth the effort to find it.

Its really hard to describe how good this music is.  The guitar playing and vocals are impeccable from a Ukwauni point of view.   Check out the riffs at the 2 minute mark and around the 4.45 mark.  Just beautiful.  I have also included a link to the link at Superfly.

I hope you like it.



Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ugbo and his philosophers band - Udianorakhara

For the next selection on the highlife turntable I have selected the track Udianorakhara by Ugbo and his philosophers dance band.

I am not a big Edo music fan, but the first great African song I remember listening to when I first started collecting was Iyesogie by the great Edo performer Ugbo.  The cadence of the vocals and the downtempo effect of the music just killed me and showed me there could be a complexity and depth to African music that I never imagined.

 As I moved onto to other forms of highlife I still collected music by Ugbo, but nothing rivaled Iyesogie until I came across this song.  It is a slow ballad.  The pace/cadence of the vocals and the way they play against the stripped down music really give this song its heart and soul.  One can really hear the sense of introspection and lament in the song.  I think it is quite beautiful and reminds me of what attracted me to Edo music in the first place.  I hope you like it


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Gentleman IkeChukwu Izuegbu and his Rhythm Masters of Nigeria - Sali Egwu Ye

For the next selection on the highlife truntable, I have selected the track Sali Egwu Ye by Gentleman Ikechukwu Izuegbu and His Rhythm Masters of Nigeria off the Isabros release River Adolfi Ossissa

The lead singer is an interesting guy.  I first came across him as the lead singer and composer for the band Mmadu Osa.  Called the Spokesman he was said to be the voice of millions.  They did several releases on the Izuson label.  He also did a series of records with the Rhythm brothers under his real name Ike Izuegu.

While there are some Mmadu Osa songs I could not live without, I have found his LP's with the Rhythm Brothers to be a more complete expression of his music and the beauty and simplicity of his vocals.  Chronologically I am not sure if the Rhythm Brothers came before, after or during his time with Mmadu Osa.  But there is an authenticity in the way he sings that is captivating at a spiritual level.

I posted one of the best Mmadu Osa tracks on this blog earlier.  The other good thing about both groups is they published the full text of their lyrics in their native language on the back cover of their LP's.  Immensely useful.

The song showcases his vocals.  Starting out with a little guitar riff, his vocals come in and guide the music through the rest of the song as the percussion and sparkling guitar solos play off the soft cadence of his vocal.  I find it truly beautiful.  Simple yet meaningful.

If anyone wants to take a crack and translating the song into English I'd be glad to send the song.  I am not sure what language it is in but the first sentence is Ewo biko Oke nkem, Ikechukwu bia o ebele m mer bia nwam.

I hope you like the music


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Bob Fred - KeKaji Okwu Me

For the next selection on the highlife turntable I have selected the track Kekaji Okwu Me by Bob Fred off the 1989 Muzivision release Ezi-Oyo Special

I have posted other tracks by Bob Fred.  One of the stalwarts of the Ukwauni highlife scene he played guitar on the seminal Rogana Ottah recording Ukwauni Special released in 1976 and had a long and prolific career as a sideman and leader. 

Laid back but poignant, the song opens with a nice muted horn solo and then the interplay between the drowsy vocals and down tempo guitar lines propel the song forward as it meanders over 8 1/2 minutes.  There are several nice stretches. Listen to the cadence of Bob Fred's voice and the way the horns really accentuate the flow of the song.

What makes this recording interesting to me is the rhythm and warmth of Ukwauni music is still fresh and emotive even 13 years down the line.  Its a tribute to Bob Fred's mastery of the form

I hope you like it

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Lord Adusa - Twamo-Esai

For the next selection on the highlife turntable I have selected the track Twamo-Esai by Lord Adusa Y Ayegbe off a 1977 release Izon Ene Ebi Ede.

I have written about Lord Adusa before.  His 1980's release Mabena Otu is one of my all time favorite records.  What was exciting about this release is that it was done in 1975 and it has some information on the artist.  The liner notes say:

"The well known Ijaw philosopher, Lord Adusa started playing music at the age of 14, when the so called Asiko was existing far back in 1958.  During that period he was to appear in public shows, leading a band called the Young Stars Dance Band "isampuo"  After a long struggle he decided to change to another business for lack of instruments to perform on stage in a high temple."

Fast forward to 1977 and Lord Adusa releases this LP.  He would have been 33 at the time of this release and his music is considered Ijaw highlife, which would have made him a contemporary of such first generation Izon perfomers like King Ebizimor and I.K. Belemu.

The song is basically an interplay between the spacey guitar lines and the plaintiveness of the vocals, which includes a flawless call and response between Lord Adusa and his chorus. It is a short song, but a good early example of the philosophical power of Izon vocals.  This power would be the foundation on to which the Izon Highlife movements would be built in the 80's and 90's.

 I found the lyrical quality of the song haunting. I hope you like it.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

King Robert Ebizimor - Izon Tuo Wuru Ebi Dou Ogbo of Endoro

For the next selection on the highlife turntable, I have selected the track Izon Tuo Wuru Ebi Dou Ogbo of Endoro by King Robert Ebizimor off an IWA release Arekedoumene Part II

I found this synopsis by the music analyst and critic, Ogbonna Amadi:

"In the early 80's, Ebizimor and other gifted stars of Ijaw origin like Professor I.K. Belemu, Master Pereama Freetown and the White Eagle brought back highlife nicknamed Owigiri in a different sytle and from dominating the instrumentation with the vibrant guitars and exciting Rhythms which were missing in the early 60's and 70's.

As a born philosopher, his songs conjured images.  They were like themes which give root to varying development and movement.  The Agaibrir musical king created issues out of themes and provoked the thought of his audience to the point of inspiring and even mobilizing them to action, but the greatest weapon is his voice which he projected with happiness and enthusiasm"

Bestman Doupere Junior had told me roughly the same thing and added that Ebimizor's music was more philosophical and Belemu's music had more of a dancehall approach.  Ebizimor's band were also training ground for other great performers like Bestman Doupere, Anthony Cockson and Barrister Young.  I also found that Ebizimor started out in the Professional Seagulls band.

Personally, I have always been drawn more to I.K. Belemu's music with its infectious rhythms and uptempo vocals, but this track by Ebizimor caught my ear.

I think the rough translation of the title is something like Izon conceals the good and fertile lands of Endoro.  The vocals dominate the song and have a coolness to them that mixes the authenticity of his sound and message with a down tempo guitar and drum beat.  I like the way his voice carries the tune and the call and response he has with the chorus.  Whatever they are singing about you can feel the wisdom and truth of what they are saying.  I have been listening to it a lot lately.  Very meditative.

I hope you like it