Sunday, May 18, 2014
For the next selection on the highlife turntable, I have selected the track Owa Qeme aka Mulugo by King Akido and His Minijis International of Port Harcourt.
There was no information about the band, but the horn playing and the vocals really stand out for me. The song starts with a shout out to Port Harcourt and I think they are saying something about "our way". Punchy and upbeat, the song has several excellent horn blasts and a great guitar line. Check out the horn section around the 3.30 mark again at the 4.30 mark. The record was released in 1977. The song is classified as a Calabari highlife.
Let me know if anyone out there has any additional information.
I hope you like
Sunday, April 27, 2014
For the next selection on the highlife turntable, I have selected the track Imem, by J.O. Ubah (alias) Rocky Joe "the world drummer" and his Aniocha Crakas International off an Iyanda release.
The Iyanda label was based in Lagos. Their releases ran the gamut from strictly social club recordings to more daring afro-psych recordings like this one. I do not know much about this performer. While percussion instruments were integral to highlife you rarely see LP's driven by the drumming and where the drummer is also the lead vocalist.
This song is an ibo highlife one where the drums and vocals play off the guitar lines to create a sparse, stripped down, minimalist sound with a repetitive melody, punctuated by several excellent drum solos. Check out the drumming solo starting around the 4:20 mark and the playing around the 6 minute mark.
An altogether interesting piece. There was no date on the release, but I would put it somewhere between the early to mid 70's.
I hope you like it
Monday, December 9, 2013
For the next selection on the highlife turntable, I have selected the track Obi Ndidi, by Goddy Ezike and the Black Brothers Band.
John Beadle has some pretty good information on the performer:
Nigerian Godwin Chukuemeka Mbamalu Ezike was born in Umuleri Ameichi, Mbanabor Local Government area of Anambra State. As a child, he performed traditional Igbo Egwu Ekpili music with his father, Humphrey Obiokwu Ezike. A former member of the Stephen Osita Osadebe Band, he first came to prominence in the 1970's when he formed his group Ambassador Omajiji, which later changed its name to the Black Brothers Band.
The words Obi Ndidi translates into heart patience. For me the vocals and the horn playing really stand out against the steady guitar playing. Check out the way the horns just wail at the 5.50 mark. I hope you like it.
For those interested in hearing more of the Black Brothers Band you can purchase a number of reasonably priced CD reissues at this site
Monday, October 21, 2013
For the next selection on the highlife turntable, I have selected the track Who no know, go know, by the P.K. Asare International Band of Ghana.
The cover has seen better days, but the music still shines through. There was no information on the cover about the performers, but I did see that P.K. Asare was listed as the conga player on the T.O. Jazz LP Welcome Ojukwu and on a number of African Brothers releases.
The song has a lot of nice parts, but the horn playing really sets it apart. Check out the horns at the beginning and the wicked blast towards the end at the 5.45 mark. Very fluid and soulful. The rootsy vocals, especially the interplay between the lead vocalist and the chorus, blend really well with the guitars and percussion. Altogether a solid piece.
I hope you like it
Sunday, October 13, 2013
For the next selection on the highlife turntable, I have selected the track Ife Love melum, by Sunday Ogbulie and his busy bees.
According to the liner notes:
Christian Iweka Sunday Ogbulie, popularly known as Sunny Milly Tana, is the son of prince, Emma M.C. Ogbulie of Umuezeonu family of Umueze Atani quarter's of Aiam town. Born in 1958, he joined Chief Commander Stephen Osita Osadebe Nigerian Sound Makers in 1978.
He recorded his first LP, Eze Afo Julu in 1978. This was his 2nd record and was recorded in 1980. Ogbulie saw himself as the 2nd artist, the first being Chief Osadebe, to popularize Ogbara traditional music.
Mr. Ogbulie said " the use of his local language made audiences think more of Ogbaru. My music is mainly traditional. I don't abuse people nor boost my ego because my music is becoming the best. Therefore I am advising my fellow youths in the music scene should regard themselves Talented for no one knows tomorrow. They should be encouraged"
I like the slow pace at the beginning as each instrument is introduced into the melody. The horns then open up and introduce the vocals. The spacey pacing and articulation of the vocals, and the downtempo guitar lines, add a soulfulness to the song that is particularly affecting. I also liked a number of the horn breaks throughout the song, especially during the last 2 minutes of the songs. See what you think
I hope you like it
Friday, August 30, 2013
For the next selection on the Highlife Turntable, I have selected the track Onyema Ife Onye Bunobi by Obiajulum Super Sound Power of Africa off an early 80's Nokwa Studio release.
The word Obiajulu means Contented Heart. Pat Enebeli was the lead singer. He was a Ukwauni performer and recorded many records for major labels like Odec and OjiKutu and a few others on more obscure labels like Nokwa Sound and Ma-Rex records.
The song has all the components of a great Ukwauni song: introspective vocals, a thready horn and a spacey guitar line. This song is a little slower in tempo than the music of earlier Ukwauni pioneers like Rogana Ottah or King Ubulu, but is even more vibrant and expressive. The horn playing is reminiscent of Charles Iwegbue whose trumpet playing in the early 70's was instrumental in creating the modern Ukwauni sound.
From the opening guitar lines the songs floats along as the vocals and horn playing weaves in and out the tune. There are several great stretches. Check out the horn playing that starts at the 7.35 mark and the way the vocals and horn play off each other after that. Just beautiful. There is also some nice guitar work around the 10.45 mark and another sweet horn solo starting at the 12 minute mark. The vocals at the end are also haunting in their simplicity and grace. Check out the way the horns fade out the song. The song really showcases the spirituality Ukwauni artists were striving for.
In a dedication on another release Obiajulu said " This is special advice from the Obiajulu to the people who feel that they are on top, that they should allow the junior ones to grow. Why? Because a tree cannot make a forest."
I hope you like the music.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
For the next selection on the highlife turntable, I have selected the track Ode Ama ne Mma by the Ghanaian band Okukseku off a 1981 RAS release.
Ronnie Graham has an excellent history of the band in his Da Capo Guide to African Music. Formed in Accra in 1969 by Kofi Sammy and Water Proof. Kofi Sammy is the singer and composer. He started his career with the Kakaiku Guitar Band before moving onto to the K. Gyasi and his noble Kings Band. Water Proof was an actor, who started with the E.K. Nyame No. 1 Band. They moved to Kumasi in 1970 and began recording with the Ambassador Studios. The remained popular during the 70's, but economic pressures and limited recording facilities prompted them to move to Lagos. The band recorded 2 LP's, but their rootsy brand of Highlife was more popular in the East so they moved to Onitsha, in 1981, to record with the Rogers All Stars. They continued to play Asante highlife, singing in Twi, but also added songs sung in Pidgen and Ibo to appeal to their Nigerian audience. In 1985 conditions in Ghana improved and they moved back. They have not recorded any new LP's since then, but they remained popular.
The song is laid back and has several excellent guitar and vocal segments. There is also a nice drum solo that starts at the 3.22 mark. All together a solid piece. I hope you like it
There are several CD's available for download on Amazon, including this song. Here is the link