Sunday, February 11, 2018
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
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
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
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
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
For the next selection on the highlifeturntable I have selected the tracks You get money help your brother and Iro Owa off a Sinco release Igbule Nwenne Gi Nu Nye Yowu by Garden City Band led by Prince Amadi
The record is from 1982 and the band was based in Port Harcourt. Port Harcourt was known for its gardens and recreational areas and was sometimes called the Garden City. There appears to have been a thriving music scene and there is mention of an Ambassador hotel that hosted many bands.
The style of music is called Ikwere highlife. The tunes are pretty straightforward but the crisp vocals and the trance sound of the bassline provide a relaxing contrast. Simple, but substantial. I got the record a few days ago and have been listening to it alot.
I decided to post two tracks because I think they go well together and showcase what I find appealing about the music. Check out the way the synthesizers bend the guitar notes on both tracks. Very psychedelic.
I hope you like the music.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
Sir Lucky Ken K and his Sico International Band of Nigeria - Medley (Keme-Don Baikiye Otuo, SeiYeovio barasin, igbasolo okpo)
For the next selection on the highlife turntable I have chosen a medley by Sir Lucky Ken K and his Sico International Band of Nigeria off an Adeoti records release titled: Keme Don Baikiye Otuo
One of the greatest pleasures of collecting is when you discover something unexpected. I almost passed on this record, but decided to buy to try something new. I was not disappointed! The three songs in the Medley (Keme-Don Baikiye Otuo, SeiYeovio barasin, igbasolo okpo) mesh together seamlessly propelled by the pulsating lyrics of Sir Lucky Ken K on a bed of cosmic fuzzy african psych. It is hard to describe all the beautiful parts of the song, but listen to the energetic cadence and flow. In my opinion it is as fluid and free a song as you will ever hear as far Izon highlife goes. A true exposition. No information on the liner notes but style points for the cover design.
I hope you like it.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
For the next selection on the highlife turntable, I have selected the track Late Madam Kofi Feborke of Peretoru by the singer Pereama Freetown off an Egos record release.
Pereama was an Ijaw musician and a contemporary of King Ebizimor's and appears to have had a long career. Most of the music I have been able to find has been from the late 80's to the mid 90's. The liner notes on these LP's revealed nothing. He has a Facebook page, but there have been no postings since late 2014. There were also a few links to a news article dated Nov 2015 that detail the fact he was kidnapped from a wake he was performing at, but no word on what happened after that.
For me the cadence and pacing of the vocals and way the song conveys a sense of lament and introspection about the passing of the late madam Feborke stands out. The tight percussion and fuzzy guitar lines add to the down tempo ambiance. As far as praise songs go it is a laid back tune that is very soothing and soulful. The conventional wisdom has always been that golden age of highlife passed by the 90's, but Izon highlife like this proves there was still quality music being produced.
See what you think.
I hope you like it