430

Various Artists: Lagos Chop Up

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
An inspired trawl through the treasure trove that is urban Nigerian social music of the late '60s through mid '80s—a laid-back, all-night, intertribal dance party featuring classic highlife, Afrobeat, juju, and fuji hits of the era in all their four-track, one-take, original glory.

The '70s, give or take, were arguably the Golden Age of indigenous West African dance music: the decade before it forged wholesale fusions with Western pop and became global rather than local in genesis and outlook. Horns, electric guitars, and kit drums had been introduced from the West, and jazz and funk ran through highlife and Afrobeat, but in all other respects the music remained intensely African: sung in native languages, shaped by the region's traditional folk songs and driven by its uniquely rich cross-rhythms, and displaying a purely African sensibility in its lyric subject matter and extended playing times.

The album kick starts with the raw and youthful juju of Sir Shina Peters and Segun Adewale (trading together as Sir Shina Adewale). Adewale would go on to create the high energy yopop style which briefly threatened to dislodge established juju stars Sunny Ade and Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey in the mid '80s, and the cranked-up drive is apparent already. Other young radicals include Kollington Ayinla, whose intense, viscerally thrilling, drum-driven fuji displaced its more staid apala parent in the late '80s.

There are two superb Afrobeat tracks—Nigerian Army Rhythm Band's "Ebawa Se (Party With Us)" and Shina Williams & His African Percussions' fifteen-minute closing medley. The Rhythm Band's lineup includes saxophonist/bassist Ojo Segun Okeji, who had been a member of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti's pre-Africa 70 group Koola Lobitos—the cool, chugging, jazz-meets-highlife groove is pure early Fela. Williams' more codified Afrobeat is propelled by a relentless and greasy organ, guitar, and drums groove, broken up by a raucous trombone solo and Fela-esque call and response vocals.

The rest of the tracks are mostly highlifes, in the style's various guises—the R&B tinge of trumpeter/vocalist Dr Victor Olaiya, the so-called Evil Genius of Highlife; the horns and guitars Eastern region style of Steven Amechi, Oliver De Coque, and Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson; and the more rootsical, percussion-dominated Etuborn Rex Williams and Workers Brigade Band #1.

In a word, it's heaven. As is the companion album Lagos All Routes, featuring more classic cuts from Ebenezer Obey, Sir Victor Uwaifo, Travellers Lodge Atomic, Super Negro Bantous, Haruna Ishola, and other rainforest and savannah spacemen.


Track Listing: Awe Ni Superstars (We Are Superstars); Omelebele; Uwa Idem Mi; Alhaji Sikura Adenni; Softly Softly Catchee Monkey; Ebawa Se (Party With Us); Selense; The Tragedy Story Of Two Friends; Onye Na Eli Nkwu (A Drinker); Owuno Oerina; Kpanlogo; Medley - Ise Aje Male (Any Work Is Hard)/Egbe Kegbe (Bad Company)/Emi Koni Koja Ayemi (I Know My Limits).

Personnel: Sir Shina Adewale; Dr Victor Olaiya; Etuborn Rex Williams; Kollington Ayinla; Ikenga Super Stars Of Africa; Nigerian Army Rhythm Band; Eastern Minstrels; Oliver De Coque; Steven Amechi & His Rhythm Skies; Cardinal Rex Lawson; Workers Brigade Band #1; Shina Williams & His African Percussions.

Title: Lagos Chop Up | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Honest Jons Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Float Upstream CD/LP/Track Review Float Upstream
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 26, 2017
Read Extremophile CD/LP/Track Review Extremophile
by John Sharpe
Published: September 26, 2017
Read The Source CD/LP/Track Review The Source
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 26, 2017
Read Setembro CD/LP/Track Review Setembro
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 26, 2017
Read Aqustico vol 2 CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read "Blue Skylight" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Skylight
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 5, 2017
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 29, 2016
Read "Tales & Tones" CD/LP/Track Review Tales & Tones
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Falling Forward" CD/LP/Track Review Falling Forward
by James Nadal
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "The Bug" CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 26, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.