Monday, July 05, 2010

Various Artists: Nigeria Special Volume 2 / Nigeria Afrobeat Special

Richard Elliott reviews two Nigerian music compilations Nigeria Special Volume 2 and Nigeria Afrobeat Special.
Nigerian popular music of the 1970s has played a prominent role in the release program of Soundway, the UK-based label run by vinyl archaeologist Miles Cleret that specializes in “lost and forgotten recordings from the world’s most vibrant musical cultures”. The label’s second longplayer, Afro Baby (2004), charted the evolution of the “Afro-Sound” that soundtracked a country reeling from internal conflict in the form of the recent Nigerian-Biafran War and responding to external cultural stimuli in the shape of James Brown’s affirmation of black identity. Shining a light on the lost and forgotten meant looking beyond the (by then) obvious reference point of Fela Kuti towards lesser known marvels such as the Sahara All Stars, the Don Isaac Ezekiel Combination, and Dr Victor Olaiya. 2007 saw the release of Nigeria Special, a double-CD set featuring more Nigerian musical magic from the first half of the 1970s. Soundway 10 and 11, both from 2008, focused on disco/funk and psychedelic rock respectively. These collections, along with Strut’s Nigeria 70 collections, have helped to place this era of Nigerian popular music squarely in the spotlight.
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