August Bank Holiday, gosh, already? It’ll be Christmas in four months, gutted!
This week we got a massive African LP collection so I’m going to concentrate on writing all about those this week, too bad if you don’t enjoy reading about African LPs but if you do, well, then do keep reading. A lot of the releases procured this week are on the Afrodisia label out of West Africa so I’m going to do a quick write up of the label and all releases are on Afrodisia unless otherwise stated.
The label was launched in 1976 by Decca West Africa in Nigeria. The label released several albums by Fela Kuti, as well as several other artists and bands, e.g. the Oriental Brothers International Band. In 1979 Decca was taken over by PolyGram and “Decca sold its West African rights to Afrodisia, a totally Nigerian company. In the late 1980s Decca (WA)/Afrodisia had a 35 % share in the Nigerian record market of 20 million albums a year.
The Nigerian indigenization decrees of 1972 and 1977 led to the gradual take-over of Decca (WA) Ltd. by Nigerian owners including Chief Moshood Abiola and band-leader-musician Ebenezer Obey. Beginning in 1976 the Decca label and the WAPS series was gradually replaced by the Afrodisia label and the DWAPS series. The last album in the WAPS series was released around 1983. Three new album (LP) labels were also introduced. Soundpoint in the SOP series, Blackspot in the B SPOT series and Deram in the DLPS series.
By 1981 the company was 100% Nigerian owned and changed its name to Afrodisia Ltd. Vinyl albums were released by the Afrodisia company until 1989. In 1983 Ebenezer Obey secured the rights to all his past recordings, using the original Decca and Afrodisia catalogue numbers for re-releases on his new Obey label and OPS catalogue numbers for new releases.
The indigenization of company ownership eventually severed the links to the international market. In combination with the change in format from vinyl to cassettes, new releases with Nigerian music have become increasingly more difficult to come by outside Nigeria since the 1990s than was the case from the 1950s into the 1980s.
**please note: the condition of these LPs ranges from Fair – Very Good**
Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe & His Nigeria Soundmakers International, Onye Ije Anatago, Nigerian original from 1982 on Polydor. Two tracks: Onye Ije Anatago, Ekesia Nama Ana Nobi
Sunny Ade, African Beats In London, Nigerian original from 1977 on Sunny Aalade.
Super 5 International, Volume 1, Nigerian original, date unknown. On the Tabansi label.
Ramblers International, Ramblers International, UK pressing from 1976 on the Decca West African Series label.
Jide Obi, Front Page News, date unknown, Nigerian pressing on Taretone.
The Mandators, Crisis, 1987 original Nigerian pressing on Polygram Records Ltd. Nigeria.
Ikenga Super Stars Of Africa, Ikenga Super Stars Of Africa, 1977 UK pressing on RAS.
Oriental Brothers International, Oriental Brothers International Band, French pressing from 1978 on Decca/Afrodisia.
Sunny Ade And His African Beats, Volume 6, Nigerian original on African Songs Ltd.
King Sunny Ade and The Golden Mercury Of Africa, Let Them Say, Nigerian pressing from 1987 on Atom Park.
William Onyeabor, Anything You Sow, Nigerian original on Wilifilms Records from 1985.
Blo, Blo Is Back/Bulky Backside, original Nigerian pressing from 1979 on Afrodisia.
Celestine Ukwu And His Philosophers National, Ndu Ka Aku, rare original Nigerian pressing from 1974 on Philips.
Next up is a glut of Fela Kuti albums, Kuti is undoubtedly the most well-known African musician of the 70s and with good reason. In the late 60s Fela met Sandra Izasadore, a partisan of the Black Panther Party. The experience would heavily influence his music and political views. His band was renamed Afrika ’70 and the musical themes he began to grapple with went from love to music with a heavy political message. He then formed the Kalakuta Republic, a commune, a recording studio, and a home for the many people connected to the band that he later declared independent from the Nigerian state.
Fela Kuti practically created the Afrobeat sound and was prolific up to his death in 1997. On 3 August 1997, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, already a prominent AIDS activist and former Minister of Health, announced his younger brother’s death a day earlier from Kaposi’s sarcoma brought on by AIDS. More than a million people attended Fela’s funeral at the site of the old Shrine compound. The New Afrika Shrine has opened since Fela’s death in a different section of Lagos under the supervision of his son Femi Kuti.
Fela Kuti and Afrika ’70, Zombie/Mr. Follow Follow, original Nigerian pressing from 1977 on Coconut/Philips. The title track is a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers using the zombie metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian military. The album was a smash hit and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic, during which one thousand soldiers attacked the commune.
Fela and Egypt ’80, Original Suffer Head/Power Show, original Nigerian 1981 pressing on Lagos International Records. In 1979, Fela put himself forward for President in Nigeria’s first elections for more than a decade, but his candidature was refused. At this time, Fela created a new band called Egypt ’80 and continued to record albums and tour.
Fela Kuti And Afrika ’70, Authority Stealing – Instrumental and Vocal, original Nigerian pressing from 1980 on Kalakuta Records. This LP compares petty street crime to the crimes of government officials, asserting that the criminal politicians receive no punishment for their acts, while the street criminals receive lengthy jail sentences. These songs touch on pieces of the major theme in Fela’s work as a political musician. Like his counterparts in other African countries, his music is propelled by his criticisms of social institutions, most specifically his critiques of the Nigerian government itself.
here’s some footage of Fela and Afrika ’70 rehearsing Authority Stealing.
You can follow Fela on Twitter @felakuti…..
As always, you can find a playlist version of all the tracks featured on this week’s blog here.