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V/A - Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos

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Artist: V/A

Album: Nigeria 70: The Definitive Story of 1970s Funky Lagos

Label: Strut

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

Freshly re-issued, this landmark collection remains a compelling journey into a time and place: Nigeria in the 1970s, when American soul and funk (along with Anglo-American blues-rock and psychedelia) infected the roots of traditional and popular West African musical styles like highlife, juju, fuji, and apala.

Most of this music is powerfully built from the ground up: the poly-metric percussion, and rich vocal styles of the indigenous styles mix with supple electric bass lines to create a solid foundation; the cracks are filled in with wah and fuzz-toned fuzz guitars, fat organs, adventurous jazzy solos, and Stax/Volt-style horn section work. Slinky, twining grooves are welcomed and honored once the house is built, bringing a cool funkiness happily back home.

With the exception of some Fela-influenced Afro-Beat workouts, there is little thats formulaic here; indeed, each track seems to inhabit its own world, mixing influences in its own inspired way. For example, its always a treat to hear a cut by the legendary and just now beginning to get his due internationally Sir Victor Uwaifo, who grafts a guitar style of great abandon, along with thrilling vocals, to a thick percussive root. Other highlights include a dub version of King Sunny Ades spacey juju classic Ja Fun Mi that is as eerie and sultry- strange as a classic Black Ark-era Lee Perry track.

Lagos 70 does a nice job of documenting this wonderfully wide open and inventive era in Nigerian pop, when the blend of hip urban hustle with local traditions and ancient wisdom produced shimmering, mind-altering music for dancing and listening pleasure.

By Kevin Macneil Brown

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