Apr 2, 2010

Fred Fisher Atalobhor And His Ogiza Dance Band


The seventies was a vibrant musical period universally and the scene in Nigeria was no exception. Bands sprang up all over the country, free to fuse their traditional music with genres such as soul, funk and pop. In the midst of this creative turmoil, an effervescent style innovator called Fred Fisher – famed trombonist, vocalist, composer, songwriter - hit the world with his talent. Fred is known for high energy dance grooves and catchy melodies.

This fabulous compilation, AFRICAN CARNIVAL, takes the best songs from Fred Fisher's albums: "Say The Truth" (1979), "No Way" (1981), "Wahala Dey For Town" (1988) and Ogiza (1990), and comes with liner notes by Nigerian specialist Samuel Kayode.

Since 1972 Fisher has recorded albums for EMI and AFROSIA creating and defining his so called “ASOLO ROCK” - a blend of afro Funk-Rock with soulful melodies.

With his own band Fred also performed live all over the country. They opened for Fela Kuti, who noticed the talent of Bob Ohiri who later joined Fela’s band, leaving Fred and his band stranded. They had to cancel a 6 month contract in Owere. Lt Apasa stopped paying the rent, took his equipment back and that was the end of the band. Bob Ohori went on to record and perform with Fela. He later left Fela to join King Sunny Ade where he introduced the Afrobeat rhythm to Juju music.

Today Fred Fisher continues to do session work and performs with several bands in Nigeria. He is finally starting to get the recognition he deserves.



"If you want to dance, this is the album that make you dance away all the sorrows in you. And if you want to sit down listening, this is the album that can suit the purpose best. This album is designed to suit all the purposes that exist in every human being. Though it's a saying that you cannot satisfy everybody in this world, everybody cannot be disatisfied out-right because how bad something may be some people will still like it. That's why they say one man's meat is another man's poison."

-Fred Fisher Atalobhor

Bring up Nigerian music and Fela Kuti's name will be the first one thrown out there (and maybe even the last). As good as he is though, it's a shame, because Afrobeat isn't the only thing that the country's got going on. Take Fred Fisher Atalobhor & His Ogiza Dance Band for example (who coincidentally opened for Kuti at one point and who Kuti eventually stole a member from for his own backing band). Fred was a trombonist, composer, and vocalist who was active in the Nigerian music scene starting in the early 70's. Much like Fela pioneered Afrobeat, Fred created a new style of music named Asolo Rock, which blended afro funk rock and soulful melodies, and resulted in music lighter and sunnier than it's more famous counterpart.

The wonderful label Vampisoul, always on the hunt digging up treasure from around the world, has collected the best songs from four of Fred Fisher's albums: Say The Truth (1979), No Way (1981), Wahala Dey For Town (1988) and Ogiza (1990), and put them together on one double disc release titled African Carnival. It's easy to guess that based on the span of years this material covers, the texture and even recording quality vary quite a bit. You'll find music that has a very traditional afrobeatish feel and songs that are clearly products of the 80's with western influence. You'll also find vocals in English as well as what I believe is Yorubu. Unlike the political implications inherent in Kuti's music, Fisher's sound has an almost tropical, let your cares fly away feel to them.

Below are a pair of tracks from the two discs. The first one, Say the Truth, is an older one, and opens the first disc. It's a soulful number that's got a take it slow reggae beat. Ibhagbe comes from the second disc and brings a little more funk with it.


Funky African work from Fred Fisher -- a Nigerian trombonist who crafted his own unique groove at the end of the 70s! Fred both sings and plays trombone -- the latter with a Fred Wesley-like soulfulness -- and his rhythms here are really wide-ranging, and embrace a host of new styles coming into play at the time -- including a fair bit of influences from American soul! Some cuts have a rootsy groove, while others move into tighter dancefloor territory -- never in a commercial style at all, but with traces of boogie and other 80s modes in the mix. Vocals are sometimes in English, which furthers the global appeal of the music -- and the set brings together tracks from 4 different albums by Fisher. Titles include "Say The Truth", "Asa Sa", "Iye Ye Mu Elediamemisise", "No Way", "Let Love Free", "WTFS", "Beautiful Dancer", "Happy Blue Night", "The Beginning Ishan", "Ehimedede", "Babajoo", and "Ebi Lolo". 2CD set features 20 tracks in all. Note: The music on the whole set is great, but there are a few tracks that suffer sound-wise from some distortion in the masters used. Most of the other tracks are fine, though.



1. Say The Truth
2. Asa-Sa
3. Iye-Ye-Mu / Elediamemisise
4. Open The Door
5. Let Love Free
6. W.T.F.S.
7. No Way
8. Beautiful Dancer
9. Happy Blue Night
10. The Beginning/Ishan
11. Ehimedede (Ogiza No. 1)
12. Kisiana
13. Mercenary Go, Mercenary Come
14. Wahala Dey For Town
15. Jolly Boy
16. Baba Jo O
17. Ibhagbe
18. Cry For Peace
19. Ebi-Lolo
20. Thief Man

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