Apr 12, 2012

The Funkees - Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria's Afro Rock Exponents 1973 - 77

Short notice: After one month in Venezuela I am back and will post again ...

‘Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973′ by The Funkees is the latest title on Soundway to mine the rich musical output of 60s and 70s Nigeria. For the five-year period this compilation spans The Funkees output crackled with dance floor fire.

Having featured on three of Soundway’s most popular titles, across the definitive Nigeria Special compilation series, we felt The Funkees output deserved closer inspection. Presented here (on CD, download & double gatefold LP) are 18 slices of funky Afro-rock grooves hand picked by Soundway’s Miles Cleret from a selection of the bands 45s and two long players.

In the early 1970s The Funkees were the number-one east Nigerian band and the only outfit to seriously challenge the popular Lagos based rock combos MonoMono and BLO. Stoking the dancefloor was the young band’s first priority and The Funkees were often playing through the night, seven days a week.

Formed at the tail end of the Nigerian civil war by Harry Mosco Agada (then a guitarist in Celestine Ukwu’s Music Royals) the band played for the army’s 12th Brigade in Aba and went through a rapid series of membership changes in search of the perfect line-up of players.

It wasn’t long before promoters in the UK came calling and The Funkees packed up their instruments and moved to London where they quickly established a fierce reputation on the live circuit.

Here they recorded two seminal albums before finally breaking up in 1977 amidst some controversy. This collection features for the first time all of their Nigerian 45s alongside the best of their UK album material and is accompanied by a full interview with original member Sonny Akpan, who still lives in the capital.

Soundway Records


Nigeria's premier funk music group, The Funkees, were purveyors of contemporary music and a formidable force for hey-day, Lagos-based bands, MonoMono and BLO. Eighteen happy grooves sweating with killer tunes selected by Miles Cleret from their two full-length albums and several 45s. The Funkees were also featured on Soundway's Nigeria Special and Nigeria Rock Special recordings within the last few years. The writhing and raw melodies are produced by some of the finest guitar work and percussion examples to come out of Nigeria in years. The extended instrumental pieces are especially evocative. The pulsating grooves and Nigerian styles are funk-driven, rock-driven, and percussion-laden. Fans of Joni Haastrup, Femi Kuti, Lijadu Sisters, Prince Nico Mbarga, MonoMono, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, Sir Warrior and His Oriental Brothers, and Tirogo will probably already know about The Funkees.

Matthew Forss


Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77 by Nigeria’s The Funkees, is the latest compilation from the prestigious Soundway Records and comes in the name of resurfacing some very vital dance floor thunder in Nigeria’s musical legacy. Lyrically the album touches on many topics and always leaves the audience ready to move in the name of music. James Brown to Fela Kuti and Funkadelic to MonoMono, The Funkee’s recorded the heaviest, dustiest, analog driven afro funk ever. The arrival of a compilation giving a perspective never before on their rich legacy in the 70′s has been long in the making with the groups works finding release on other various artist comps Soundway has put out. The region of Nigeria had been morphing sound into a very special path during the 60′s and 70′s, giving the spiritual language of the land and ancestry full display inside of the heavy rhythms, cosmic funk organ and sweltering bass anthems that make Dancing Time as much of a psychedelic rock compilation as it is a perspective into the afro beat movement. Slick and very tight guitar that is drenched in effects that would fit perfectly on any Funkadelic album, it’s hard to believe this group was able to pull off their own compositions with the same spirit and intensity as the best funk artist from the west. The bands positive aura shines on every song as every musician brings the highest sense of musicality into the collection of singles, album song selections and more. The simplicity in groove is laid out in each piece, but the polyrhythms, tight transitional sections and vast amount of layers make it a highly complex album that pushes into all of the areas of music we really love about this time of music. Inventive would be an understatement when you hear how raw and robust the songs are on Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77.

The Funkees presented the most authentic blend of the raw western funk and a touch of psychedelic flare, something that gives the music a timeless feel that anyone from this generation can really enjoy. By the time you get to the compilations closer, ‘Dance With Me’, you are fully submerged into the late 70′s deep funk that would pave the way for artists like Prince. The heavy James Brown influence comes when you hear certain vocal chants sung in English that push against the massive funk rhythms drive. There is a sizzling dance floor groove that embodies every song and it’s unreal the way it moves me on every listen. Soundway Records gives this band the ultimate treatment with the gatefold high grade vinyl and CD compilation Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77, giving a new historical reference that has been needed for decades. With a mixture of lyrical styles that even the balance out from their native language and English, each song flows with a sense of integrity. The western influence isn’t felt on every piece with some tracks going very deep into the ancestral sound of their heritage and stripping any type of western influence.

The Funkees story is explained in full detail with this release in the span of the five years the compilation Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77 covers. Wild funk guitar solo’s to chants from their ancestry, you get everything that was occurring in Nigeria between 1973-77 from the one of the most popular bands of the time. This is one of the most important Nigerian reissues to exist in the legacy of their acceptance of the western black artists who were touring in their countries and on the raido stations. It’s a reflection of how music changed the world and created bonds nobody could point an exact finger on but everyone knew were causing a shift in public consciousness. Bob Marley, Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Funkadelic, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, these are just a few of the artists who took hold on the world and became a part of the pathways artists in Nigeria and other vital musical hot spots of the world started to walk. The Funkee’s had the musicianship, communal power, style, lyric writing, composition awareness and some of the best instrumentation to pull off the most electrifying afro funk work I have ever heard. Essential listening and something the staff of Sound Colour Vibration can’t put down.

Erik Otis


01. Ole
02. Akpankoro
03. Onye Mmanya
04. Abraka
05. Point Of No Return
06. Akula Owu Onyeara
07. Acid Rock
08. Ogbu Achara
09. Slipping Into Darkness
10. Dancing Time
11. Baby I Need You
12. Break Through New Dub
13. Life
14. Mimbo
15. 303
16. Dancing In The Nude
17. Salem
18. Dance With Me

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for including our words, means a lot!!

    -Erik Otis