Oct 29, 2012

For Free: Fela Kuti + Ginger Baker Live​!​: Remixed by Teck-Zilla

It's Fela Kuti's birthday (Oct. 15th), which means Felabration, the annual global celebration of the legacy of the pioneer of Afrobeat, activist, maverick and arguably the most famous cultural icon from Africa, is taking plac.

As an accompaniment to Felabration, the global culture platform Society HAE teamed up with Nigerian emcee/beatmaker/producer Teck-Zilla (of hip hop outfit Str8Buttah) to to release Fela Kuti + Ginger Baker: LIVE! Remixed, the second of a series of mixtape collaborations with African artists, the first being the AFRIKA21 Mixtape Vol. 3 produced by Spoek Mathambo.

On the mixtape, which Teck-Zilla says was “Inspired by the urgency and need to share Fela's legacy from a Nigerian's point of view,” he combines snippets of rare interviews with Fela, Ginger Baker and Fela’s musicians with sound bites and remixes of the live recordings from his 1971 LIVE! album, which featured Africa70 and Ginger Baker. Original soundscapes by Teck-zilla are also present on the DocuMixtape’s featured tracks.

Get it HERE or HERE!

Oct 25, 2012

From Spain: Ogun Afrobeat - The Observer

Ogun Afrobeat is the first Afrobeat band in Spain of authentic Yoruba culture. Led by Akin Dimeji Onas from Lagos,Nigeria, one of the best African drummers in Spain, and backed by an powerful horn and rhythm section, the group has an extraordinary on stage sound which puts it at the forefront of Afrobeat bands.

Ogun Afrobeat has a lot to offer to the followers of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and fans of African and African-American music. As part of a burgeoning modern Afrobeat movement that is worldwide, Ogun stands out because of its original usage of traditional native rhythms from the Yoruba culture along with touches of other African musical art forms and its progressive mix of Funk, Disco, and Soul, the true hybrid heart of Afrobeat. A comparitively small group for an Afrobeat group, this eight piece band wields the might of an entire Afrobeat orchestra, and the intensity of its live performances is simply irresistable.

You'll hear the true embrace of James Brown and Fela Kuti licks intertwining and singing to each other, Fuji and High Life rhythms swirl with Funk and Soul beats and harmonies. Original tunes and arrangements of Fela classics overflow with the trademark tenor guitar lines and hearty keyboard chords, synth and organ melodies, the punch of a horn section that dances and sings, and finally rhythmical conversations between the bass, percussion and the drums conducted by the captain of the ship, Akinsola. You can't help but stand in awe as he simultaneously sings the vocals and thunders away at the drums, streering his band's tremendous sound to rush the crowd and carry it into an all out dance frenzy.

The group was conceived in Madrid, and had its premier performance in the African festival of La Noche en Blanco in Lavapies in September 2009. Since then, its gigs have spread all over Madrid and Spain in some of the most important national music festivals and Jazz clubs. Aside from their numerous concerts in such renown clubs in Madrid as Barco, Tempo, Boca de Lobo, Junco, Clamores, and many more, noteworthy performances include Casa Africa's sponsored concert in the prestigious Galileo Galilei, the concerts Ogun Afrobeat played at Moby Dick and Taboo during the Black Madrid festival, as well as the show they played at Junco as a featured group for Femi Kuti's concert in La Riviera for the festival Afrobeat Xplosion in April of 2010. Throughout the summer of 2011, Ogun Afrobeat went on the Caixa sponsored tour "Diversons" whose concerts were peformed at the Etnosur, Desspierta and Imagina Funk Festivals of Jaen, Enclave de Agua in Soria, Slap in Zaragosa, and the conclusion of the tour at Mercat de Musica in Vic, Catalunya. Ogun Afrobeat without a doubt left its giant footprint upon the national music scene. 

 Led by one of the best drummers in Spain, Dimeji Onas Akin, a Nigerian. The energy group Ogun Afrobeat mix traditional African rhythms with jazz and funk.

Since its inception in 2009, Ogun Afrobeat has made a lot of concerts where they get their songs a strength and incredible energy to propose an unforgettable show. They have also released an album "Tribute To Fela" in homage to the father and still the king of Afrobeat music, great Fela Kuti.

The composer and singer Onas Akin, and the other artists in the group come from all over the world, Daniel Child baritone sax, alto saxophonist Paul Hernandez, Lucho Altamira on bass, Isaac Shamam keyboard, Franck Santiuste on trumpet and Louis Tavern to percussion, proposing an amazing show with percussion rhythms, and fusion of different styles as world music, folk music and afrobeat course.

With tradition, talent and magic, Ogun Afrobeat is considered "the first band of Afrobeat in Spain, of authentic Yoruba culture of Nigeria."

Liderado por uno de los mejores bateristas en España, Akin Dimeji Onas, un nigeriano. El energético grupo Ogun Afrobeat mezcla ritmos tradicionales africanos con jazz y funk.

Desde su creación en 2009, Ogun Afrobeat ha hecho una gran cantidad de conciertos dónde sacan de sus canciones una fuerza y una energía increíble para proponer un espectáculo inolvidable. Además, han sacado un disco “Tributo A Fela” en homenaje al padre y todavía hoy el rey del la música Afrobeat, el gran Fela Kuti.

El compositor y cantante Akin Onas, y los otros artistas del grupo provienen de todas partes del mundo; Daniel Niño al saxo barítono, Pablo Hernández al saxo alto, Lucho Altamira al bajo, Isaac Shamam al teclado, Franck Santiuste a la trompeta y Luis Taberna a la percusión, proponen un sorprendente espectáculo con ritmos de percusión, y fusión de diferentes estilos como música del mundo, música tradicional y por supuesto afrobeat.

Con tradición, talento y magia, Ogun Afrobeat está considerado como “la primera banda de Afrobeat en España, de autentica cultura Yoruba de Nigeria”.



01. Mono Economy (05:28)
02. Ewa jo (06:25)
03. Colonial Mentality (08:51)
04. The Observer (06:39)
05. Salitre (05:05)
06. Padi Padi (06:29)
07. Eko lle (05:58)
08. Monday Morning in Lagos (06:03)
09. Fuji (05:28)
10. Fela Liks (04:44)

Check out 


Oct 23, 2012

De Frank Professionals - Psychedelic Man


A1. I Don't Know The World Is One
A2. Think Of The Future
A3. Psychedelic Man
B1. Let's Make The Music
B2. Call Me Frank
B3. Waiting For My Baby
B4. Man No Cry

Oct 22, 2012

The Shaolin Afronauts - Interviews

Adelaide's The Shaolin Afronauts have been going from strength to strength with their 70s inspired Afrobeat. Performing as part of Sessions, a musical showcase presented by the Adelaide Festival Centre next January, alongside artists including Casey Donovan, Fefe, Asa and more, the band are being primed to kick off 2012 on a great note.

chat with the band's musical director, bassist and composer, Ross McHenry to find out about how 2011 has treated the band.

How would you say 2011’s treated The Shaolin Afronauts?

It’s been an amazing year on a number of levels. I can’t believe the album has been received so well.

Flight of the Ancients did extremely well for a debut, much less an Australian album breaking out in the UK as well, so congratulations on that. Were you guys ever expecting it to meet with the critical acclaim that it did?

Definitely not, we obviously believe in what we are doing but we didn’t expect the album to be received as positively as it has. It’s been a very nice surprise!

I’ve seen a few of shows in Adelaide and was just blown away by the creativeness behind each performance. Is it fair to say that your music is just as much about honouring the traditions of Afrobeat artists as it is about twisting up and fusing these music sensibilities with your own? It is a genre, I guess, that we don’t see too much of a following/strong scene for down this way…

Well thankyou for your kind words! Yes that’s true, we do try to honour the musical visionaries who’ve preceded us both sonically and musically but we aren’t trying to be revivalist. You’re right in suggesting that our music draws on many genres for inspiration. Obviously the primary influence is Fela, but when I’m writing I’m just as inspired by David Axelrod, or Madlib or Sun Ra and I think you can hear that in our performances. I think that’s also why the record has been so well received; I mean if you just want to listen to straight afrobeat, you’d listen to Fela and not the Shaolin Afronauts.

In terms of the musical representation for Afrobeat in Adelaide, you’d be right in saying there isn’t much of a scene for it. My generation is lucky as it’s the first who’ve grown up with the Internet from a very young age. The internet brings communities together with a common interest and allows us all equal access to whatever wonderful music is being created worldwide, allowing us to soak up other active music scenes which don’t necessarily exist within our own geographic environment. The other key factor in our sound is hip-hop. Hip hop has revitalised and re-introduced a generation of new listeners to the sounds of jazz, soul, afrobeat, Latin and a myriad of other styles of music. I think hip-hop has given my generation a framework to understand the connections, both historically and musically, between styles of music. So even though Adelaide does not have a strong Afrobeat scene, more people are open to this style of music because of it’s connection to other genre’s which are better represented here.

I read that you’re off to LA at the end of the year to do some work with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Can you tell me a bit about how this opportunity came about?

I first became aware of what Miguel Atwood-Ferguson was doing about 18 months ago whilst I was a participant at the Red Bull Music Academy in London. Flying Lotus told me to check out him out and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. He’s changed the way I think about large ensemble music and has partially inspired the large ensemble performance of the Shaolin Afronauts next year. I hit him up online about the prospect of a mentorship and luckily enough for me he was into it. SA artists are lucky enough to have access to some of the best art’s funding opportunities in the world and if it weren’t for CARCLEW youth arts, this project wouldn’t have happened. My advice to all young artists is to check out the funding opportunities that exist through Carclew as well as other arts funding bodies and get involved! They really can help you to make your dreams a reality.

This concept of an 18-piece Afrobeat ensemble is something amazing to be visualised and imagined – how does one come up with this idea and figure out how to put it together?

I force myself to make things happen, I booked the gig, booked the musicians, and booked the studio time before I had written anything. I need to make myself do things that are bigger and better than what I’ve done previously. I figure out how to do it once I’ve forced myself commit to a project. It can be stressful but it’s the best way to make sure I keep progressing as an artist. I also have absolute faith in the brilliant musicians I have the pleasure of working with, I know they can help me realise any musical concept I come up with.

I guess, for an Adelaide band, The Shaolin Afronauts are boundary-pushers in terms of traversing musical genres and tapping into some really interesting and different sounds. What first caught your interest in this sort of music?

I was lucky enough to be exposed to a lot of different style of music as a child. Festivals like Womadelaide are major events for my entire family and I attribute my love of a lot of different genres to early experiences like that. I believe that we don’t choose the music we love, rather that it chooses us. I’ve loved this type of music my whole life, I can’t explain why, I’m just drawn to it.

I know that the local scene here is small in the sense that everybody is bound to know somebody else. What was it like finding people with the similar interest in getting into this sort of music to perform/write with?

As you may know the core of the band was formed with members of The Transatlantics. We are all into a lot of the same stuff and we’ve been playing together for a long time now. Honestly, it’s the greatest pleasure of my life playing music with these wonderful people. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

How much fun is it to actually get stuck into the music when you’re performing live, as opposed to recording? There’s such a multi-layered aspect to it that I would imagine would be somewhat intoxicating to get into live.

I love both recording and playing live equally. They are both magical in completely different ways. The live performances are extended and certainly have an intoxicating affect on both the mind and body. It’s an amazing place to be, onstage surrounded by brilliant musicians playing music, Sun Ra once called it a joyful noise, I like that.

So, when the band takes part in Sessions at the end of January next year, the main plan is to bring back the final product of your work in the US back to a local audience?

Well it’s hard to say what the product of the US jaunt will be, I can’t really say for sure until I’ve done it, it could have nothing to do with this project, it could be a part of every composition. That’s definitely the plan at this stage though. It’ll be great to have a true compositional master cast his eye over my work, intimidating in many ways, but exciting!

I have also read that hopefully the sounds to be performed during this gig in January will be transferred onto the band’s second album. Is there going to be a definite move towards a bigger range of soundscapes on the next record that you’re imagining, or a similar form of evolution/expansion?
Yes definitely, it will still be rooted in afrobeat but there will be a much larger emphasis on more elaborate sounds and compositions. It won’t be a move away from the sound of the first record but it’ll be a definite evolution! I can’t give too much away though, you’ll have to come and see the show for yourself.


With the impending release of their debut album, the Shaolin Afronauts sat down with Kryztoff to talk about music, WOMAD and of course their new album.

How did you settle on the genre avant-garde jazz/ Afrobeats?

I don’t think we really choose the music we love, I think it kind of chooses us…I don’t know why I wanted to play Afrobeat, I love it so much I felt compelled to compose and perform it I guess and the Jazz influence is something central to my own musical identity….does that answer the question…I don’t know.

Twelve seems like a lot of people to be on stage at once, is it difficult to co-ordinate?

Logistically it is difficult. Organising a 12 piece band can be very hard especially when it comes to touring. Onstage however, it’s very easy, when you are blessed which such a high caliber of musicianship, playing is the simple part!

Are there any nicknames within the band?

Not really, only for Locky who’s nickname is Country Ridge, cause he plays heaps of country licks.

How did you all meet?

The core of the Shaolin Afronauts is basically the same as The Transatlantics, it’s kind of a community of musicians involved across a whole lot of different musical acts. We met while studying music at university and formed The Transatlantics whilst studying, everything else came after that.

What’s your most interesting band moment?

When we played WOMAD we were on pretty early and about 30 mins before we played I walked onstage to check some equipment and there were about 25 people there. I thought to myself, Ross don’t be disappointed if there aren’t heaps of people you’re playing at Womad, that’s enough to be happy about. Then when we stepped out onstage 30 mins later there were 4000 people screaming…most interesting, most unexpected and one of the best band moments I reckon!

Are you coming back to WOMAdelaide?

If WOMADelaide will have us back!! I’d definitely love to play again.

What do you love about WOMAD?

Everything, Womad is one of the most important cultural events in Australia. The environment, the music, everything it’s an incredible event.

What about your sound inspired the ‘shaolin’ in your band title?

I guess we’re inspired by a lot of music from the late 60’s and 70’s which kind of channels that mystical interplanetary vibe, I think the cloaked imagery kind of channels that as well. As well as that, 36th chambers was a life changing album for me, I guess it’s a bit of a nod to that too. But it’s just a name, it’s the music that really means something.

Whats the best track on your new album?

My favourite track is The Scarab, which is the last track on the album. I think it represents a deeper, more reflective side of our music.

It seems like somewhat of a niche genre, how are you being recieved?

Really well so far, both the CD and LP are selling really well which I guess is surprising. Sales are mostly centered in Europe, but it’s been well received here too.

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

For this group, the ability to teleport to places, at least then touring would be easier!

Between you all, how many different types of instruments can you play?

Well Adam Page can play about ten instruments including fruit and vegetables so I’m going to take a guess and say about 30.

Describe your dream audience

I’d like to play alongside Fela Kuti in Nigeria or Ghana circa 1973, failing that my dream audience is anyone who’s into our music!

What’s the future for the Shaolin Afronauts?

We are currently planning our next record which will be for an expanded ensemble of 19 and we will be performing live with this ensemble early next year.

Where do you rehearse?

Anywhere we can

If you could change anything about WOMAD or concerts in general what would it be?

I wouldn’t change a thing about Womad, but it be nice if all audiences were as receptive as a Womad audience!!!


Oct 19, 2012

From Australia: The Shaolin Afronauts - Quest Under Capricorn


Carrying on from the success of their debut album, The Shaolin Afronauts once again charter their rather unique path with this cracking follow up entitled "Quest Under Capricorn." Think 1970's West Africa, Ethiopia and the pioneering and progressive avant-garde jazz artists of that same period.

Opening track "Brooklyn" sees the band in a sprightly setting with a rock steady bass groove, signature big horns and the growliest baritone ever committed to record, engrossing stuff right from the off! Afrobeat deep jazz is next with "Gayanamede Prelude," highlighting the beautiful production and arranging skills of main man Ross McHenry. Some rather choice improvising soprano sax from his jazziness Andrew Crago, over some dense arrangements which can include anything up to a nine piece horn section!!

"Winds Of Gayanamede" is up next, jacking up the highly emotional intensity of this compelling album. There's a real downtempo feel to the first part of the album and it will no doubt draw you in to their secret arcane world, especially track 5, the killer title track "Quest Under Capricorn." Yes it's 'Enter The Dragon Time' with this moody modal piece of mellifluous and majesterial magic! This is jazz music all filtered through a free jazz approach that is quite stunning - a landmark session. One of those recordings seeping through with so much power and an emotional, deep connection is felt emphatically too. This outfit ascend right here, right now on a higher plane of existence. The combustible influences that shape this album are still relevant today and SA do it with such class and panache.


Afro Jazz hasn’t reached the level of popularity that it deserves to be at, yet its style has more years behind it than smooth jazz. The sound of African jazz and retro 70s soul are the inspiration behind “Shaolin Afronauts”, an amazing Australian band founded in 2009. Their new CD, “Quest Under Capricorn”, released July 16th on the Freestyle Records label, is good soul seasoned with just the right touch of musical spices and influences. Now, please bear in mind that no matter what else I say about a specific track from this point on, this phrase still applies: “It has lots of soul and 70s flavor.”

John Shaft (shut your mouth!!) could’ve shown his very cool swagger to the intro record “Brooklyn” which exudes funk, and I do mean the good kind. “Brooklyn” starts like the beginning of an action movie, and its overlapping horns and harmonies blend tightly with the band. The middle section features a blistering baritone sax solo. Just before track 3, there’s a riveting prelude with wind blowing sound effects, an echo pedal electric piano, and horns playing softly with classic Gil Evans style jazz harmony.

The track “Los Angeles” is a serious piece of music, beginning with flute and electric keys to set up the horn section and band. Kevin Van Der Zwaag pushes a strong funk beat on the drums, while the soprano sax attacks the solo with lines reminiscent of 70’s horn man Bennie Maupin of the Headhunters. The arrangement builds in intensity as the horns break into an all-out brawl of notes, and then break back down to the reflective tones of the solo electric fender Rhodes piano. The title track, “Quest Under Capricorn” really shows the band’s range with nice unison flutes and low brass answering back.

The Shaolin Afronauts are more than just a band with a cool name. They are exceptional players with a dynamic style who are creating great music that is just too hard to find, unless you go to a vintage record store. They blend well, the cuts are never sloppy, and the mix sounds great on my stereo and even better with headphones. Jazz aficionados and music lovers of all genres who are seeking soul with an order of something special on the side will find “Quest Under Capricorn” to be the crème de la crème. Don’t walk, run and pick up your copy today. You’ll thank me later.



Originally conceived as a side project for members of Adelaide soul outfit the Transatlantics, as an outlet to sate a developing appetite for various African and jazz styles, Shaolin Afronauts have rapidly developed into one of the country's most sophisticated young big bands.
If their debut album of first takes, Flight of the Ancients, constituted a promising if somewhat raw entree to their recording career, Quest Under Capricorn sees them sink their collective teeth into something altogether more substantial and satisfying.

Expanding to an 18-piece line-up that contains no fewer than 10 horns could easily have proven a case of biting off more than they could chew. Fortunately, the acumen of the band's musical director, bass player, producer and primary composer, Ross McHenry, and the influence of an American mentor, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, who has worked with leviathans such as Wayne Shorter, Brad Mehldau and Quincy Jones, have ensured that the sophomore album is expertly arranged, even if the intros and outros might have been more variable.

There's certainly no lack of imagination, brilliance of chops or abatement in intensity. Indeed, the wild free-form inhibition displayed in sections of Saturn's Dance and End of a Sun references the anarchy and experimentation of vintage Sun Ra recordings.

In the latter, the Afronauts' trombones, trumpets and saxophones buzz like angry hornets.
Elsewhere, the brass billows over solid Afro rhythms. Winds Across Gayanamede and Amhara evince Ethio-jazz and that genre's champion, Mulatu Astatke, while exhibiting Kuti-esque afrobeat foundations. Los Angeles, on the other hand, hits a groove more reminiscent of US keyboard king Herbie Hancock's 70s workouts with the Headhunters.


Shaolin Afronauts - Winds across Gayanamede from Ross McHenry on Vimeo.

The most talented, interesting and challenging of all Adelaide musicians is the collective that feeds the bands The Transatlantics, The Atlantic Street Band, Max Savage and the False Idols (plus many more groups popping up almost every other month). This talent, intrigue and experimentation are deftly represented on Quest Under Capricorn, the second album from The Shaolin Afronauts (to date the highlight group of the collective). Originally an Afro-beat ensemble infamous for their energetic and mystical live shows, which would see up to 13 members don cloaks on a small stage to bust out Afro jazz seemingly direct from 70s Nigeria, the second album finds the Afronauts evolving. They are no longer limited to the Afro genre. 

Bandleader Ross McHenry travelled to Los Angeles under the tutelage of composer Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. The compositions from that pilgrimage base this album, which resulted in a live show at the Festival Centre with 18 players, followed by a quick recording session. The result is a mature, eclectic set of Afro influenced jazz rhythms, which can only be described as raw jazz. This spirited, rough edge drives beasts such as the schizophrenic End of a Sun, which sounds like a jazz apocalypse one moment before being rescued by a beautiful gathering of horns riding an angelic groove the next. While the magnificent Amhara switches from Afro lounge to a Middle Eastern groove with ease. Quest Under Capricorn is a major step forward for the Afronauts and with more albums coming from many of the collective’s other bands this year, 2012 should be the year that one of Adelaide’s finest gathering of artists will be celebrated across the land and hopefully the globe.


The Shaolin Afronauts are a jazz/afrobeat collective based in Adelaide, Australia. Quest Under Capricorn, recorded in January this year with an expanded 18-piece band, is the follow up to last year’s debut album Flight of the Ancients, an infectious record that stuck so rigidly to its afrobeat template you could easily mistake it for Fela Kuti on first listen. For the uninitiated, Fela Kuti played a kind of music that he named “Afrobeat”, a combination of American jazz and funk blended with West African highlife music, traditional Yoruba music and chanted vocals.

On first listen Quest Under Capricorn feels like a continuation of their first album. Winds Across Gayanamede opens with a funky guitar riff, before breaking into a classic Afrobeat sounding groove where free-flowing horns are accompanied by some quite brilliant drumming. However there is evidence that the Afronauts are expanding their sound into new directions. There are some distinctly Avant-garde jazz moments – witness the wild horn section wig-outs on End of a Sun and Saturn’s Dance. While album highlight Quest Under Capricorn would not sound out of place on a Ennio Morricone film score, its moody horns lending it a bristling intensity. Certainly this record seems more serious than their first, with a greater emphasis on song structure and variation, but you feel that some of the carefree fun of their more groove-based debut has been lost too.

It has been said that there are no original ideas in art. Listening to this album may provoke the question; Is it possible to recreate a sound from the past whist still making music that sounds fresh and vital? The Cinematic Orchestra cleverly achieved this on Everyday by fusing their live jazz improvisation with turntable trickery, electronica, and the emotive vocals of Fontella Bass and Roots Manuva. The Afronauts seem less willing to experiment in this way and you can’t help but feel they are being somewhat straightjacketed by their musical influences. Amhara is a case in point. It’s a brilliantly realised piece of Ethio-jazz, no doubt inspired by the work of Mulatu Astatke, but it somehow leaves you cold because it sounds so much like its source material.

The Shaolin Afronauts are clearly a very talented bunch of musicians, and Quest Under Capricorn is a sophisticatedalbum that builds on the promise of its predecessor, but it fails to stir your emotions. Fela Kuti’s powerful, often politically motivated vocals were an integral part of his music that gave his work an emotional intensity that The Afronauts cannot match. Ultimately, Quest Under Capricorn is an easy album to like, but a hard one to love.

Oct 18, 2012

Pazy and the Black Hippies

While Reggae music had its prominence in 70s Nigeria, it was highlife and Fela Kuti's afrobeat that gave the country its own musical national identity. Originally from Southern Nigeria’s Benin City, Edire “Pazy” Etinagbedia and his band The Black Hippies released their second LP, Wa Ho Ha on EMI Nigeria in 1978 building on a body of work that effectively glides between these styles creating an incredibly unique record that has become a cult classic. Wa Ho Ha features Pazy and his Black Hippies engaged in call and response vocal anthems all backed by incredibly deep rock steady grooves and afrobeat rhythms filled with funky horns and psychedelic guitar accents. Recorded in the legendary EMI Nigeria studios, Wa Ho Ha typifies the 70s Nigerian sound enthusiasts the world over have come to know and love, but puts an inimitable twist on it.

This rare gem has been lovingly remastered and the original art work painstakingly restored. Used copies seldom appear on the market, and when they do, it’s usually in small private circles and you could put yourself through a semester or two of community college for what it costs to obtain a beat-up copy. Available on CD and vinyl, Secret Stash is proud to partner with Comb & Razor to present the first ever reissue of this funky rarity. As always, the LP version includes a free digital download of the entire album and the CD version comes in a premium digipak.



Some information by amazing Comb & Razor:

As I have stated a few times before, I have something of a love-hate relationship with Nigerian reggae. I mean, I've actually warmed up to it considerably over the past year or so (mostly for scholarly reasons) but as I have precious little space in my personal collection (and even preciouser little money to spend on vinyl in this wintry economic climate), when I'm shopping I usually veto the Naija natty riddims right off the bat.

Thankfully, they're usually easy to identify too, since 1980s album designers took to stenciling jagged lettering and red-gold-green hues on every goddamn sleeve. Or my other rule of thumb is: "When in doubt, just avoid any LP that depicting persons with dreadlocks."

Pity me; for my prejudice almost made me pass on Pazy.*

In fact, I did pass on the record twice before I finally picked it up on a whim... Well, actually, it was a bit more of an educated process than just a "whim"; after all, my aversion is chiefly to reggae from the mid-1980s onwards and the orange-and-black EMI label on this disc suggested that it was from the 1970s... 1982 tops. And while I didn't recognize any of the musicians listed on the back (Pazy Etina? Makos? Colins Osokpor? James Etina?), none of them were credited with "Linn drum programming" or "synbass"--Jack Stone was even given as playing the organ and not "keyboards"! So yeah, I figured that if nothing else, at least this reggae record would be rootsier than the tinny Casio skank that scored much of the Babangida and Abacha eras.

Sure enough, the album does start off with a couple of decidedly tasty reggae cuts--one minute into the inaugural track, the lovely Carlton & the Shoes-esque "Comfort Me JahoJah" (never mind how it's spelled on the back cover), I already knew this was to become one of my favorite records--but soon veers off into some heavy psychfunkrock of the brain-frying variety.



Unearthing an album from Nigeria’s 1970s which is blending afrobeat with reggae music is a dream come true for any music lover. Apart from the quality of ‘Wa Ho Ha’, it really captures the spirit of that age – just take a look at the cult cover.

Back in 1978 reggae music was still enjoying its heyday and Bob Marley was becoming a universal figure while at the same time Fela Kuti had just released his smash hit ‘Zombie’ (1977) and his sound was already extremely popular in Nigeria and beyond. As the ‘developing world’ was certainly living its own musical revolution, punk was already at peak and British bands were increasingly looking at Jamaica for new sounds (not to forget Bad Brains in the US). The common denominator of all these musical movements was a youthful spirit of rebellion and in some cases a serious contestation of social norms and political elites.

 Afrobeat and highlife (as imported from Ghana in the 1920s) shaped much of the cultural identity of Nigeria – Fela Kuti is still considered a musical and activist luminary of his time and his sons Seun and Femi still carry the torch. What is lesser known is that reggae had also its prominence in Nigerian 1970s. Edire “Pazy” Etinagbedia and his band  ‘The Black Hippies’ hailing from Benin City of South Nigeria managed to combine rock steady beats which point directly back to 1960s Jamaica with Nigerian afrobeat drizzled with hints of psychedelic rock.

 The album starts in a rock steady fashion with ‘Comfort Me JahoJa’ and ‘My Home’ but then it slowly drifts towards the afrobeat territory with the funky soul/pop of ‘Come Back Again’ and the afro-centric funk rock of ‘Elizabeth’ which closes the A side of the album. The second side is more upbeat with afrobeat being centre stage thus the songs are slightly longer. Both ‘Wa Ho Ha’ and ‘Lahila’ are memorable afrobeat anthems with ‘Papa’s Black Dog’ in the middle having a strong early-Funkadelic flavour.

Pazy’s ‘unkempt’ falsetto dominates the music in the first songs while the instruments take over progressively (the last three songs are almost instrumental). You can expect a quality recording in the legendary studios of EMI Nigeria, top-notch musicianship and a punch of attitude typical of that times as described above. I must admit that Pazy’s out-of-tune vocal leanings might turn some people off but those interested in the music of the 1970s will definitely embrace this reissue. More than anything ‘Wa Ho Ha’ is a cult album.



  1. Comfort Me JahoJa
  2. My Home
  3. Come Back Again
  4. Elizabeth

  1. Wa Ho Ha
  2. Papa’s Black Dog
  3. Lahila

Oct 17, 2012

Pat Thomas - Stage Two

Rare and out of print on Gapophone. Killer rare afro funk from Ghana.

 Maybe someone has a copy he would like to share? Please feel free to contact me ....


A1. Let's Think It Over
A2. La La La La La La
A3. We Are Coming Home
A4. Think About It
A5. Sweet Gloria
B1. I Need You Around
B2. Mankind "Fishes"
B3. Let's Do It Now
B4. Let Me Feel As I Am

Oct 15, 2012

Unreleased EBO TAYLOR tracks ...

Yesterday I got some interesting comment from Amos Anyimadu on one of my Ebo Taylor posts:

"Ebo Taylor's legendary producer Essiebons is on Soundcloud with many unreleased Ebo Taylor tracks and more ... No shaking. Know your rich heritage."

Check it out ....

Oct 12, 2012

Afrobeat-influenced music from Martinique: Bèlènou

Bèlènou was created by Edmond Mondésir and Léon Bertide in 1980 in Martinique. Dedicated to bèlè music, traditional music from Martinique deeply rooted in african heritage, Bèlènou is still in activity more than thirty years after. Edmond Mondésir is a cultural and political activist well-known by martinicans. He’s a singer, songwriter, musician, professor of philosophy, also known as an independentist and a syndicalist. He’s also one of the persons who created A.P.A.L. radio (Asé Pléré An Nou Lité : Let’s Stop Crying Let’s Fight).

The Album Chimen Ta La (This Road) was released in 1983 on A.P.A.L. label and is now repressed in its original form; a gatefold double vinyl album by Léritaj : a brand new label dedicated to African Heritage within the diaspora which is the first release.



Edmond Mondesir was born in Fort-de-France (Martinique) in 1948. Professor of Philosophy, talented writer and composer, he is also a recognized singer and an awarded « tanbou bèlè » musician.

After finishing his philosophy career he returned to his birth place with the conviction of the existence of a rich musical tradition in Martinique. He then participates in many traditional groups and starts to investigate in the North Martinique’s provinces searching for the authentic Bèlé.

After this starting road, he creates with Léon Bertide the group Bèlènou in 1980 and records his first Bèlé’s album, with his own compositions and a traditional touch. In 1983, it comes out their second album, consecrated to modern instrumental Bèlé. Between 1980 and 2002 Edmond Mondésir makes nine productions, divided between traditional Bèlé and modern Bèlé, between sung bèlé and instrumental Bèlé.
During their 25 years career he performed with his group on the Martinica’s most prestigious stages. The artist’s fame expands all over the Caribbean and Latin America, and it was in a Cuban festival where he found the inspiration for the song “Santiago”.

In 2003, he receives the SACEM award as a homenage to his whole work.
Today, Edmond Mondésir is an important pillar in the Bèlé music in Martinique. He is, at the same time, a defensor of this music’s authenticity and the executor of its modernization about the Bèlé spirit’s integrity. But more than an artist, he is a cultural militant that has been fighting for thirty years for the Maritinican to be proud of their cultural identity and get it back.

The first album with Manuel Mondésir: « Emosion Bèlè - Les chants du père, la musique du fils » (2006) made and arranged by his son Manuel is the symbol of a bridge between two generations, an exotic and calm trip over a music with roots and multiple aspects.

In 2008 the second collaboration with Manuel Mondésir : « Emosion Bèlè 2 - Hommage à Ti Emile ». It's a tribute to one of the greatest singer of bèlè Ti Emile (1925–1992).

In 2009, he released two albums "Sé Pou La viktwa Nou Ka Alé" and "Nou Pa Pè".
2011, marks the reissue of "Emosion Bèlè" [remastered album and credited with 5 new titles for the first time available in France] and the European tour of the artist.

In March 2011, Edmond Mondesir receives the "Prix France Musique des Musiques du monde 2011" award.



A1. Chimen ta la       
A2. 22 Mé       
B1. Endépandans       
B2. Bélia pou pèp nou       
C1. Omaj pou DAnyèl       
C2. Flanbo pèp la       
D1. Bochèt       
D2. Ansinel       
D3. Nou ni Sendika       

Oct 9, 2012

Rare Afrofunk from Ghana: The Big Beats (get it)

So few is known about this band I have to relay Miles Cleret' notes, where the A side of this singe has been compiled on the excelent "Ghana Special" by Soundway records.

The Big Beats were a band formed mostly from the popular soul band El Pollos' second band, the Triffids. They played for some time in Lagos where they perfected their afro-beat style, returning to Ghana and recording two 45s for the Polydor label : "Mi Nsumõõ Bo Dõnn" ("I don't love you any more") was the B-side to the hit single "Kyenkyema which became a by-word in 70's  Ghana for anything old, outdate or decrepit. Their other release, "Afro-Pride" / "Kwemo Nahi",was released simultaneously but didn't sell anything like as well.


Oct 7, 2012

Afro Psych from 1972: Akido

somewhere it says: "... When I first listened to this album, I started out on side 2 by chance. And this is why I didn’t get past much of the rest of the album. The first song on side 2, titled Gone With Yesterday, is frickin’ awesome. A definite future mix-tape centerpiece, a song blended of afro-beat, reggae, folk, and 70s soul. Has a haunting guitar in the background which sounds Indian or Egyptian that just keeps improvising and then cuts to a solo after the first vocal verse. And then keeps going until you’re totally feelin’ it. The music is strangely happy and positive although the vocals say, “Yesterday, you gave me happiness, happiness, that’s all I need, to get me happy, but Today, my happiness is gone, with yesterday, with yesterday, ohhh everything, with yesterday.” And then the next song continues this mood theme and goes off into a terrific all instrumental afro-funk jazzy jam (Hippies, you’d like this).

And the rest of side two is just kick-ass. I can’t go wrong if I’m deciding what to throw on and I choose this side. I can listen to a fantastic single and then jam the rest of the way through the record, djembes and everything. Psychedelic Afro-funk! Which is so good and I go to flip the record, but, strangely, side 1 is dissapointing. Because I expect it to be better than side 2, cuz it’s side 1 of this awesome record.

But it’s more subdued, less exciting, and the first song completely stops the pulse of the record so far (if listened to from side 2 first). It’s like an introduction to who they are, with a lame slow drum intro and then some music to kind of show us what we’re about to hear. And then the songs sound choppy and mixed up. They can’t decide if they want to make more songs like, Yesterday, or jam out like they do so well. The first two songs with vocals suck, and then they start jamming for a song, which sounds sweet. And then the next song goes to a half jam/half Yesterday, which sucks again. And the last song of side 1 is a chant, and kinda sucks too.

So I think if this album was contructed better and the actual concept was re-evaluated the album would be a classic in 70s Afro-funk. As it stands, side 2 is so good that the album is definitely still worth checking out."


01. Awade / We have come  
02. Psychedelic baby  
03. Midnight lady  
04. Happy song  
05. Jo jo lo (Delicate beauty)  
06. Gone with yesterday  
07. Confusion 0
08. Wajo (Come & dance)  
09. Blow

Oct 3, 2012

No afrobeat but amazing jazz-rock-instrumental from Venezuela: KRé (for free)

KRé was founded 10 years ago in Caracas, Venezuela, where it flourished by developing a vocabulary that used elements of jazz-rock, afro-latin music, experimental and post-rock.


la curva y el humo
el radio está en la cocina
entre 6 y 8
eclipse Falcón
una corriente indefinida y otra finita 

The World Ends: A Conversation with African Music Archivist Uchenna Ikonne

As the counter-cultural movement reached its apex circa 1967 in San Francisco with swarms of people preaching peace, love, communal living, psychoactive drugs and “dropping out,” there was a similar revolution commencing in Nigeria that had nothing do with good vibes, wearing flowers in your hair, or communing with New Age mantras. Nigeria was in the midst of a brutal civil war that would end up spanning over two years and extinguish over three million lives in the process. “The World Ends” is the newest compilation of African psychedelic music released on Soundway Records that gives voice to the renaissance of music that occurred after that savage period in Nigerian history. I interviewed Uchenna Ikonne, the man who has been tracking down the music from this turbulent era, and we got to speaking about the apoliticism of the post-civil war generation, Fela as a proto-Kanye West, and some of his favorite records off the comp.

Hydra: How did you come across all the records/knowledge that are contained in the compilation? Could you relate 1 or 2 interesting stories in the process of finding these records?

Uchenna: That’s a bit of a tough question. I wish I could share with you picaresque adventures about discovering this music but I don’t think that journey has been all that interesting. I was born in the 1970s and while I was too young to have ever been a part of this scene, I grew up in the shadow of it, hanging around older guys and trying to decipher their reminiscences of the music they had rocked to in the seventies. For some reason, those memories stuck with me for years even as this music was forgotten by the masses and maybe about ten years ago I started trying to actively collect some of these lost records.
That led almost organically to me trying to document the history of the musicians who made these records and the world that influenced them. So I started doing a lot of research. I spent almost a year crisscrossing Nigeria, tracking down these guys, many of whom had quit the music game decades ago; some of them didn’t even remember the records I was talking about because this was several lifetimes ago for them. They were pretty flabbergasted, some of them, that these old records were remembered at all, let alone being appreciated by a new audience overseas.

Hydra: You say that the Nigerian army was instrumental in providing the necessary resources for these young musicians to access instruments. Could you explain how politics played a role in the music itself? I know that the music showcased in this comp is after a heavy civil war, so I wonder if the musicians were trying to escape the political realities that they had just experienced through music, or did they use the music to expand and understand their communal experience of civil war?

 Uchenna: The musicians themselves were largely apolitical— like 99% of young guys who join bands anywhere in the world, they mostly just wanted to have fun hanging out with their friends, playing the music they loved, and meeting girls. But I suppose there was a subtle political component to the music. The majority of the bands that recorded during this period came from eastern Nigeria, the part of the country which had until recently been the secessionist state of Biafra, which was the primary theater in which the war had unfurled as Nigeria fought to re-absorb Biafra into the union. By the end of the war, the previously-rich region had been left devastated—physically, economically, and spiritually. Most of the indigenes had lost family members and all their possessions, and while everybody was glad the horror of the war was over, the current reality was still pretty harsh. Many of the survivors of the war testify that the music was a means of escape that really kept their spirits up.

Hydra: What are your top 3 songs from the compilation and why?

 1. “Somebody’s Gotta Lose or Win” by The Hygrades: I like the rollicking, deep rhythm & blues feeling on this. The Hygrades were led by Goddy Oku—a veteran of The Postmen, who were the first rock & roll band in the Eastern region of Nigeria—and he retained a lot of that old school sensibility. So even though most of the performances of the 1960s Nigerian rock & pop bands might be lost to time because so few of them got the chance to record, this track provides some insight into what they sounded like.

2. “Deiyo Deiyo” by The Hykkers: The Hykkers were also one of the groups from Nigeria’s forgotten 1960s rock & roll heyday; in fact, they were probably the first pop band in the country. They were known primarily as TV stars who appeared on a weekly show, playing mostly Beatles covers, so the wild, psychedelic sound they display on this record was a major change of pace for them. Actually, it was a change for the scene as a whole since it was one of the earliest records in this psych-fuzz style.

3. “Blacky Joe” by P.R.O. (People Rock Outfit): I love the rich, emotive vocal tone of the singer Stoneface Iwuagwu on this rock ballad. A lot of times when people talk about African music, the emphasis is always on rhythm and uptempo bootyshaking, but the truth is that what most Africans (and especially Nigerians) are really into is saccharine melodies and sentimental ballads. Of course, there’s also a pretty wild guitar freakout at the end of the song to justify its inclusion on a compilation dedicated to psychedelia.

Hydra: You talk about Fela in the notes and I thought it was interesting that you made Fela out to be an opportunist, which frankly didn’t surprise me. How do you think the youth of that time viewed him and his music? Were they trying to break free from Fela and his influence, much like how the Sex Pistols wanted to destroy the Beatles/ Pink Floyd? Perhaps my example is a bit abrasive, but what I would like to know is if the musicians of the scene were in a way tired of Fela and what he represented. If they did in fact continue to revere Fela and hold him in high esteem, could you explain why?

Uchenna: There was no time for them to be tired of Fela or what he represented because what Fela represented at that time was actually considered quite fresh and state-of-the-art. Even though he had been on the scene since the early sixties, his music had been considered a bit too avant-garde and as a result he hadn’t experienced much in the way of major success until the single “Jeun K’oku (Chop & Quench)” was released at the end of 1970—around the same time as the rock explosion. And what made that record unique from all of Fela’s previous output was the fact that it was produced like a rock record.

At that point, Fela had been referring to his music as “afrobeat” for a few years, but up until then it was little more than a theoretical genre tag looking for a sound to attach itself to. The funk-rock edge of “Jeun K’oku” functioned as the roux that coalesced Fela’s highlife and jazz influences and finally gave afrobeat the backbone and musculature it had thus far lacked. It very quickly became the best selling record in Nigerian music history and its phenomenal success served as a major impetus for EMI Records to not only sign more rock acts (who had been ignored by all the major labels up until then) but also to urge them to develop a more overtly “afro” sound rather than merely aping Western styles. So even though he hailed from the previous generation, Fela was—obliquely—a godfather of the afro rock scene. Of course, the young rockers probably didn’t aspire to emulate him directly: coming from a jazz background, his music was primarily horn-based while these young guys were more interested in electric guitars and organs. But even Fela himself soon traded his trumpet for an electric organ, an instrument intimately associated with rock music.

As for whether the respect between Fela and the rock musicians was mutual, it’s hard to say for sure what he truly thought about them. In general, it’s hard to tell what he thought about any musician other than himself, really. Like a lot of ego-driven genius-types, Fela liked to give the impression that the only music he had ears for was his own. He sometimes spoke glowingly of certain foreign musicians, but it was rare for him to comment positively about other Nigerian acts. But what’s important to remember is that he was, above all, a professional musician operating in a fiercely competitive environment, so he probably did not see much value in promoting or even complimenting any musician who could be considered a rival to him.

As much as he criticized the rock bands for being unoriginal and imitative of Western musicians, by the same token he also dismissed the practitioners of hardcore indigenous music styles like juju as being embarrassingly quaint and hokey. Even when esteemed Ghanaian afro rock pioneers Osibisa (whose music exerted a huge influence on “Jeun K’oku”) came to Nigeria, he lambasted them and tried to incite the audience against them. Fela was kind of like the Kanye West of Nigeria in that he was never comfortable with any situation in which he was not the center of attention!