Mar 28, 2013

Adjaho G. Coffi - Adjaho G. Coffi

Adjao G.Coffi composed and played with Poly-Rythmo's orchestra in this wonderful recorded. Adjaho is an artist coming from theatre, but he is also a great music composer and singer. Popular, poetic, politic, Adjaho Guillaume Coffi was a huge artist. He passed away in 2006...

Mar 26, 2013

Recent interviews from Femi Kuti for his new album "No place for my dream"

Femi Kuti and Postive Force visited Chicago’s Metro nightclub on a painfully cold winter night recently. Kuti arrived on stage visibly shivering, but wasted no time heating things up. The reigning prince of afrobeat led his seven piece ensemble through a blistering set of familiar favorites and new material from his soon to be released LP No Place for My Dream. At age fifty, Fela’s eldest son is still an electrifying performer. Kuti had no trouble setting the dance floor off, while working himself into a trance-like fervor, chanting and screaming his impassioned message of social justice. After the show Okayafrica’s Kyle Long caught up with Femi Kuti to discuss his new project and the current state of afrobeat music.

Kyle Long for Okayafrica: What’s the meaning behind the title of your new album No Place for My Dream?

Femi Kuti: It’s a story about my life. I set out with all these good intentions of world peace, love and togetherness. People around me would say “there is no place for this dream. Great men have had this dream, why do you think your dream is any different? Don’t waste your time.” But I said “no, I’m determined to keep this dream.” As much as I tried to explain my view, I was discouraged. But I want people to dream and I hope the title will make you think a lot and dream.

OKA: What are your thoughts on the current generation of Nigerian pop stars like D’banj, P-Square and WizKid?

FK: I know they’re trying to sound very American, but they also draw a lot of influence from afrobeat. I think they are on the right track. I don’t have anything to criticize about them. I just wish they would learn to play musical instruments. I think many young people come into music without learning an instrument. They are relying on drum beats and a catchphrase. The younger generation that will take over after them will grow up thinking that this is what music is all about. But their music creates peace, it makes people dance and it makes everybody happy.

OKA: Over the last several years there’s been an explosion of interest in afrobeat music, does that surprise you?

FK: I’m not surprised. When I was a young boy we listened to everything from America and around the world. But no music really touched us like my father’s music. It had something more meaningful. Other things we heard had love stories, broken hearts, blah blah blah. They all sounded the same, repeating the same lyrics. My father was always talking about the suffering of the people. His music meant something. So I’m not surprised that many young people want to identify with this kind of music, especially considering the crisis we are facing globally. Young people want to be identified with something that is meaningful. Because of this, afrobeat will always grow with each new generation.

OKA: Why is the message of social commentary such an inseparable component of afrobeat music?

FK: Because Fela, the founder of the music used that concept as the basis of his creation. He set out to use music to fight evil and corruption; to stand up for justice. He paid a very huge price for that. But he never backed down, he never compromised, he never surrendered. People feel the impact of this foundation. Every generation that hears this music becomes very strongly attached.

OKA: What’s the current state of the club your father established, The Shrine?

FK: The Shrine is not just a club, it’s a place where we use music to pay homage to great people. It was built to honor great people like Martin Luther King, Mandela, Lumumba, Sankara – people who have fought for freedom. That is the basis of the Shrine. It’s still there and it still has a lot of support from the people. It’s standing strong.

We have a free disco night which 2,000 people attend every Friday. It’s free because we understand people can’t afford to come every week – music is not only for the rich. I play every Thursday and Sunday. I play for free on Thursday and charge two dollars on Sunday.

The government has tried to close the Shrine several times. The last time there was a very big outcry internationally and ever since then we have had peace. The government now, especially the state government, is trying to make friends with my family. They built a museum in honor of my father. So things are looking quite bright. There’s so much international press now with Fela! on Broadway, so many people are talking about afrobeat. That keeps people from persecuting the family.

OKA: You’ve had an amazing career; what’s next for you?

FK: I would love to build a studio in Nigeria. I think if I build a studio, then I’m obliged and willing to work with as many young artists as I desire. I think that’s what I want to do in the future – build my studio and help young artists with their music. This new album is very powerful. It’s frightening, because I think it’s my best work. I think I’m going to find it very difficult to overcome this album in the future. But I’m going to keep on practicing, working hard, touring and dreaming.

Fela’s Number One Son Talks About His New Album And Picks Six Essential Afrobeat Tunes

We caught up with FEMI KUTI before last night’s show at Webster Hall in NYC. When he said that he thought his new album, No Place For My Dream, is his “best work so far,” we politely mentioned that every artist think their new album is their best work so far. He laughed before replying: “Well I’m not every artist, one,” he said for starters, “and two I think it because I know. I think Shoki Shoki was one of my most powerful albums. So I would say with that album I was on the highway. I defined another level of Afrobeat, the possibilities of Afrobeat with that album.” Full interview After The Jump…

“With Fight to Win I had the opportunity to work with great American hip-hop artists. And then I had the opportunity to record live at the Shrine—I wanted to see the shrine. And I tried to try some technological stuff with Day by Day. On Africa for Africa I went back to Nigeria to record, so people could feel the problems I’m talking about with that album. With this album I think I’m back on the highway as I did with Shoki Shoki, defining again where I am.”

Is all the music on the new album played by your band, Positive Force?

Yes. I stuck more to the Shoki Shoki format is what I’m saying.

Will you be performing any songs from the new album in New York this weekend?

Most definitely.

Which ones should we listen out for?

The title track, “There Is No Place For My Dream,” “The World Is Changing,” “We Carry On Pushing On.”

“No Place For My Dream” What’s the meaning of that song?

It’s a story about my life.

That’s a terrible thought. Do you really believe that’s true?

It’s what people say. You’ll have to listen to it. [laughs] Listen to it and enjoy it yourself and come to your own conclusions. If I give you my assessment of it, that wouldn’t really be fair because I’m brainwashing you. So I’ll be biased and then when you are listening you’ll have my thoughts. Best that you listen to it pure and simple. Then you can ask me.

Can I ask you what is your dream?

World peace. Happiness. Love. Jobs for everybody.

The big things.

Yeah the very big things. People say they are impossible.

I hope those people are wrong. This sounds like a really important song.

I’m telling you it is. I know. I’m not biased when I say it’s my most powerful album. I hope you’ll give me a call, or you can even reach me on Twitter and tell me when you get it. You can tell me “Yes you were right.” I’m telling you I’m right. It will be very hard for me to beat this album.

There are still some people who are not familiar with Afrobeat. Can you recommend 5 songs for the them to listen to so they can understand what this music is all about, which 5 songs would you choose?

Of mine?

Yours or anybody’s.

Mar 25, 2013

Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s & ‘80s

Soundway Records present Kenya Special: Selected East African Recordings from the 1970s & ‘80s - a treasure-trove of rare and unusual recordings from East Africa. Spread out over two CDs and one triple LP, Kenya Special is accompanied by detailed liner notes, original artwork and photographs.It follows on from Soundway’s much acclaimed African ‘Special’ series that to date has focused on the highlife and afrobeat output from 1970s Nigeria and Ghana.

Kenya Special is a collection of 32 recordings (most of which were only ever released on small-run 45rpm 7" singles) that stand out as being different or unique as well as some classic genre standards. From Kikuyu language ‘liquid soul’, Luo benga and Swahili afrobeat to genre-bending Congolese and Tanzanian tracks recorded in Nairobi, Kenya Special sees Soundway yet again taking the less trodden path. Many of the tracks featured here are peppered with innovation and experimentation highlighting how diverse the music scene in Kenya was at the time.

In 1970s Kenya the two threads of rumba and benga loosely dominated the music scene. Benga quickly became Kenya’s unique contribution to afro-pop; spreading like wildfire through the interior countryside with it’s fast, 4/4 machine-gun beat and intricate electric guitar layers. The Congolese take on Afro-Cuban rumba was introduced by touring bands many of whom settled in East Africa - influencing bands from Kenya and Tanzania to come up with their own take on this popular style. Alongside these styles were small ensembles and hotel-sponsored bands, playing a blend of music that often included rock ‘n’ roll riffs, elements of ‘afro’ music (influenced by West African musicians like Fela Kuti), and multiple other combinations from South African and Zambian guitar styles to disco, funk and Swahili coastal rhythms like chakacha.

Painstakingly compiled, assembled and researched over two years by a team of five people from five countries (Kenya included), Kenya Special is a collection that looks beyond the mainstream and brings new life and recognition to some little known gems and forgotten classics of Kenya’s past.


For those of you familiar with the Soundway '...Special' series, you will probably be aware of the releases success. Following on from the re-issues that have to date focused on Highlife and Afrobeat output from 70s Nigeria and Ghana respectively, the next installment will soon be upon us.

'Kenya Special' (East African Recordings from the 1970s & ‘80s) has been announced for release at the end of April. Bearing in mind Kenya's diverse linguistic and musical heritage, a selection focusing on this part of East Africa is likely to be pretty diverse.

''From Kikuyu language ‘liquid soul’, Luo benga and Swahili afrobeat to genre-bending Congolese and Tanzanian tracks recorded in Nairobi, Kenya Special sees Soundway yet again taking the less trodden path. Many of the tracks featured here are peppered with innovation and experimentation highlighting how diverse the music scene in Kenya was at the time'' 

One (very lively) track has been made available to accompany the press release, and if 'Ware Wa' can be used as a barometer for the release, things are about to get heavy.

You can pre-order the release in a multitude of formats (with alternative track lists for each) over at the Soundway site right now. Have a listen to the sampler below, and do the right thing. I for one am particularly excited about this one.

Mar 22, 2013

Monomono - Give the beggar a chance

As the name suggests, Give The Beggar A Chance shows the kind of social awareness largely absent from other releases of the same era. This is Africa, not America; out with 60s soul covers, in with themes exclusive to the concrete jungle that is Lagos.

“What do you want from a leper?” sings Haastrup on the title track. “Wake up, no hands to scratch his back.” And then “what do you need from a beggar? Wake up, no hopes to live tomorrow”. Through humour and clever wordplay, the seven tracks of Give the Beggar A Chance give two fingers to “the people sleeping in mansions”.

The album displays a rich celebration of the Hammond organ, an instrument that played an important role for outfits with limited funds such as MonoMono. Every church in the city has an organ. As many great singers from poverty-stricken communities came out of gospel choirs, so did the organ provide an opportunity for budding instrumentalists. Give the Beggar A Chance has that rough-edged “let loose after a Sunday service” feel; see The Upsetters’ galloping, spaghetti Western homage Return o Django for an excellent Jamaican equivalent. Doors fans should find a point of interest also, with Ray Manzarek most likely supplying the inspiration for Haastrup’s meandering organ solo on "Kenimania".


Give the Beggar a Chance is a sweet and soulful debut that highlights Haastrup’s voice—his honeyed vocals are a far cry from Kuti’s gruff, spare singing and keyboard work. Playing with guitarist Jimmy Adams, bass player Baba Ken Okulolo, and percussionists Candido Obajimi and Friday Jumbo, Haastrup’s work with MonoMono doesn’t always feel much like the sound of a band. His vocals are mixed way high, as are his keyboards, and his larger-than-life charm nearly overwhelms the songs. Still, if you sift through the layers, the band is a tight outfit. They shift carefully, but effectively, tone and tempo throughout the record. “The World Might Fall Over” moves from Haastrup’s keyboard vamps to a bright and sped-up group jam, before settling into a smoldering soul number. “Find Out”, one of many strident calls to action on these albums, has a similar push and pull. The shifts are subtle, but in such relatively short compositions, they catch you off guard and keep you interested.


Nigeria's Joni Haastrup created his band called MonoMono back in 1971. Though not truly a solo sojourn, Joni's friend Baba Ken Okulolo, who is also a bassist, added to the funk arena of West Africa. Initially released as an LP on the Odeon label in 1973, Give The Beggar A Chance featured seven tracks of funky rhythms and Latin infusions amidst an instrumental repertoire of organ, piano, synthesizer, percussion, and drums, set the stage for a new kind of jazz-rock-funk. Joni is joined by guitarist Jimmy Adams, and percussionists Candido Obajimi and Friday Jumbo. At the very core of its being, the soul of the 70's shines through in MonoMono's work. The bluesy-funk of 'The World Might Fall Over,' showcases a nice blend of bass, organ, and synthesizer with strong vocals. If you are seeking Afro-funk music from a living icon, then sample MonoMono today.


Joni Hasstrup has suffered a few strokes in recent years. His band's, Monomono, 1972 debut, Give the Beggar... A Chance, is a stroke of musical genius. Throughout, Hasstrups's dismay with his Nigerian brothers and sisters, who still felt reliant on British rule, is evident in his lyrics. On "Find Out," he proclaims: "Don't let nobody mess your brain around/the world is round, so you better find out/the nitty gritty of everything." Hasstrup's shrieking vocal proclamations, combined with the bass and percussion at the beginning of "The World Might Fall Over," are wholly captivating. Written in London and recorded in Lagos, this release is heavily informed and inspired by Hasstrup's experience touring with Ginger Baker in the late '60s. The influence of jazz-rock fusion is unmistakable throughout the intro of "E Je 'A Mura Sise" or Joni's organ licks on "Kenimania." Poetically frank protest lyrics make this killer Soundway reissue unique. Monomono's message to their listeners was simple yet profound. The album ebbs and flows with an underlying feeling of political awareness that attempted to evoke change in '70s Nigeria, a concrete jungle no longer shaded by the umbrella of British colonialism. Forty years later, it's still burning. This is highly recommended for anyone looking to add some sublime West African protest songs to their library. 


Mar 15, 2013

Get it: The Brighton Beat - Live @ Ryles Jazz Club

Driven by a unified belief in real people playing real instruments expressing real human emotions, their goal is to create music that is able to live, breath and develop, with songs that allow the musicians to communicate and tell a story through carefully crafted melodies and inspired solo passages. Real world experiences and an inherent knowledge of jazz set them apart from the crowd. This is a band of working professional musicians looking to make a name for themselves in the ever burgeoning Afrobeat scene. Heavily influenced by Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, but in no way traditional, The group creates grooves reminiscent of Herbie Hancock, at times reaching the raw, unbridled expression found in the music of Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard.

The Brighton Beat stormed onto the scene with their debut; "The Brighton Beat EP" in 2010, and have since hit the ground running, performing at premier venues around greater New England. They are currently touring in support of their first full-length release; "The Brighton Beat LP" and are preparing to release a live record due out Fall 2012, recorded during their Summer tour. 


Get Lots of Brighton Beat – It’s All Good
    The Brighton Beat  are at Spike Hill in Wiliamsburg tonight, Nov 24. Not only are the band’s studio recordings both up as free downloads at their Bandcamp page, but they’ve also got a treasure trove of live recordings at their main site. Smart move: one taste of this will hook you for life if the most psychedelic side of Afrobeat or reggae is your thing. The eleven-piece band’s songs are long, going on for as much as ten minutes at a clip in the studio and longer onstage. 
    Their formula is unhurried yet very tightly focused: introduce the hook and then follow that with slowly unwinding, casually crescendoing solos. Nobody overplays, and much as everybody in the band takes his time getting where he’s going, the point is that they all get there: this stuff doesn’t sound anything like Phish. For that matter, it doesn’t sound much like anybody else either. Washington’s Elikeh come to mind, but The Brighton Beat are much more of a jamband, and on the occasion that they go deep into dub, they’re very good at it.

    The latest studio album opens with a trickily rhythmic, hypnotically Ethio-flavored number with elements of vintage ska. Zach Kamins’ echoey Rhodes piano solo switches to organ and then back, Mark Cocheo’s guitar goes growling and then hands off elegantly to Mark Zaleski’s alto sax. The second track, Changing Elevators is more of a straight-up Afrobeat number that vamps and meanders and then suddenly comes together out of a long Jon Bean tenor sax solo with a snarling minor-key phrase. Then the guitar does the same thing. As with several of the songs here, they band gracefully fades it down.

    By contrast, Giraffe is a balmy, loping tune driven by Ryan Hinchey’s catchy bassline, raging alto sax contasting with the organ as Kamins wiggles the tremolo. Capture the Flag builds with solos from baritone sax and guitar ove a lush Isaac Hayes-style soul/funk vamp, while the darkest track on this album, The Paradox, pairs off uneasy chromatics from the keys and guitar against the horns’ fiery Ethiopiques. The album ends with twelve minutes of Indian Summer, a hypnotic, trippy dub anchored by very cleverly shifting bass beneath layers and layers of swirly atmospherics, ominous guitar and sax lines.

Be aware that some of the live shows are big files (the Ryles Jazz Club gig from this past August is practically 400 mb); you’ll want to make sure your wifi is screaming and you’ve got enough space on that flash drive.


Mar 10, 2013

From France: ANerGy Afrobeat

The group ANerGy Afrobeat was born in February 2008 with the love of soul, vaudoo jazz, funk and African rhythms, all of which allow them to visit this fascinating rhythm, spirit and magic. .

Make music that brings people, removes cultural barriers, mixing tastes and styles is the leitmotiv of the group.

ANerGy claims to naturally Fela Kuti - the brilliant creator of Afrobeat, while placing it in the current context, by the freshness of the sound and content of texts activists.

The atavistic energy, full of music transcends their hypnotic rhythms and syncopated electrify the crowd of fans and new audiences who discover this machine dancing out of nowhere.

The group opted for the Yoruba language - its leader, the pidgin - English Creole spoken in English speaking countries of Africa and French.

The big band revisits an Afrobeat that is more free in his tone, sometimes surreal in its creativity, while promoting the positive values of cultural interferences.

ANerGy, as its name suggests is a hotbed of positive energy that leads to trance. It is also a movement: rhythm and body consciousness.

They have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with international artists such as Tony Allen, Seun Kuti, Ebo Taylor, Keziah Jones ...

Mar 9, 2013

From France: Opposite Afrobeat Band

Opposite Afrobeat Orchestra Band was founded in Paris in 2008.

The Afrobeat music is a hybrid resulting from the fusion of rhythms meeting Yoruba, jazz, high life, the juju, soul, funk, and rock. Fela Kuti had made a weapon against the military junta that controlled Nigeria at the time and a great dance machine and propagate ideas panafricanists. Today, Afrobeat is played around the world, offering new paths to clear and accompanies these struggles without borders.

Bringing together a dozen musicians to various influences, the collective Opposite Afrobeat Band is the result of meetings about the taste of trance music from here and elsewhere. Fueled by the refusal of any form of bondage, alienation and corruption, their compositions flirt with the Man and Nature in all Liberty.

Opposite Afrobeat African Movement

Opposite Afrobeat band | Myspace Music Videos

Mar 8, 2013

The Wings - Tribute To Spud Nathan

Back Down Memory Lane:
The Music and Times of the Wings and
Superstar Spud Nathan

In the first part of this series on Music, Dr. Okorie and I looked at the setting for what became an explosion in music in Biafra following the January 15, 1970 armistice in the Nigeria-Biafra War. Thirty months of bombardment by the Nigerian vandals had failed to break the Biafran spirit, especially where music was concerned. Now, I take a closer look at one of the groups and a particular individual who contributed so greatly to the legend that was the music of the immediate post-War era.

One of the groups that stood out in those early days was the Wings, with the Late Jonathan Udensi a.k.a. Spud Nathan as the lead singer. As a child in 1970, I remember it like it was yesterday, when Spud and Arinze Okpalla used to walk from Okigwe Road to Ogbo Hill, Aba, to practice their music. Even now, it stands out in my memory how Arinze used to carry his bass guitar with him as he walked with Spud. Little did I know then that those two people would become household names a few months later.

There were three main reasons that so many musicians gravitated to Aba and used it as their base after the war. The first reason was the presence of Mr. Pal Akalonu as music producer for EMI West Africa, one of the largest music labels in the world at the time. The second reason was Aba itself, being the commercial center of Biafra. The Aba traders are known to party hard after a hard day's work. Finally, Aba boasted some of the few functioning hotels at that time that the vandals did not destroy: the Ambassador Hotel and Hotel Unicoco.

The Wings of the early 1970s was perhaps the greatest assembly of talented musicians of all time. With Spud Nathan as the lead singer, Mannford Best on Lead Guitar, Arinze Okpalla on Bass Guitar, Emma China on Percussion and drums, Charles Fleming on Keyboard, Charlie Effie Duke on keyboard Synthesizer. This ensemble started dishing out tunes like no man's business. From their album "You'll really really want me back some day," came their smash hits of the same title and "Tell me why you are so cruel." That album put the Wings on the road to stardom, and made Pal Akalonu and EMI a have to be seen with music combo. EMI made so much money off this album that they signed Wings for a multi-year contract. So many hits followed that the Wings became the commercial stable of EMI Records in the 70s. EMI's success with the Wings led Pal Akalonu to produce other Biafran groups like Founders 15, the Army band with that made the smash hit "Be my own," and the Apostles with their smash hit "Acts of the Apostles," all Akalonu's productions.

Wings' success wasn't an overnight thing. Years of hard work and crossing Over Rail, Aba started yielding results for the Wings. Why not? With a voice as good as Spud Nathan's, you've got to be successful. Then came the 70s High school graduations. If your school could afford to stage Wings as part of your graduation festivities, you know that you have arrived, and you know that girls will de bokwu, and if you can take your girlfriend to a Wings concert, she is yours for the rest of your high school years. The Wings started filling concert halls from Holy Ghost College Owerri to University of Nigeria Nssukka. Spud's dancing and floorshows could give girls orgasms on the dance floor. People couldn't get enough of this man; his body twisting movement and dancing mesmerized girls.

The Wings were packing them every night from Aba to Onitsha, Nssukka, Enugu Town Hall, Mbaise, and Owerri to Igwe Nga. Then came Phillips stereo system. If you could afford one in those days and could squeeze in a Wings Album, your house will be the hang out of every young adult in your village. To give your Phillips stereo a more bass boom, you had to either invest in Igbo clay pot (ite nmiri / Udu) or use one of your moms's. You put the Phillips cover, which is also the speaker face down on top of the mouth of the clay pot, this will give you more boom for your music. Because of the money EMI Records was raking in from the Wings Albums, EMI records decided to make the Wings the first musical group East of Niger to own a car, this would later become the Achilles heel of the Wings and Spud Nathan.

In late 1973 the Wings released a prophetic album - an album that turned out to be the last the Wings would have with Spud Nathan's voice. That album became a beer parlor debate item. Even today, from the title song of that album, "I am a single boy," many arm chair prognosticators and pundits still argue that Spud knew he was going to die, that he sang about his own death. Many have said the lyrics of that song means that Spud knew what was coming. Whichever side you are on in that debate, I will leave it for his

Then came that faithful Friday Night show at UNN. As I stated earlier, the Wings were to become the first group to own individual cars in the early 1970s. That faithful Friday, Arinze Okpalla and Mannford Best's Toyota cars were delivered by RT Briscoe Aba, and Spud's car was to arrive Monday from Lagos. So, that particular Friday night's show at UNN was going to be like no other shows. No more riding in buses with the musical instruments. It was time to go in style. Spud Nathan rode with Mannford Best in Best's new car to Nssukka that day. During break that night, Mannford Best had sex with a girl in that car. This infuriated Spud Nathan, to the point Spud and Mannford Best exchanged so many harsh words. Spud told Mannford that he has defiled a car that had not been blessed, and not even a day old. Spud even went further and told Mannford that he will not ride with him back to Aba after the show. After the show that night, Arinze approached Spud and ask him if he will like to catch a ride with him (Arinze) back to Aba, Spud said no, because he wouldn't want Mannford to take their misunderstanding about the sex in the car incidence serious. Arinze drove off to Aba, and Mannford and Spud followed behind.

On the way home to Aba, anybody that traveled through any Eastern Region roads in the early 1970s will know what death trap those roads were. To add insult to injury, the so-called East Central State Administrator, Dr Ukpabi Asika, had the gull to tell us then that good roads cause accidents. So, on reaching Njaba Bridge, at this point Spud was sleeping while Mannford was driving, Mannford said that he thought he saw an elderly woman, and was trying to avoid hitting her, and went into on-coming traffic, hit a vehicle, swerved, and hit another object. Now that I am older and graying, my beliefs about the whole incident have changed. So, as Spud was sleeping when this accident happened, he woke up with that trauma shock and collapsed, this accident happened about 3.30am. Arinze got to Aba; no Spud and no Mannford Best. The Wings were to play an afternoon jump in Aba that Saturday afternoon. Instead of the jump, Aba went into somber mood when the news reached the city that Spud Nathan had died early that morning. How could this happen? How could this talented man be uprooted in his prime? This is not happening to us. How did this man I used to greet every morning on his way to practice have to die, his beautiful voice silenced forever? Aba was not the same for a long time. Reality hit everyone the day Spud's coffin left Aba to Ihiala for burial. A mother had lost her only son. Sisters had lost their only brother. For the rest of us, we lost a friend and an entertainer. However, for the Udensi family, their loss couldn't be any bigger. Their lives would never be the same. Mother Udensi's life changed for ever after she lost her only son.

After the burial of Spud, what about the Wings? Where do they go from there? To play or not to play?, Should they fold the band and go their separate ways. So many unanswered questions. Monday morning quarterbacking takes a new role. May be Spud shouldn't have rode with Mannford after the argument that night. May be Arinze should have insisted that Spud Ride with him. Nobody could answer any of these questions.

Back to the issue of Wings. Almost every member of the Wings was in a funk after Spud's death. The blame game and factions developed between what was once the most popular music group. People started taking sides. Either you are with Arinze or you are with Mannford. The Blame game and Mannford's affluent background started coming out in the open. There was a time when nobody cared whether Mannford was from a well to do family or not. What about Udensi's family who have lost their only son. Where do they go from here?

Nd'Igbo being who we are, superstition is part of our culture; this made life unbearable for Mannford Best. Many started blaming him, that if he had not had sex in that car that night may be the accident wouldn't have happened. Some even went as far as saying that the old woman Mannford saw on Njaba bridge that early morning was the same woman he had sex with earlier. That the girl Mannford slept with was a ghost. Some said had Mannford waited until the car was blessed that Spud would still be alive. Which school of thought do you belong to? You be the judge of that, the only thing I know is a man is gone forever.

Now came the inevitable. Was the Wings going to be the same as one unit considering everything that was going on and all the ego that started to sip in? Spud was the leader. Now that he is gone who is going to be the leader. Will Arinze yield to Mannford considering everything? Will Mannford's ego allow him to yield to Arinze? Arinze still dazed from the death of Spud was not in the mood for any talk of music careers and leaders. Arinze suggested that the Wings mourn for Spud Nathan for two years, no concerts, no record releases for two years. This didn't seat well with Mannford Best, who insisted that they continue playing while mourning and honoring Spud. Wow! That exacerbated things; it was like pouring fuel into an already flaming fire. Mannford's idea to many was like a slap to Spud, considering that it was Mannford's car that was involved in the accident that claimed Spud's life. People started talking again. May be it wasn't an accident. May be Mannford wanted to become the bandleader; that is why he eliminated Spud. This would come to hunt Mannford for long time; some have even said that if it weren't that Mannford came from a well to do family, this would have cost him his own life, because many adoring fans loved Spud, and would have lynched Mannford.

The outcome of this fight after Spud's death will not leave anybody happy, not EMI records, not the millions of Wings fans, not the musicians themselves. Even other Music groups in Aba in those days took sides. Some supporting Arinze, and others supporting Mannford Best. Where do we go from here, Arinze walked? Arinze and some other members of the Wings insisted that they would have to mourn for Spud for two years. Mannford Best went on to form Super Wings; this was the end of Wings, as we knew it during the Spud era.

The Super wings continued playing concerts, life wasn't rosy for the Arinze led faction in those two years; no income coming in, no concerts, it was tough, their resolve and determination and devotion to Spud was tested. The disagreements led to the birth of two factions of the Wings, Original Wings led by Arinze Okpalla, with Jerry Denmua on lead vocal, Charlie Effie Duke, Charlie Fleming, and Emma Chinaka (aka Emma China), and the Super Wings led by Mannford Best.

Mannford went on to recruit other Musicians to compliment him in his Super wings Band, musicians like Jerry Boyfriend on Vocals. Arinze and the original Wings mourned for Spud for 2 good years, before coming out with their smash mega hit "Tribute to Spud Nathan" this album sold like there was no tomorrow. This Album was followed by another honor to Spud, titled my good friend Nathan. Mannford Best also released a tribute to Spud, although his version was not as successful as Original Wings Version. Probably because Spud death still dogged Mannford Best through out the 1970s.

Many of the boys Mannford recruited abandoned him, the vagabond Jerry Boyfriend was the first to leave, followed by others. In music, success creates stability. Unfortunately, original Wings couldn't transfer their commercial success into stable cohesiveness. So after their last Hit "Remake the world" Arinze Okpalla got married and started devoting more time to his other business affairs and his new wife who was a school teacher at Township school Aba at the time. This led to another murmuring from members of Original Wings. After 10 months of not performing concerts because Arinze refused to release instruments, another breakup ensued. This time led By Jerry Denmua, and Emma China, who recruited Ban Joe to be their Bass guitarist and formed the new group "Original Wings Page One" in 1980. Though Page One did not last. The last time I saw Arinze Okpalla was in the mid 1980s, in his 504 Peugeot dropping his wife to school in Aba.

It is hard today to say what might have been? Had Spud lived and how much success the Wings would have enjoyed. Nobody will ever know the answer. One sad thing is that a mother lost her only son, and Nd'Igbo lost a talent - a superstar. Was it fair that Mannford Best was looked at as somebody who contributed to the death of Spud Nathan? History will be a better judge of that.

May the soul of Jonathan Udensi "Spud Nathan" rest in perfect peace. Amen.


A1 Spud Nathan
A2 Your Love Is True
A3 Tell Me
A4 Don't Call Me A Fool
A5 Love Is For Us
B1 Sit Up
B2 Love Is Meant For Two
B3 Just Kidding
B4 Talk It Out
B5 We Are The People

Mar 4, 2013

E.T. Mensah - 7inch (get it)

 Mensah pioneered the development of the swing-jazz influenced highlife dance-bands that were so popular throughout West Africa in the 1950's and 60's. Indeed, these urban dance bands became the musical zeitgeist of the optimistic period of early independence. Their successful use of sophisticated western instruments to play African tunes mirrored the fact that a western socio-political structure was also becoming rapidly Africanized.

While still a small boy, E.T. began playing flute in the Accra Orchestra, a youth band formed by Teacher Lamptey around 1930. Lamptey, the headmaster of a James Town elementary school, had been a member of one of the first dance orchestras in Ghana, the Jazz Kings, formed in the early 1920s. Accra Orchestra became the best-known prewar orchestra, and many of Ghana's top musicians played in it, including E.T., Joe Kelly, and Tommy Gripman.

E. T. and his older brother Yebuah went on to form their own Accra Rhythmic Orchestra, which won the Lambeth Walk Dance Competition in 1939 at the King George Memorial Hall, today's Parliament House. Yebuah Mensah recalled the significance of the very word highlife. "During the early twenties, was created by people who gathered around the dancing clubs such as the Rodger Club (built in 1904) to watch and listen to the couples enjoying themselves. Highlife started as a catch-name for the indigenous songs played at these clubs by such early bands as the Jazz Kings, the Cape Coast Sugar Babies, the Sekondi Nanshamang, and later the Accra Orchestra. The people outside called it highlife as they did not reach the class of the couples going inside, who not only had to pay high entrance fee of 7s 6d., but also had to wear full evening dress including top-hats."

The high-class dance orchestras were eclipsed during the Second World War, when American and British troops were stationed in Ghana. They brought in jazz and swing. Nightclubs and drinking dives were opened to cater for them with names like the Kalamazoo, Weekend-in-Havana and the New York Bar. They also set up dance combos and played with local musicians.

The first combo was the Black and White Spots, set up by Sergeant Leopard. E. T. left his brother's orchestra and joined up with Leopard's jazz combo as sax player in 1940. Sergeant Leopard, a Scot, had been a professional saxophonist in England. According to E. T., it was Leopard himself who introduced them to jazz techniques as he "taught us the correct methods of intonation, vibrato, tonguing, and breath control, which contributed to place us above the average standard in the town."

Just after the war, E. T. joined the Tempos, set up by Ghanaian pianist Adolf Doku and an English engineer and sax player called Arthur Harriman. At first the band included some white soldiers, but after the war the Europeans left and the band became completely African. Joe Kelly became the leader, followed by Guy Warren and ultimately in 1948, by E. T.. It was a seven-piece band with E. T. doubling on trumpet and sax, Joe Kelly on tenor sax, and Guy Warren (known as Kofi Ghanaba) on drums. Guy Warren made an important contribution as he had been playing Afro-Cuban music and calypsos in England. So the Tempos not only played with a jazz touch, but incorporated calypsos into their repertoire and added the bongos, congas and maracas to their line-up.

The Tempos made many trips to Nigeria beginning in 1950 with Kelly and Warren. In 1953, with Spike Anyankor and Dan Acquaye new in the line up, the whole band drove to Lagos and stayed two weeks with the brother of the famous Nigerian dance band leader Bobby Benson. Both times the Tempos received a tremendous welcome, for although highlife was beginning to become popular in Nigeria through recordings, there were as yet no dance bands there. From this time on, the Tempos began to make regular trips to Nigeria, traveling once or twice a year by station wagon, usually stopping of along the way at Lome in Togo, and Cotonou and Porto Novo in Dahomy (now Benin). They stayed for up to three months at a time, as Nigerian immigration law imposed a ninety-day limit on such visits. The Nigerian trips enabled the band to turn professional in 1953. E.T. even set up a second band in 1954, the Star Rockets, to carry on at home while he was away.

When E.T. first went to Nigeria in 1950, highlife was hardly known outside the boundaries of Ghana and even by 1953, Nigerian dance bands such as Sammy Akpabot's Band, the Empire Band and Bobby Benson's Band were still playing mostly swing and ballroom music. By the mid-50s, the Tempos' continual touring was having an influence, and Nigerian dance orchestras began to incorporate highlife into their repertoire. Victor Olaiya, originally a trumpeter with Bobby Benson, was one of the first Nigerian musicians to play highlife when he formed his Cool Cats. Eddie Okunta, also formerly with Bobby Benson, followed suit when he formed the Lido Band. Rex Lawson and E.C. Arinze both split from the Empire Band to form their own bands; in fact Rex Lawson used one of E.T.'s numbers as his signature tune and Dan Acquaye, vocalist for the Tempos, was his idol.

 On occasion, Nigerian musicians would come to the Tempos for training. Agu Norris, leading the Empire Band, took trumpet lessons from E.T. on the trumpet. In Benin city, Victor Uwaifo, then a school boy, would rush to watch and study the Tempos' guitarist Dizzy Acquaye. Other Nigerian musicians influenced by the Tempos included Rex Lawson, Charles lwegbue, Victor Chukwu, Chief Billy Friday, Enyang Henshaw, King Kennytone and Roy Chicago.

Eventually, the relationship between the Tempos and the Nigerian dance bands went the other way as well. When the Nigerian bands started to write their own highlife tune, E.T. brought some of them back to Ghana, including Yoruba numbers "Nike Nike" and "Okamo."

With the Tempos jazzy blend of highlife becoming all the rage in Nigeria and Ghana, the band signed a recording contract with Decca. During the 1950's, E. T. was acclaimed the 'King of Highlife' ( i.e dance-band highlife) throughout West Africa. During the 1950's, he even ran the Paramount Nightclub in Accra. It was there that he jammed with Louis Armstrong and the All Stars during the jazz great's 1956 African tour.

The Tempos also spread their music to other West African cities. They visited Abidjan in 1955, and made a tour of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia in 1958 and 59. Liberia's President Tubman was so impressed that he called the band back for his second inaugural ceremony.

Many important Ghanaian musicians benefited from tutelage received as members of the Tempos. Tommy Gripman later formed the Red Spots, Saka Acquaye helped form the Blackbeats, Spike Anyankor formed the Rhythm Aces. And Ray Ellis, Dan Tackie and the country's first female vocalist Juliana Okine also paid their dues in the Tempos. Two important Nigerians Zeal Onyia and Babyface Paul Osamade also played with the group.

E. T. Mensah's Tempos and their numerous recordings, most of them on Decca, spread highlife far and wide before E. T. retired in the 1970s. He enjoyed a bit of a comeback in the mid-eighties when he played in Britain and Holland. Sterns/Retro-Afric released two of his CDs, and England's Off the Record Press published a biography, written by me.

When I first knew E. T. in the 70s, I was living at Temple House, James Town, in downtown Accra . E. T. used to visit me there. He recalled coming to the place as a boy with Teacher Lamptey's Accra Orchestra, which played for Ghanaian "big people" with top hats and tails at balls held in the old tennis courts at the back of the house, now a factory. Oddly enough, ex-Osibisa percussionist Kofi Ayivor also lived there in the 1960s, and when I left, Kris Bediako, the leader of A Band Named Bediako and the Third Eye group, moved into my flat. This house was built around 1900 by a Ghanaian lawyer named Thomas Hutton-Mills who sponsored the balls that E.T. recalled. His daughter Violet was a brilliant classical pianist who reluctantly had to give up a professional musical career to become her father's secretary. So the house has a strong connection with music.

Sadly, E.T passed away in July 1996 after a long incapacitating illness at his family house in the Mamprobi area of Accra.

John Collins

A big thank goes to WORLDSERVICE for sharing this one! Amazing!

Mar 1, 2013

Tony Sarfo ‎– Superman


A1 Superman
A2 I Beg (Instrumental)
A3 Lift It High
A4 Promise And Fail
B1 Yenda Nyame Ase
B2 Mensah Makyi
B3 Ena Baatan Pa
B4 Mame Abena