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Various - Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk and Juju 1973-1987

  by Erick Mertz

published: 13 / 6 / 2019

Various - Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk and Juju 1973-1987
Label: Strut Records
Format: CD


Excellent compilation of previously unreleased African pop, funk and rock, the first in the 'Nigeria 70' series in over eight years

Over the years, what may be controversially referred to as “world music” has largely disseminated via cobbled together collections, samplings of various artists from a region and defined (in varying degrees of authenticity) by a style and musical genre. The distillation of the Western understanding of the myriad global variations on rock and funk and jazz are quite similar to how Folkways Recordings (founded by Moses Asch back in 1948, later, in 1987, acquired by the Smithsonian Institution) generously utilized a series of 78 RPM LP compilations (and later CD box sets) to open listeners up to the most domestic of genres, folk music. The fact that there are still many excellent releases of Afro-beat being made available is a testament to how deep the influences, and rich the rock and pop tradition on the African continent has been the last half century. The recent release of 'No Wahala' signals the 20th Anniversary of Strut Records, and is their first in the 'Nigeria 70' series in over eight years. Most of these dozen tracks have not been released outside of their country of origin, which means they’ve likely never been heard before anywhere else, which lends the album an air of exclusivity. For those unfamiliar, 'Highlife' and 'Juju' are distinct styles. On this record, they are depicted as raw and blisteringly energetic, often infused with Western styled jazz. The opener 'Oni Suru' by Odeyemi is bright and full of sunny guitars. On 'Black Precious Colour' Felixson Ngasia & The Survivals lend an air of subterfuge to their funk. Similarly, 'Special Secret of Baby' gets down on a railroad groove that it never quite lets go of. 'Kinuye' by Don Bruce And The Angels is the genuine bomb, fattest bass, dance rag on the record. It’s sumptuous and kinetic. Similarly, 'Let Them Say' by Rogana Ottah & His Black Heroes Int may lack that heavy low end, but it more than makes up for it with energetic guitars and scatter shot drums. The instrumentation varies widely on 'No Wahala' (and in these styles) with light woodwinds offering accents to the languid 'Iziegbe (Ecassa No.70)'. The record shimmies to a close with MA Jaiyesimi & His Crescent Bros Band and the island flavored 'Mundiya Loju'. The guitars are tinny. They sound like they’re coming out of an AM radio, but that’s part of the track’s appeal. Speaking in general terms, 'No Wahala' has already emerged from the pack as one of my favorite collections of African-centric pop, funk and rock. It’s focused and quite lively, and while some of the nuances found in a few of the larger (and by virtue of that, longer) collections are burned off, these tracks are bright, brilliantly restored and fill the room with an enviable kind of energy. The recommendation here is not limited to fans of African-centric music fans either. This collection is well worth seeking out from the much broader perspective of outstanding pop, funk and rock recordings.

Track Listing:-
1 Oni Suru
2 Sickness
3 Black Precious Colour
4 Africa
5 Special Secret of Baby
6 Obonogbozu
7 Onuma Dimnobi
8 Kinuye
9 Let Them Say
10 Psychedelic Shoes
11 Iziegbe (Ekassa No. 70)
12 Mundiya Loju

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