The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970's Nigeria
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Audio CD, 12 Jul 2010
Vinyl, Box set, 26 Jul 2010
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The World Ends showcases a wave of guitar driven and psychedelic groups that sprung up in Nigeria during the early 1970s. Featuring 32 electrifying and funk-laden grooves, this is the sound of a generation attempting to pick up the pieces after the devastation of the Nigerian civil war.
Spread over 2 CDs and 2 triple gatefold LPs, this bumper collection is brimming with youthful exuberance, fuzzed out guitar and cosmic organ vibes and owes much to the psychedelic sounds of Jim Morrison, Santana, Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and James Brown.
As the summer of love was blossoming in London and San Francisco, Nigeria was imploding into civil war. Also known as the Biafra war of 1967, it was a grisly conflict taking over three million lives yet at the same time the country was being pulled apart there was a new world beginning.
The tracks featured represent a forgotten chapter in Nigeria’s musical history when the youth threw their varied morsels into the pot from hard rock to psychedelic soul when guitars were cherished instruments, symbolic of a new movement, when highlife and Afrobeat played second fiddle to ‘the beat’.
While it's pretty indisputable that Britain and the USA were, during the 1960s, the global leaders of rock music, there were countless nations across the world reacting to these innovations and mutations, often with terrific results. Nigeria, ravaged by civil war in the late 60s, was nevertheless a particularly glowing example of this as the next decade unfurled. While highlife–the jittery, up-tempo West African genre–had long been the dominant Nigerian music style, the influx of rock and funk from the West took root, and resulted in the hybrid fashioned on this two-CD compilation's 32 songs.
Although it might at least in part be attributable to rough, sometimes imprecise recording techniques, there's a genuinely thrilling rawness to numbers like Deiyo Deiyo by The Hykkers, who appear to be channelling the earthiest psychedelia on offer at the time. Other examples of this compilation's more psychedelic leanings are less abrasive–The Black Mirrors' The World Ends, from which the album takes its title, is perhaps helped (to Western ears) by an English-language (and English-sounding) vocal as well as some catchy, Doors-y organ. More prominent still is the influence of James Brown and his primary characteristics–the urgent, repeated commands and catchphrases on the mic; the elasticated groove heaven laid down by the musicians. Not that the Nigerian pioneers were slavish imitators–something like The Mebusas' Mr Bull Dog bears the hallmarks of the Godfather of Soul, but filtered through a grounding in highlife.
Recent years have seen a marked upswing in the unearthing and repackaging of old African records. It's something to be grateful for–while some of these cuts were smash hits back at home, most of us are unlikely to stumble upon copies today. There is, one supposes, a danger of overly fetishising the 'otherness' of African rock and funk combos, who after all just wanted to make a thrilling racket like any other aspiring band (and, in some cases here, entertain the Nigerian army, who sponsored their activity). The thrillingness of their racket transcends borders and continents, however, and provides a choice introduction to a world of rock and funk hidden to many.--Noel Gardner
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Top customer reviews
I am still digesting the music itself and there is far too much to comment on, but having listened to both discs three times each already in under 24 hours I can safely say that wild psychedlia and traditional african rhythms and style meld together fantastically well, making this a most definitely worthy addition to your collection!
These bands have a genuine feel for 60s psych/garage, and marry it with African rhythms and harmonies brilliantly.
Added to how Ethiopiques has brought us the marriage of African music with jazz grooves, it's another facet of 'world' music that's being opened by by some really dedicated record labels. This is a pretty much flawless compilation which is also wonderfully packaged, and makes the whole act of listening to it a real experience.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I had heard of two bands on this collection, the Funkees and the Lijadu Sisters, but had never actually heard anything by them, nor any of the other more obscure artists on this 2-CD set. As noted in the main review, the sound quality is not going to be mistaken for any audiophile recordings, but neither is it so rough that it detracts from the listening experience. I actually like rough, gritty recordings like these, exuding more rhythm and emotion than the majority of contemporary tunes.
Another plus when purchasing this 2-CD set is the thick booklet that comes with it; packed with information about the recording artists and the Nigerian music scene at the time. There are also many reproductions of the ultra cool record sleeves that once housed these songs. Another dynamite release from Soundway!
This music is the direct descendant of the psychedelic music that was prevalent in the U.S. and Britain (primarily) in the late 60's. Nigeria was in the grips of war at this time (1967), and the music known as "Highlife" was still very popular, but beginning to fade in popularity. But the generation of kids who grew up during and after this war, wanted something new to listen and dance to. The popular Nigerian groups were replaced with western-style artists like Elvis, THE BEATLES, THE ROLLING STONES, and THE YARDBIRDS, to name a few.
The music on these discs is a direct emulation of guitar-driven rock heard in the Western world. The rhythms were a combination of Highlife,traditional rock 'n' roll, and urban funk, with a combination of organ/horn/guitar/vocal leads. At times the guitars are fuzz-driven high intensity killers, or stinging leads, sounding similar to any number of guitar-orientated groups from the west. On this set the electric guitar, in all its glory, was king in most (if not all) these groups. Oftentimes there was a honking sax or organ in the mix, with dense Nigerian percussion/vocals filling in around everything else. But as it says in the notes-"the guitar was lean, loud, and sexy". This is Nigeria's experimentation and love of Western rock 'n' roll-i.e.the electric guitar.
In many ways, this was Nigeria's "Summer of Love",albeit a little late. This music is funky, exciting, guitar rock. The rhythms may at times, be slightly different (but are curiously captivating), but the lead guitars in all their screeching, fuzz-drenched glory are whats really important here. The vocals (some sung in their own tongue) add a bit of exoticism to the mix, but there are many tracks sung in English. You'll hear everything from SANTANA-styled lead guitar, to THE SHADOWS, to YARDBIRDS fuzz-filled leads, to a surf-influenced sound, to Pete Townshend-like vocals sung in English ("Blacky Joe"), to instrumentals ("Rough Rider","Ofege","Bullwalk"), to an almost TOWER OF POWER-like horn arrangement with lead guitar ("Oli Nkwu") that could fit in anywhere in the Western world, to most anything else that was popular at the time in the U.S. and Britain. And that's just on the first disc.
The second disc starts out with a Santana -style percussion sound and then segues into a fuzz-driven Carlos Santana lead guitar (("Babalawo"), with some Greg Rolie (early SANTANA) organ fills, with vocals sung in one of the several languages heard on this set. If this song doesn't get you moving-you're dead. For some prime U.S. style garage rock, listen to "The World Ends", a combination of cheesy organ similar to THE SEEDS, with a convincing garage-punk-attitude vocal (again in English), and you'll think you're listening to a track from the "Nuggets" collection from 1968. Another highlight is "Money That's What I Want" (in English), with a funky beat, manic organ solo, and shouted vocal in the best tradition of Western rock. "Somebody's Gotta Lose Or Win", with a SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE beat is another funky, dance floor mover. And so it goes. This disc is every bit as filled with glorious, sometimes funky, guitar-rock 'n' roll as the first disc.
For anyone who wants to hear what Western-style rock 'n' roll, from the late 60's, sounds like processed through another culture-this is the collection to purchase. These bands were not mere imitators, they took the music they heard and infused it with their own musical style(s), and came up with their own unique version of rock 'n' roll. And it works. This music will start your body to moving involuntarily, which is what good rock 'n' roll is all about. Give this set a listen and hear for yourself-it's that good.
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