Friday, November 16, 2007

H.P.B. = "Has played better" (Ofege, Part 3)

So here's the situation: Higher Plane Breeze is my favorite Ofege album.

It also happens to be the one Ofege album that I own only one copy of, and whoever owned that copy before me must have loved it as much as I do--or more--because the surface of that bad boy is worn smooth as glass. When I play it, I have to tape a nickel's worth of pennies to the cartridge to keep the needle from skittering across the platter like an elephant on ice skates, clumsily grasping for purchase where there is none.

I was able to acquire two additional copies of this record a few years ago, but some jerk absconded with them (along with a suitcase full of other records) and promptly disappeared into the recesses of Elephant & Castle. (I'm still trying to track down the asshole.) Since then, I've been trying to acquire a good copy, but it's pretty pricey on the collectors' market. I remain on the hunt, though!

In the meantime, I reached out to a couple of record collector types who I know have the album--and who I'm pretty certain download music with abandon from this blog--and begged 'em for a rip. Of course they demurred. A lot of record collectors really hate sharing because if the music gets out to too many people, it dilutes the specialness of their assiduously cultivated collections. I don't get it. I mean, I understand the logic but I just don't get it. Whatever, though.

So yeah, since I promised, I just went ahead and ripped my crappy copy. I dunno if the quality is good enough to play in a club or on a radio show, but I just wanted to give those of you who haven't heard it a chance to check it out.

Originally, I cleaned up almost all the "frying akara" crackle and pop, but it ended up taking part of the drums with it, so I had to put a lot of it back in. (Even now, if you listen closely you can hear that the drums are slightly clipped.) Also, there are a couple of mildly distracting skips on "H.P.B." and "Our People" (my two favorite songs on the album!) but that sort of thing will not kill us, will it?

OFEGE - HIGHER PLANE BREEZE (Polydor, 1977, POLP015)

Paul Alade - Bass guitar
Melvin Noks - Lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Mike Meme - Drums, percussions & conga
Soga Benson - Lead guitar
Robert Bailey - Keyboards
Kiki Gyan - Keyboard synthesizer on "Contraband"
Miranda (English Rose) - Strings on "Come Right Back"

All songs composed & arranged by Ofege
Produced by Des Majex
Melvin was kind enough to identify the band members for me. They are, left to right: Melvin Noks, Soga Benson, Dapo Olumide (squatting), Paul Alade, Mike Meme.

You know, I just noticed that despite his prominent placement on the cover, keyboardist Dapo Olumide isn't credited with any musical contribution on the album. In his stead we have Robert Bailey (formerly of Osibisa) and oddly enough, Kiki Gyan, who had replaced Bailey in Osibisa five years earlier. Actually, Melvin kind of suggested that Ofege was, at the heart of it, the trio of himself, Paul Alade and Mike Meme (who appears to have been the primary musical visionary). Soga Benson (who was a member of the St. Gregs rock band Grotto) was pretty much a session player and Dapo... Well, it looks like he was sort of on-and-off, hanging around mostly for the poontang.

(I had always heard that one of the members of Ofege was a prominent pilot now. Turns out that the current manager of Aero Contractors, Nigeria is one Captain Dapo Olumide.)

Some other info I might need to correct: I said earlier that Try and Love and Last of the Origins were recorded during the band's final year at St. Gregory's College and that Higher Plane Breeze was might have been recorded while they were attending the University of Lagos. Melvin tells me this is not so. None of them went to UniLag (most of them went to England and Germany for university) and Higher Plane Breeze was recorded right after they graduated from high school.

Also, I previously stated that Try and Love and Last of the Origins were released in 1973 and 1974 respectively. I have to admit that I picked up that bit of info because it was stated as such on many other websites and I assumed they had been able to confirm somehow because the date of release is not printed anywhere on the labels or jackets of those two records.

For the record: Melvin insists that Ofege was formed in 1973 and the first album was not recorded until 1974 (when they were in Form Four) and the second one in 1975. I'm gonna go back and edit that in the old posts just so as not to perpetuate wrong info.

Anyway, I'll try to confirm all this stuff when I do the official interview.

UPDATE 11/17/07: WE HAVE A CLEAN RIP OF THE ALBUM NOW!!!

Get the Zip > HERE < or track-by-track:

SIDE A

1. Bazooka Bash
2. To Be Wise
3. Contraband
4. Come Right Back

SIDE B

1. H.P.B.
2. Our People
3. Majic Music
4. It's All Over

It's reassuring to know that there's good people out there who will hook up a brother in need... A million thanks to Calumbinho and Zim. I owe you guys!

21 comments:

calumbinho said...

Hey, I got a reasonable rip of that album! I would be delighted to give it to you. Use soulseek?

Comb & Razor said...

you are a soul savior, calumbinho!

unfortunately, i'm a Mac user so Soulseek is off limits to me.

can you email me? combrazor (at) yahoo dot com

i appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Much as I have a severe case of nigerian "downs syndrome", you're right. We (or at min. I) don't need this disc, side 1 or 2. But it is the thought that counts. Thank you for all the other posted loot, which I am greatly enjoying, Bob Ohiri for ex. on max rotation.

A fan.

Comb & Razor said...

LOL

have no fear, Anonymous... help is on the way!

check back later today and we should have a cleaner rip up in its place!

jon said...

Great to have that album to go with 'Try and Love', thanks.
seeing what even a rough condition Ofege album fetches of ebay is an eye opener!
Jon

Anonymous said...

Yeah, And there's a lot of people that owe comb & razor!!! Thanks for this.

vincent the soul chef said...

Heard bunches about this one, looking forward to hearing it for sure. Thanks for the share, and also for joining in on the fun with the Thanksgiving post. The turnout so far has been phenomenal!

Peace and blessings.

Comb & Razor said...

believe me, Vincent... it was quite an honor to participate!

i kept wanting to bring more stuff, but i never got around to it... but it looks like the table is not lacking for any delectable treats as it is!

dinner is served!

universoulproductions said...

Can you repost or send me that album please?

SCHWARZBUCH said...

or maybe you can post your favorite song from this album?
i heard there is some great moog or rhodes parts on it and loved the two posts from W.Onyeabor,thanks

Comb & Razor said...

good idea, SCHWARZBUCH...

i think i will post my fave 2 or 3 songs from the album later on... probably tomorrow or the day after. so check back!

Anonymous said...

hi,mr.comb&razor.

Anonymous said...

hello do you know if Melvin "Karchi" Noks also has a solo lp under the name Melvin Ukachi ? I have this record from 1981 that has title Evolution (Bring Back The Ofege Beat)

Comb & Razor said...

yes... Melvin Noks released 2 solo's album under the name Melvin Ukachi: Evolution (Bring Back The Ofege Beat) on EMI in (i believe) 1982 and 1984's Ofege As One on Chris Robins Sound.

Leo said...

"Last Of The Origins" is my favorite Ofege album--every track on that album is a joy to listen to. Of course I love "Try and Love" very much. Until I read your blog though, I had no idea that the band had two other albums (I tried to download them but the links have expired). I am, however, aware that Melvin Ukachi released two albums as a solo artist. These guys were/are too talented to remain inactive. They should have remained out there and possibly become Nigeria's version of ageless rockers, like The Rollingstones.

Thank you for this memory, Uche. You continue to amaze me.
Leoadiele@aol.com

teb said...

ol' boy,

me ah no fit download d ting from dat ya link o! weytin put plantain inside moi moi? das how i been reach one oda site like dat, im too no fit download. abi *dem* dey follow ofege downloads for internet??? na wah o!

ol' boy, try make u see why dis ya dis-ting no dey work.

meanwhile, tank u for ya efforts, sha.

Comb & Razor said...

email me at combrazor at yahoo dot com.

Anonymous said...

soundfiles have disappeared ... can you upload again? try to find out whether it's worth to add this album to the Funk Lexicon. my email = p dot wermelinger at bluewin dot ch , thanks Peter

daemonsquire said...

WAAAH! All the anticipation! That bad-ass record cover! And then: no more files up?!? Boo! Well, anyway, you've talked up a good story. I've been surfing 'round the webs, trying to find more out about this Ofege Try and Love album I'd recently downloaded, and you've compiled quite the treasure trove, here. Been good reading. Hope one day I can find more from this crew. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Awesome post - but no links working :( Could you please reupload? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The Ofege Band was way ahead of their time. Pity they did not stay on as a band. They were in St Gregorys Obalende while we were at Methodist Boys High School both in Lagos in the 70s. Their music rocks!