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)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.
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
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:
1. Bazooka Bash
2. To Be Wise
4. Come Right Back
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!