I know some of y'all wondering why I haven't been posting the vintage Nigerian tunes lately, especially since there's so much stuff I promised I was gonna put up like a million years ago (the rest of the BLO discography, the remaining two Ofege albums, the Lijadu Sisters' Sunshine, Gbubemi Amas's Grill album, the Kiki Gyan story, etc).
I apologize for slacking on that, and I promise that I will get to it soon. I've been pretty busy lately, and can you believe that my developmentally delayed ass is still having trouble digitizing the records? sigh It's crazy... I bought a new pre-amp, switched from Final Vinyl to Audio Hijack Pro, even changed the damn cartridge and yet my recordings are still coming out all distorted and yucky-sounding. I'm really at wit's end at this point!
Fear not, though: I'm determined to lick the problem this weekend by hook or by crook, so (Jah willing!) we should be back back to our regularly scheduled programming this week. I want to work on improving the general quality of the accompanying articles, too. As I've said before, one of the most frustrating things about trying to write about Nigerian music is the lack of preexisting documentation of the subject. That's kinda the reason why I wanted to do it in the first place: just to offer some kind of substantial content for someone to find if they happened to Google "Jake Sollo" or "Felix Lebarty." But, y'know... I'm actually starting to question whether I'm really even qualified for the job.
I mean, the majority of the stuff I write here is pulled from memories of things I saw and heard when I was 8, 9 years old, or articles I read in the Sunday arts section of the Nigerian Concord or Lagos Weekend well over two decades ago or something. Every day I become more conscious of gaping holes in my knowledge and it drives me crazy. Just the other day I found some (minor) errors in one of my past posts and it upset me much more than it probably should have, but I'm a stickler for accurate information. I just need to do a gang of research, basically. And it's kind of hard to do it from where I am right now, but I've been working on lining up interviews with some of the Nigerian musicians from that era, so hopefully we'll be seeing more of that around here in the near future.
When I got back from Nigeria last year (come to think of it, this weekend makes it exactly one year. wow.) I was seriously thinking about writing a book about Nigerian music from the 1960s to the 1990s. Later, I talked to Obafunkie and learned that he had a similar idea and we kicked around the idea of collaborating. I guess it would be good to have a volume like that in existence, but I wonder who its audience would even be. Part of what makes books on music history worth reading is putting down the book, going to the record store, picking up the music you just read about and appreciating it in an enriched context. But most of this music has never been reissued and is virtually "lost" right now... Only a small cult knows of its existence. Which is why I guess it's important to continue raising awareness about it, I guess.
But I have to think about whether I'm going to continue posting full albums, though. Originally, I had flirted with the idea of essentially putting my entire record collection online (like a lot of the Brazilian bloggers seem to do), but we quickly settled into this Nigerian groove, so I figured we'd stick with that. But the truth is, I always felt a little uncomfortable with it on some level. One one hand, this was mostly music that was not only out of print, but was completely unavailable commercially, so it's not like we were messing with anybody's money by sharing the music here (and I'm definitely not making any paper from it).
On the other hand, I just don't feel 100% about participating in the free distribution of musicians' work without their consent. Confession time: When I stumbled upon BLO drummer Laolu Akins' daughter a while ago, I wanted to ask her for an interview with her father, but I chickened out because I felt somewhat embarrassed by the fact that I had posted his albums here. I wondered how he would feel about that, especially since he is a longtime advocate for artists' rights in Nigeria.
And then it becomes even more troublesome since I know for a fact that some of the musicians I write about here are actually suffering tremendous hardship today after being shafted by The Industry. Of course, it's not like their conditions would have been improved in any way if these records were left to molder in some leaky-ceilinged warehouse in Onitsha, so I tell myself that by getting the music out there, we increase the chances that someone might reissue it and make sure the artists receive some degree of fair remuneration for it.
(Were I not putting all my energy and resources into this movie business, I would probably be trying to start some kind of West African Blood and Fire Records. I guess Soundway is the closest thing to that right now, and they're doing a great job so far.)
I know the popular idea these days is that the forces of market and the winds of technology have decreed that the mores of the traditional record industry must die and all music must be free but I'm not completely sold on it. even though I download a boatload of music myself, I'm still kinda old school about intellectual property rights.
Anyway, I'm rambling more than I intended to. I just wanted to post some music right quick, this time the album Keep On Tryin' by the band called Cloud 7.
Cloud 7 were much beloved in the 1970s and 80s; I think they were one of the earliest reggae bands in Nigeria, though it seems they were less inspired by dready vibrations from Kingston than by mellow sounds from Peckham. Listening to them now, I can detect the strong influence of UK proto-lovers singers like Honey Boy, Winston Groovy and Ginger Williams (all of whom were insanely popular in Nigeria, by the way).
I'm aware that this music will probably not be to everyone's taste, gentle readers; in fact, I believe I myself described them in a previous post as "sucking." I always found lead singer Cliff David's lyrics to be meandering and prosaic, and the gently skanking, synth-laden riddims brings to mind collar-popping okoros with three buttons unbuttoned on their shirts, peacocking around in pointy white shoes and thinking they're the biggest bobos on the block. But at the same time, I remember fun-fille Saturday mornings spent cleaning the house as "Stop What You're Doing" played on the radio. And I'm cleaning the crib today and listening to this album and... I think I'm kinda getting into it!
So yeah, if nobody else feels me on this, I know that a lot of my peoples in Nigeria will probably appreciate it.
Download the album as a Zip file from Megaupload HERE or go HERE to DivShare where you can download either the Zip or preview and grab the tracks one by one (for my folks with slower connections or if DivShare is just on its usual bullshit).
Obviously that is not the Cloud 7 album pictured above... I forgot to scan the cover this morning, so that's just up there as a placeholder for now (That One World LP is pretty good, though).