Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Lights... Camera...



I think the selection of this particular album was influenced by the fact that I hardly have time to post at all these days, so I deliberately chose a band I know next to nothing about so I wouldn't have to write too much about them!

Next to nothing, I said; here's the little I do know:

Aktion (sometimes known amongst fans as "The Actions") was an Eastern band based in Warri. Lemmy Faith was the group's leader and other members included Renny Pearl, Essien Akpabio and respected drummer Ben Alaka (who, curiously, is credited as a "guest" on this album).

An earlier incarnation of the band--under the name Action 13--released two singles in 1973: "Active Action" and "More Bread To The People".

Well, that's about all I know. Perhaps some of the veterans like Da Hurricane Man and Ehirim can further enlighten us on this band.

Update 1/18/08: And sure enough, Bro. Ehirim came through for us with some background on Aktion. I'll reprint the info here for those who don't read the comments:
Like you mentioned, Aktion, Action and Aktion 13 as known in some cases was a Warri-based band that played gigs all around the Eastside. Originally, the band was initiated in Calabar by the duo of Essien Akpabio and Lemmy Faith.

The band was resident at then famous spot in Warri called Lido Night Club and Restaurant where they entertained civil servants and off duty officers during happy hours known as "Afternoon Jump." During the festivities (Christmas and New Year holidays), the group embarked on a road trip playing gigs at college campuses, community centers and local villages to entertain Eastside students who were home for the holidays.

And of course, Ben Alaka who was the best drummer of that era was an in-session man but played more for Aktion when they were resident at Lido for the "Afternoon Jump" jam sessions. The band's early years between 1976 and 1978 was a blast which catapulted the group to the top during the 70s hippie era.

However, the band's success was shortlived when music of the era crossed over and the inability of band leader Lemmy Faith to compete with bands from the West resulting to music fans relocating to the West in search for better lives, and in some cases, academic pursuits elsewhere.

Ben Alaka still lives in Warri while Essien Akpabio relocated to his home base of Calabar. Lemmy Faith, I think, and as of the last time I heard about him was still producing.
Thanks, Ambrose!

AKTION - GROOVE THE FUNK (CLOVER, 1975, CXL 2001)

SIDE 1
1. Groove the Funk
2. Sugar Daddy
3. I Don't Have to Cry
4. My Baby

SIDE 2
1. I've Got To Hope For Tomorrow
2. Masquerade
3. I'm in Love
4. Tell Me Baby
5. Play With Me

Produced by Ben Okonkwo of Ben (Nig.) Ltd.
I had to leave off three songs because I couldn't get them to play smoothly even after repeated tries. And it was all the more frustrating because the record isn't really in bad condition, but Aba-based Clover Records had a tendency to press their releases on some of the thinnest, shittiest vinyl known to man, so even the slightest irregularity causes the needle to jump or stick.

Hope the surface noise on "Masquerade" isn't too distracting either, because that's one of the funkier tracks on the album!

33 comments:

Nordy said...

Can't wait to listen. I loved their tracks off the Flashback II album.

Thanks

Comb & Razor said...

hope you like it, Nordy!

(interesting blog, btw!)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the music - always enjoy reading your site ... I can't seem to access track one on side two ... Chris A - South Africa

Comb & Razor said...

hmmm... don't know what the problem might be, Chris.... just checked out that link and it's working fine!

try it again... if it still doesn't work for you, maybe i can email you the track or something.

Olavo di Txada said...

For discs like this, ever tried to increase the weight of the needle? I have sometimes succeeded using up to 3-4 grams..

Comb & Razor said...

Olavo--

yeah, i did fiddle with the weight, but you know... i think i could make it even *heavier*

i'll probably give it another shit over the weekend!

ehirim said...

Like you mentioned, Aktion, Action and Aktion 13 as known in some cases was a Warri-based band that played gigs all around the Eastside. Originally, the band was initiated in Calabar by the duo of Essien Akpabio and Lemmy Faith.

The band was resident at then famous spot in Warri called Lido Night Club and Restaurant where they entertained civil servants and off duty officers during happy hours known as "Afternoon Jump." During the festivities (Christmas and New Year holidays), the group embarked on a road trip playing gigs at college campuses, community centers and local villages to entertain Eastside students who were home for the holidays.

And of course, Ben Alaka who was the best drummer of that era was an in-session man but played more for Aktion when they were resident at Lido for the "Afternoon Jump" jam sessions. The band's early years between 1976 and 1978 was a blast which catapulted the group to the top during the 70s hippie era.

However, the band's success was shortlived when music of the era crossed over and the inability of band leader Lemmy Faith to compete with bands from the West resulting to music fans relocating to the West in search for better lives, and in some cases, academic pursuits elsewhere.

Ben Alaka still lives in Warri while Essien Akpabio relocated to his home base of Calabar. Lemmy Faith, I think, and as of the last time I heard about him was still producing.

You guys should start fishing out all the master tapes and in-session studio live recordings which would help us understand these 70s bands much, much better.

I will make more comments later.

Comb & Razor said...

wow! thanks a lot for the info, Ehirim... i knew i could count on you to come through!

do you think there are surviving master tapes and outtakes? i was under the impression that they had all been destroyed... but if they are out there, we definitely have to find them!

i'll probably look up Essien Akpabio next time i'm in Calabar, though... do you know where Lemmy Faith is based?

ehirim said...

I doubt if there are any 'surviving master tapes' left for the fact that most of the recording studios did not keep records when bought over by newer companies or in some cases when they went out of business. Some of them may still be around but one has to fish them out.

Another way is by conducting interviews with the folks who were around back then. I think Aba and Calabar would be a good source to start with since most of the LPs, if not all, can be found on CDs at Aba markets and beyond.

I'm not sure where Lemmy Faith is currently based. He's probably somewhere in Lagos. I'm not sure, though. When you breeze in to Calabar, try and get some facts from Essien Akpabio on the Aktion Lido Nite Club years, the master tapes, in-session live recordings and what happened during that era. That would be another good starting point.

Comb & Razor said...

yeah, the interview route is what i've been pursuing of late... i actually wanted to track some people down last time i was back home, but i just didn't have the time.

i think there are quite a few people who could be found around the Calabar area (The Doves, for instance) but Aba would definitely be even more rewarding.

i understand that The Apostles, Sweet Breeze and The Wings have all been reactivated recently, and One World is still playing in PH, so i hope to catch them all!

Da Hurricane Man said...

Hey. I just heard last night that Lemmy Faith died a few years ago. I also learnt one of their singers, known then as "Mohammed" has become a pastor. I will see if I can rumble up his phone no for you to have a chat with him.

Keep the blog going bro.

Comb & Razor said...

damn... sad to hear that about Lemmy. but if you are able to get Mohammed's number, please let me know!

speaking of which... i was just thinking about you like 10 minutes ago... i'll probably give you a call this weekend.

Jake Hellmountain said...

Thanks a lot! I haven't checked out your blog in a while because I've been having computer-problems at home and been mostly posting/using internet at work where I can't listen to anything. I'll try to listen through everything posted in the past couple of months.

Anyway, this Aktion-record is right up my alley-70's rock riffs with a fuzzed-out 60's garage-rock sound (which makes it even cooler), organs, heavy percussion and killer grooves. Thanks!

Comb & Razor said...

no probs, Jake... great to have you back!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to tell u this.Im essien akpabio's only child and he passed away one week and a half ago.I was searching for the album since its hard to find one for the funeral coming up at he's hometown on the 14th of march and there a wakekeeping in which Artist are going to play on the 13th. The venue is not calabar its Akwaibom, ukana ikot ntuen is the name of the village ,its the village of the current Akwa ibom state governor.I'll love to have a copy of the tape can i pls be mailed one.you can post the reply online.Thank you.

Comb & Razor said...

Anonymous--

email me directly at combrazor (at) yahoo dot com, okay?

Seal67 said...

Hi just a few words on Lemmy Faith and a couple of other members of this kicking Group. Late Lemmy was a good friend of mine back in Lagos in the late 90's after his return from the UK and we used to jam together alongside Renny and a few other Afro-Funk veterans like Emma China (Original Wings), Eddie Offeyi, Feladey- Headzfunk and a certain Emeka Aseme- The Aktions Keyboardist, now a Petroleum Engineer at the famous De Captains Club Veterans Jam at Ikeja in Lagos back then. Lemmy was a Hairdresser here in the UK before his return to Nigeria at the behest of his wealthey younger brother- Andy Nwani (a Computer mogul) who bought him a set of Instruments which he hired out for a living, he was an incredibly gentle and easy-going guy, bless his soul. I would disagree about "Mohammed" being the lead singer, the Mohammed being referred to is Mohammed Ahidjo lead singer of the Funkees, who is definitely not a Pastor, rather Chike Madu, the Funkees drummer is now a Pastor. Hope this is useful, dude your Blog is incomparable, can I ask are you the user Oronbaba on Youtube, if you are I don't think you know how important you are and if not you still are. More blessings!

Comb & Razor said...

much thanks for the compliments, Seal67 (yes, i am indeed oronbaba) and even more thanks for the information! you always drop incredible, precise jewels... i've got to talk to you some more, actually!

yeah, i recently discovered myself that Feladey was a member of Action 13 (not sure if he was in Aktion too, though)... don't know if that was before or after Headzfunk.

your observation about "Mohammed" makes a lot of sense, too... some of these stories get mixed up sometimes... even by those who participated. for instance, i tried to get some info about the Wings from Emma China, but some of the stories he told were actually about the Funkees (which he apparently was an early member of)!

again, thanks a lot!

Seal67 said...

Bro, I know Emma China very well and between you and I, I would take what he says with a pinch of salt, Emma never played with the Wings of Spud Nathan and his only involvement with the Funkees was as a packer, he was far too young anyway. This was confirmed to me by Sunny Akpan/Danny Ibe- the Funkees Bassist/Conga player respectively, whom I played with duringthe brief Funkees reunion of 2003 at the Jazz Cafe/Brighton Festival (I'll send you the photos). I am going to put you in touch with my friend and musical partner Mike Appoh, who played on Julie Cokers album, Onyeka's (basically everyone's album)and was a founding member of the Sunflowers and Moonrakers of Kaduna in the late 60's and early 70's. I sent him a link to your blog and he's a fan. Also I shall recommend you speak to Don Barber (the photographer and your fellow Calabarian) who is an accurate repository of knowledge on anything Afro-Funk circa 60's/70's.
I shall send you the info on Teemac as requested.

Seal67 said...

Just to clarify on Emma China, he played with the spin-off band "Original Wings" of the late 70's and early 80's not the Wings of Spud/Arinze/Manford and by the way please quote me when next you see Emma China. Also need to mention that Donald Duke was part of our jam at De Captain's Restaurant in the 90's.

Comb & Razor said...

seal67...

i cannot fully express how dazzled i am by your repository of (firsthand) information!

yes, please... any contacts, info, photos, etc. you can share would be well appreciated!

as for Emma China's role in the Wings: the only LP i own by the Spud Nathan version of the band is Kissing You So Hard... i don't have it in front of me right now, but i think i recall the credited drummer being Emma *something* (it was not "China," but i assumed he had a different nickname before that one... i'll check it!)

also: on the sleeve notes of the first album by Super Wings (Men of the People), it is said that Manford Best was actually the drummer in the original Wings (not to be confused with Original Wings!), though every other account--including the credits on Kissing--have him as rhythm guitarist!

any insight to offer here?

forego is my witness said...

I have the Aktion album "Celebration" which is most excellent afro-funk.

Comb & Razor said...

Oh yeah? I actually don't have that one...

Care to hook a brother up?

Anonymous said...

Do you have any of these afro lps:

founders 15 - co-operation

the apostles - s/t

survival - simmer down

I.Soumaoro et l'Eclipse de l' i.j.a. - LE TIOKO-TIOKO

rock town express - s/t

one world - victory

the wings - kissing you so hard

asiko rock group - s/t

Houston said...

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Anonymous said...

Hi Razor.
I live in NY and Manford Best and I are writting a book about the Wings and Music of his era. (By the way, he mentioaned to me that you got in touch with him and he provided you info and pictures). I am looking for more pictures of Spud Nathan. I am sure he showed you the group picture where Spud had one hand raised in surprise.Do you have any ideas how I can get more pictures of Spud Nathan. Manford Best's book will be out sometime next year. Thanks. Stanley (voodooway@aol.com)

Thestrom said...

Great post - excellent blog! After discovering Action 13's - Give more bread to the people this past weekend we're dying to get a hold of this Aktion LP. Your links seem to be down. Any chance you can re-up them or any idea where we can buy a reissue?

Beathearts crew

Comb & Razor said...

Thanks for checking in, Thestrom!

Yeah, links are down for now but they should be resurrected fairly soon. No reissue of the Aktion LP in the immediate offing, though!

Anonymous said...

did you get the celebration lp by aktion?

Comb & Razor said...

Yep!

Anonymous said...

is it more or less the same kind of funk with fuzz guitars? Reissue planned or.....?

Comb & Razor said...

Yeah... pretty much more of the same, expect harder and more focused. No complete reissue planned as of yet but a couple of tracks from it will probably show up somewhere....

Anonymous said...

ok.

http://www.cdandlp.com/product/2/114130536/aktion-celebration.html

http://collectorsfrenzy.com/Details.aspx?id=130522236777