Saturday, December 06, 2008

Best. Band name. Ever.

The Vitamin Explosions were a moderately popular local band in Calabar when I was a kid (though I think they might have actually been based in the nearby town of Uyo).

I don't remember that much about them except for their name, though because... Da, they're called THE VITAMIN EXPLOSIONS. A name like that really stood out among the litany of local luminaries one might hear listed on the radio: Kingsley Burstic Bassey, Basco Bassey, Bassey Archibong, Bassey Black... and the Vee-tameen Ex-PLO-shun!

(Another cool name I thought was "Darlington Duke.")

Like most of the Calabar club bands of the time, the Vitamin Explosions played guitar danceband highlife and fairly perfunctory pop numbers, but once in a while they could throw in a curveball like this spacey Efik afrobeat:

Sunny Risky & the Vitamin Explosions - "Atak Mfat Eyen"

From the 1982 LP with Sunny Risky, Ikpong Owo (I know, I know... It's misspelled on the cover).


John B. said...

I've got an album by P.T. Foo & his Jolly Band of Nigeria entitled "Pee Pee Special."

But nothing can top the Vitamin Eplosions!

Comb & Razor said...

haha... i hope you post that one of these days, JB!

John B. said...

I thought "Sunny Risky" sounded familiar, so I went through my collection. I found a 1988 LP by him (minus the Vitamin Explosions), "Eti Uwem," on the Itiabasco label (ITR 019), out of yes, Uyo.

Also turned up a 1976 LP by U.T. Isenem & The Black Mirrors (isn't that a contradiction in terms?), "Obio Cross River" on Anodisc ALPS 1007. This one labeled as in Ibibio.

Am I correct in thinking that Efik & Ibibio are basically dialects of the same language? What exactly are the differences?

Comb & Razor said...

great detective work, JB!

yeah... Efik and Ibibio are branches of the same dialect, with Efik being spoken mostly in Cross River State and Ibibio in Akwa Ibom (which was, of course, a part of Cross River until 1987).

so how IS this 1988 Sunny Risky LP? any good?

(and, oh yeah, "The Black Mirrors" is also a pretty awesome band name, btw!)

John B. said...

I just put the album on, only the second time I've played it since I got it in 1998, and it's not too bad; just your basic guitar highlife music as you say.

I also played the aforementioned "Pee Pee Special," (by an Ijaw band from 1986) and it's not too bad either. It's quite similar to mainstream Ghana guitar highlife from the same period.

Comb & Razor said...

hmmm... somehow i'm not surprised "Pee Pee Special" comes from an Ijaw band... something about the glee and unintentional(?) comicality of that title (and the band name) just makes me think of Port Harcourt.

that area produced quite a few interesting highlife bands that have been pretty much overlooked.

John B. said...

Yes, I have about 30 Ijaw highlife LPs. A couple years ago I made up a "Best of" compilation CD that I traded to another collector. I'm planning on posting it online soon. Wish I knew someone who could translate the lyrics!

Comb & Razor said...

i don't know a lot of Ijaw speakers... even most of the Ijaw people i know can't speak the language. pidgin is generally regarded as the lingua franca of that area!

calumbinho said...

cool track!

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Smekka said...

Awesome hit cosmic track! Like this and all your blog, big thanks!!!

Comb & Razor said...

Thanks, Smekka!