Tuesday, June 09, 2009

It came from the 80s...

Just a few quick picks today, folks... A random selection of rare pop tracks from the 1980s.

Saint Emmy - "Something Real, Something Good"

Saint Emmy started his career playing with Celestine Ukwu's Philosophers and other bands before going solo in the mid-70s. While he never really achieved major stardom on a national level, he remained a favorite in Eastern Nigeria, particularly in the fertile music scene of Enugu which included luminaries such as Nelly Uchendu, William Onyeabor and Goddy "Mr. Hygrades" Oku. This dubby track from his 1984 LP Good Good Love was recorded at Oku's Godiac Studio, backed by the Comrades Rock Group of Enugu.

Akin Nathan and the Jubilees - "Oja Ni K'Aiye"

Akin Nathan was a seasoned session saxophonist who featured on several albums but is chiefly known for his tenure with Sonny Okosuns' Ozziddi during the group's most productive period in the 70s and 80s. Nathan's "Jubilees" on this 1980 solo outing include drummer Moses "Mosco" Egbe, guitarist Nelson Tackie, keyboard player Johnnie Woode Olimah and bassist Vincent Toko--all fellow members of Ozziddi.

Robo Arigo - "Them Crazy"

Robo Arigo's Sexy Thing album is in my opinion one of the rarest and most rewarding funk LPs of the 1980s. I like the rough and demo-ish quality of it, with his vocals mixed down low throughout to showcase his funky chops. The former Pogo Ltd. multi-instrumentalist went on to establish himself as an Nkono Teles-style super-producer with his Robbosoneex Music Company in Benin.

Racheal Jerry I. and Her Golden Voice '82 - "I Want To Be a Star"

There's a certain earnestness and naivete to Racheal Jerry I.'s "I Want To Be a Star" that I find quite charming. The bio on her album sleeve recounts her struggle to make it in the music business through disappointment and exploitation before finally realizing the dream of cutting an album in Victor Uwaifo's Joromi Recording Studio, accompanied by his Titibiti Kings!

Racheal never really became a star, but her Close to Me was supposedly the first LP produced by a female artiste from Rivers State... so there's that.

Donaldson Maduh Jr. - "Pretty Julie"

You might have heard this one on the last guest session I did over at Boogieheads. I call records like this "Dizzy K as genre"--high-pitched male singers over Afro-electro-disco tracks in the style of popular 80s star Dizzy K. Falola. The name is probably a bit of a misnomer as there were some common denominators to the style: most of these records were either produced by Dizzy K. producer Tony Okoroji, or featured multi-instrumentalist Nkono Teles, who played on most of Dizzy's records. Donaldson's 1986 record was actually produced by part-time Doves member Chuck Lygomm (who also played the guitars, Rhodes and synths) though Okoroji is thanked on the sleeve for "encouragement" and Dizzy K. himself contributes backing vocals.

And finally, another cut in a semi-Dizzy K. mold...

Jombo - "Squeeze Me"

Gorgeous electro-boogie production by Nkono Teles. The singing is pretty dreadful of course, but you got a lot of that in the "private label" period of the 1980s. If the 1960s and 70s were the era of the professional musician and the big, seemingly impenetrable record companies, the 80s were a time when every youth wanted to make a record and if you could beg, borrow or steal enough money you didn't have to worry whether you had the talent or style to impress the suits at the big companies. You just made the trip to Lagos, Enugu or Onitsha and hooked up with a studio wizard like Teles, Jake Sollo or Sol "Tula" Owen, you booked your studio session, they cooked up some hot tracks for you and you did your awkward best over them in the time allotted. You pressed the record up yourself under your own banner, took it back home and got some regional radio and TV play. You got to be a local champion or a big shot at your school for a few months and then faded back into obscurity until twenty-some years later when some blogger cast a hazy spotlight on you once more. Maybe you can't exactly call it a career, but it's... something.


symbolkid said...

i'm really enjoy those catchy tunes you're posting! thank you very much.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff man, keep on posting!

Dan said...

long time reader, first time commenter. LOVE this selection... more in this vein please! cheers, from London.

Comb & Razor said...

Thanks for commenting, Dan!

It has been a little while since I've posted this kind of straight pop music, since I've been so much into the highlife and stuff lately... There will definitely be more to come!

John B. said...

Great stuff! It's like "Flashback Vol. 3."

Comb & Razor said...

Ha! I've heard that Flashback Vol. 3 is actually in production!

Anonymous said...

This is crazy - I stumbled on your blog while searching for Felix Lebarty and I am amazed at the stuff here.

Used to think I knew everything about Naija music industry back in the day but Comb&Razor got me beat bad. You must have been an inside insider.

Terrific stuff. Keep it on. The Jake Sollo - Nile Rogers comparison is spot on.

Jude in Seattle.

Comb & Razor said...

I'm far from an "inside insider," Jude... I was still in primary school when most of this stuff was released! But I'm always down to learn more, so if you happen to have any insight, memories, behind-the-scenes gossip or other information, why don't you email me and share it?

Thanks for commenting!

Bongo Man said...

Thank you so much for your fantastic blog, it is such an amazing source of inspiration!!! Please don't stop.

Racheal Jerry I. and Robo Arigo tracks are super good! Any idea where I could hear more music by these artists? Could you maybe post more tracks by them at some point?

Thanks again for the music.

Bongo Man said...

Oh! Also! I included the track in this mix http://www.rbdx.com/?p=76 - thought you might be interested.

1. University of Ghana Chorus - “Legon Flutes”
2. Louis Wasson et les Irenee Boy’s du Cordon Rouge de Yaounde - “Festival Soukous”
3. Dizzy K - “Sweet Music” (1984)
4. Nana Aboagye Da-Costa - “Medaakye Hemaa” (1991)
5. Racheal Jerry I. and Her Golden Voice ‘82 - “I want to be a star”
6. Grace Jackson E & The Galaxy - “I’m gonna get you” (1979)
7. “Bomboro” (Music of Cameroon - The Fulani of the North, 1976)
8. Orchestre Bella-Bella - “Zamba” (1976)
9. Orchestre Kiam - “Yoyowe” (1975)
10. Mr Lee - “Miss Mavis” (198?)
11. Kasambwe Band - “Aids, watch your step” (1992)

best wishes

boxengo said...

i think jombo 'pure pleasure' is one of the sleeper lps from nigeria that will come into its own, as the whole lp holds up so well as a unit. and i think the vocals are great, being a new wave fan from back in the day. keep up the great work, uchenna!

Comb & Razor said...

Good to hear from you, man!

I actually like the vocals on Jombo myself, but I understand why they'd probably come off as grating under most conventional terms... It's an acquired taste, I guess!

Miksmaster Luguber said...

Ona Ni K'Aiye literarily begs for a House remix.. or wait...I'd already consider it House

Anonymous said...

Robo Arigo full LP: http://m-u-s-i-c-c-i-t-y.blogspot.com/2010/06/robo-arigo-sexy-thing.html

eightiesarcadeboy said...

I am absolutely mad for these grooves! literaly made my day!!
any chance of WAV files or 320kbps of them? i realy want a high quality rip to DJ with, mainly "Them Crazy" & "Pretty Julie"

Comb & Razor said...

I'll work on that, eightiesarcadeboy...

Calvin said...

Grrrreat post.. it would be awesome if someone could hook me up with this jombo album. I'd love to hear the rest of it

Comb & Razor said...

email me.

andrew said...

Heard "Squuze Me" on a playlist Connan Mockasin guest-curated for a UK website the other day. Like it quite a bit, but cannot find the other album tracks for download anywhere! Anyone know where I might find them?

Andrew in Atlanta