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.