NIGERIA 70: NOW WAHALA: HIGHLIFE, AFRO-FUNK AND  JUJU 1973-1987. 

Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk and Juju 1973-1987.

Label: Strut Records.

Twenty years ago, in 1999, Strut Records was founded and for tiger next four years, released a number of lovingly curated compilations. This included everything from breaks, funk, library music, old school hip hop, underground disco and Nigerian Afrobeat. By 2003, Strut Records were regarded as one of the UK’s top indie labels given the quality of music they released. Sadly, nothing lasts forever.

In 2003, Strut Records closed its doors and nothing was heard of the label until 2008 when the label made a welcome return. Since then, they’ve continued to released compilations that are of the highest quality, including the Nigeria 70 series.  It makes a welcome return with Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk and Juju 1973-1987 to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Strut Records. 

Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk and Juju 1973-1987 is the first instalment in the series since 2011, but compiler, collector and DJ Duncan Brooker is back with a compilation that features twelve slices of Afro-funk, juju and rare highlife from the seventies and early eighties. Many of these tracks have never been released outside of Nigeria. 

The compilation returns to Nigerian music’s glory days when established genres like highlife and juju were confined infused with elements of Western jazz, funk and soul a in the newly independent Nigeria. Compiler Duncan Brooker showcases some hugely talented Ukwuani musicians from the Delta State region. This includes guitarist Rogana Ottah and His Black Heroes Internation who contribute Let Them Say, while Onuma Dimnobi features  the International Brothers Band’s own brand of highlife. 

Very different is the soulful sound of Kinuye (Part I from Don Bruce and The Angels. He was known for memorable stage shows and music that had been heavily influenced by the greats of US R&B.

The compilation examines and explores the relationship between Nigeria and Benin’s music. Two example are Sir Victor Uwaifo and The Titbit Iziegbe (Ekassa No. 70) and Osayomore Joseph and The Creative 7 peerless mid-eighties ekassa jam Obonogbozu 

Other tracks worth of a mention include Sickness a 1979 lament on how all countries share troubles by Prince Nico Mbarga and Rocafil Jazz. Felixson Ngasia and The Survivals then fuse disco and funk on the powerful Black Precious Colour. However, one of the highlights is highlife star Etubom Rex Williams and His Nigerian Artistes who contribute the psych funk hidden gem Psychedelic Shoes. It’s a welcome addition to Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk and Juju 1973-1987 which makes  a welcome return after an eight year absence.

While absence often makes the heart grow fonder, compiler Duncan Brooker has chosen twelve tracks that make Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk and Juju 1973-1987 one of the best in this long running series. In fact, of all the compilations of Afrobeat, highlife and juju that have been released over the last few years, Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk and Juju 1973-1987 is one of the best and the perfect way for Strut Records to celebrate their twentieth anniversary.

Nigeria 70: No Wahala: Highlife, Afro-Funk and Juju 1973-1987.

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