They'd roped us in for a bunch of different shows (they seriously couldn't get over the fact that a bunch of guys from Australia playing afro-beat had come to Lagos and were actually pretty proud of it. Which was cool) so the next morning we were back to be guests on a Mornings With Bert Newton style show where we sat indulged in awkward, earnest conversation about the awesomeness of both ourselves and Nigeria. We were also interviewed for a travel program in which Zvi was somewhat coerced into proposing marriage to his lady-friend, which I have heard very little (read: nothing) about since.
But anyway I digress... it was after this that we decided to go find some records so we headed to a shopping area we had heard mentioned as a place we could find a little something. But an hour or so of fruitless wandering saw our spirits dipping so we stopped across from a underpass/bus stop to discuss our next move. A man came out of a car yard saying he had seen us on TV and asked us what we were doing wandering around in this dodgy area. When we told him we were chasing old records he immediately lead us across the road, under the bridge and deep into a wooden, shanty town area.
Now I don't know if you have heard about the reputation of Nigerian's as being the kings of the scammers (something they seem to be quite proud of) but it's a reputation
that exists for good reason. The always are trying to scam you but if you call them on it they will always just give you a can't-blame-a-kid-for-trying-smile, it's ingrained in them I swear but it's actually a bit funny when you're there. In fact once I was at an Internet cafe and looked over the shoulders of the men either side of me and they were BOTH actually sending out mass Nigerian bank scam emails. It was so hard not to laugh out loud.
So as we negotiated this series of tiny alleyways, in the back of my mind I began considering this and the fact that we were not only following a Nigerian but a secondhand car salesman at that, into god knows where and possibly to our doom. But no we arrive at our destination and much to my joy it is a little shack filled floor to wall with Nigerian recordings, mostly highlife but plenty of the good stuff too.
OG Fela's for all
Unfortunately it was a business that would record any LP they had and give it to you on a cassette tape but the owner said we could purchase any record we found doubles of. We started on the Fela section (about 100 records and pretty much any Fela record I had ever seen) where we got about 8 original pressings, including a Zombie for me. I also dug up
a Funkees LP, the Bunzu Soundz, a Mebusas and few others making it a pretty successful mission. The guys who ran the store were great too, I asked them a few questions about different records and artists and they were happy to answer, in fact one of them was related (I can't remember how) to 'Prince' Joni Haastrap from Monomono. As a result he wouldn't sell me any of their records though, dammit. Of course the hardest part was trying to negotiate an appropriate price whilst trying not to look too excited. These are a couple of the records I found in there
Ofege were a group of teenagers playing in and around Lagos from the early to mid 70's. Taken from the 'Try And Love' LP, this track like much of their work showcases some sublime funky/psych guitar work from Felix Inneh and some incredible nearly-off- kilter timing. According to the guy who sold it to me the name 'Ofege' is Lagos slang meaning 'telling people hey fuck you and doing what you want'. Apparently this record was recorded when they were still in school as well, which is pretty amazing considering the maturity of the sound. You can cop some of their other work on Soundway, check out the killer 'Nigeria Special' comps in particular.
How can you not want a record with this cover? So many reasons to dig it. For a start it's called Atomic Bomb. And check the awesome suit, headphones and the little dance he's busting. Not to mention the seven microphones pointed at the man (really, who needs seven mic's?). The first few bars of the song are a touch concerning, sounding a like something left off the soundtrack to Napoleon Dynamite but then it kicks into one of those killer afro grooves, asking the guitarist to sit on that one little line for 8 or 10 minutes turning it into trancey, spacey slice of magic. The organ is bordering on cheesy but William pulls it off beautifully and I really dig how lo-fi the whole album is. He studied cinema in Russia before coming back to start his record label (hence the name Wilfilms, geddit?) and according to what info I could find he now runs his own flour mill. Sounds like a hell of a life!
In the next couple of weeks I'll post up a couple of mixes of stuff I found over there as well as other bits and pieces so stay tuned kids... and don't forget to check out my radio show. Peace!