Album: Various artists

Lagos All Routes/Lagos Chop Up, HONEST JON'S
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The Independent Culture

Outside its country of origin, awareness of Nigerian popular music is largely confined to the muscular afrobeat of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and the more graceful, swaying sound of King Sunny Ade's juju music. As this excellent collection shows, they may have been the most visible exponents of their styles, but by no means the first. Fela served his apprenticeship in the band of Dr Victor Olaiya, whose "Omelebele" displays the creeping influence of US R&B into the Nigerian highlife style. Alongside the brassy highlife of Olaiyo and contemporaries like the Traveller's Lodge Atomic Eight, a guitar-based highlife style was developed in eastern Nigeria by such musicians as Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson and Sir Victor Uwaifo. The latter's "Joromi" boasts graceful guitar-picking, a remnant of the pervasive influence of the "palm-wine guitar music", widespread throughout West Africa in the postwar era. Similarly delicate guitar playing is found in juju music, though the offerings from Sir Shina Adewale and Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey & His Inter-Reformers Band reveal the growing influence of Fela's afrobeat and Western disco rhythms. Topped off with tranches of the region's yoruba talking-drum music, the collection offers vivid depictions of a country during a period of extraordinary musical ferment.

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