Various Artists: Nigeria 70: Sweet Times: Afro Funk, Highlife & Juju from 1970s Lagos

Various Artists: Nigeria 70: Sweet Times: Afro Funk, Highlife & Juju from 1970s Lagos
Strut Records has taken it upon itself to educate the Western world on African music throughout the 1970s. They have done this by releasing albums like a compilation of Mulatu Astatke work from 1965-1975, the Next Stop…Soweto series of compilations, and the Afro-Rock Vol. 1 compilation. One of their most well known series is Nigeria 70 which seeks to expose the guitar-based music of the 1970s emanating from Nigeria. The third compilation in the series is Sweet Times: Afro Funk, Highlife & Juju from 1970s Lagos which focuses on some of the deeper fusions happening across the country during the 1970s as traditional guitar highlife blended with jazz and funk.
The result of the blending of sounds is something that is both unique and oddly familiar to western ears. Western music and culture was having some effect on Nigeria in the 1970s and some of that comes out in their music. I listen to Moneyman and the Super 5 International’s “Life” and it is impossible not to hear the Harry Belafonte comparisons even though the track was being recorded half a world away from the calypso movement.
Other songs incorporate more western influences like Tunde Mabadu’s “Viva Disco” whose integration of a disco beat into the traditional noodling guitar creates an entirely new sound. While Soki Ohale’s Uzzi integrates funk into their sound on “Bisi’s Beat” and creates something that is reminiscent of Booker T. & the MGs with vocals.
The Nigeria 70 compilations are important documents rescuing songs that might otherwise be wiped out of existence. Sweet Times is no different; it might be the most western friendly of the series and is an interesting cultural study to see how western music affected African culture in the 70s.
Rating: 8.0/10
MP3: Moneyman And The Super 5 International “Life”
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