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21 Jun 2017

The Funkees "Point Of No Return" 1974 Nigeria Afro Funk,Afro Beat

The Funkees "Point Of No Return" 1974 Nigeria Afro Funk,Afro Beat


Very rare1974 Afro-Funk Lp by Nigeria's The Funkees - "Point Of No Return". Excellent afro-funky organ, guitar and bass lines and containing the outstanding instrumental track: “Abraka”. Produced and recorded in Nigeria..............

Formed by Mohammed Ahidjo (vocal), Jake Sollo (guitarra, órgão e pianola), Harry Mosco (guitarra), Danny Heibs (baixo), Chyke Madu (bateria), Sonny Akpabio (congas) e Roli Paterson (bongôs), 
The Funkees is one of those African groups that, like the BLO, bet on afrobeat with a more rocky than jazzistic footprint, configuring a style today called prejudice African-rock (as if the geographical aspect could denote aesthetic traits ... soon these days ! ...) Originally founded as an army band and in 1972, based in London, Funkees released only two albums. But, like the aforementioned BLO, he developed a hybrid language in the short space of time, combining genres such as afrobeat, rock, calypso and other rhythms, but at the same time irreducible to them. "Point of no return," the band's first album, is the perfect example of how this combination, led by legendary Serrolean producer Akie Deen, can have a surprising effect. The beginning of the track already leaves the ear standing: a drum and percussion combo, trimmed at a pace closer to the afrobeat and punctuated by a riff on that traditional Anglo-Saxon guitar. Mohammed Ahidjo enters with a vigorous vocal, in the best (or worse, depends ...) style Ian Gillan, when the turn to a minor harmony takes place and the track is taken by guitar solos and much percussion until the end. Funkees music is worthy of the most attentive interest, and not only because it is a rock interpreted in the Nigerian way.

I wonder, however, about the significance of this recent revaluation of Nigerian, Congolese, etc. rock groups? For me, the contact with music from Africa brings, beyond diversity, the certainty that the traditionalist and folkloric aspect that this music evokes in certain publications and social contexts, as well as the mistaken habit of considering it in a generalist perspective ( As if there were only one Africa), nevertheless reveal a fierce and reluctant ethnocentrism. Even in a context sympathetic to these manifestations, one still perceives that benevolence, that "superior" curiosity, characteristic of attempts to think of culture in a non-ethnocentric way. An example of this is the "surprise" with which the innovations of Konono and Kasai Allstars are received, or even the idea that the sound system and numerous recording and reproduction techniques used in developed countries were created in Jamaica. But these issues are of no interest to the millions of "world music" -based sales sites that appear daily with their "new discoveries," often obtained from some collector who is financially capable of acquiring, in the world's pockets of poverty, an unbelievable range of Launches and rarities. They are the limitations of capital: on the one hand it leads to the notorious "growth", but on the other imposes the most severe logic of the mill, in which the juice is withdrawn, but the bagasse remains intact.

There is one other aspect: today, dub and afrobeat are represented by whites from rich, hyper-informed, super-tuned countries. Kokolo, Akoya, Nomo and other afrobeat groups are formed by Canadian and American whites, and even the already forgotten Vampire Weekend is said to be influenced by afro-rock ... All this goodwill towards postcolonial music as well as "post Of European and American music, does not conceal a reality as desperate as it is fruitful: since capital, for good and ill, is the last bastion of values ​​that have built the West, even those supposedly undesired as ethnocentrism, will be That the mere love of music, the love "disinterested" by the wonder provided by art, has the power to create a new mentality, a true and, above all, effective solidarity? Will the love of afrobeat make Europeans and Americans form economists less sensitive to market calls? Will Fela Kuti succeed in raising awareness in Europe and the United States of the tragedy of agricultural subsidies? (Bernardo Oliveira).......

Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Exponents 1973′ by The Funkees is the latest title on Soundway to mine the rich musical output of 60s and 70s Nigeria. For the five-year period this compilation spans The Funkees output crackled with dance floor fire.

Having featured on three of Soundway’s most popular titles, across the definitive Nigeria Special compilation series, we felt The Funkees output deserved closer inspection. Presented here (on CD, download & double gatefold LP) are 18 slices of funky Afro-rock grooves hand picked by Soundway’s Miles Cleret from a selection of the bands 45s and two long players.

In the early 1970s The Funkees were the number-one east Nigerian band and the only outfit to seriously challenge the popular Lagos based rock combos MonoMono and BLO. Stoking the dancefloor was the young band’s first priority and The Funkees were often playing through the night, seven days a week.
Formed at the tail end of the Nigerian civil war by Harry Mosco Agada (then a guitarist in Celestine Ukwu’s Music Royals) the band played for the army’s 12th Brigade in Aba and went through a rapid series of membership changes in search of the perfect line-up of players.

It wasn’t long before promoters in the UK came calling and The Funkees packed up their instruments and moved to London where they quickly established a fierce reputation on the live circuit. Here they recorded two seminal albums before finally breaking up in 1977 amidst some controversy. This collection features for the first time all of their Nigerian 45s alongside the best of their UK album material and is accompanied by a full interview with original member Sonny Akpan, who still lives in the capital............................

With digital content at our fingertips, reissued albums seem almost unnecessary, or a way to hopefully cash in as much as a label can on content that people can find online for free and, often in the case of out-of-print material, without anyone taking much notice. However, the point of the reissue has, in light of digital democracy, changed. It’s not just about giving us old content again, it’s about setting it in context, and at its best it’s about separating out what deserves to be celebrated again. If blogs deal often deal in obscurity for obscurity’s sake, the best reissues seek to make the obscure popular, more appreciated. It’s one of a few ways we have left to gatekeep the glut of music all too easily available to us.

Soundway Records has proven to be one of the great gatekeepers of the past 10 years or so. Though they explore other cultures and music, they have been a particularly strong shining light in African music and, more specifically, in music from Nigeria. Their Nigeria Special series has been downright revelatory, digging into a time and place—Nigeria in the late-‘60s and ‘70s—that popular thought associates with one sound (afro-beat) and one performer (Fela Kuti) to expand and complicate our understanding of it, and to highlight other amazing contemporaries of Kuti. Since the Nigeria Special series, Soundway has taken their focus one step further, crafting reissues of works by single artists. Works like their Monomono/Joni Haastrup reissues or their re-release of the Black Goddess soundtrack have helped us dig deeper into corners of Nigerian music not often explored, and has made the understanding of the region’s music and culture richer.

Now Soundway returns with another of these focused collections, Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria’s Afro Rock Experiments 1973-1977, which shines a light on Afro-rock Nigerian band the Funkees. The Funkees were featured as part of the Nigeria Special series, but here we get to dig deeper into their catalog. In it we find a fiery band with some serious chops. If Fela Kuti’s music got big and confrontational, spreading out on giant horn sections, the Funkees are a surgically lean counterpoint, a band every bit as energetic but much more contained in their attack. The results are unique and arresting, showing a tighter rock approach to the wide-open sound of Afro-beat and Afro-funk.

The band has the driving percussion and bracing group vocals you might expect, but their sound is truly theirs. A song like “Akpankoro” drives forward on a sweaty thump, but it’s the jagged riffs—a brittle guitar braced by a skronky organ—that make the song so immediate and eccentric and beautiful. Elsewhere “Point of No Return” coasts on a deep bass, but organ and heavily wah-pedaled guitar weave tangled circles around it. The excellent “Dancing Time” offers no pretense to be more than it claims—a dancing song—but though it brings in horns, it’s the strange organ vamping in the middle of the song that will catch your ear.

The Funkees were, well, pretty damn funky, and Dancing Time proves this again and again, from the charged shuffle of “Acid Rock” to the soul rundown of “Baby I Need You”. What makes them distinct, though, are those strange details that break up the smooth groove of these songs—the seemingly improvised organ fill, the unruly guitar solo, anything to break up the flow of the song. It’s not to stop you dancing, necessarily, but more to confront you in a subtle way, to bring you back to the intention of the song, the freedom it’s representing, the freedom it’s striving for. The band can stretch out and explore, as they do on longer tracks like “Akula Owa Onyeara”, but they are at their most innovative and singular when they work within tighter constraints. They can do in three minutes what many of their contemporaries needed 10 to do.

It’s great to see the variety of sound the Funkees achieved, but how they evolved over time remains a bit murky on Dancing Time. The collection comprises highlights from various 7-inches released in Nigeria and two full-length records—1974’s Point of No Return and 1976’s Now I’m A Man—released in the UK. It was in the UK that the Funkees achieved their greatest success, crafting great records and selling out shows, but the collection here isn’t chronological, so it’s hard to see the road they took to get there. What you get in the trade off is a well sequenced collection, and songs that certainly stand on their own, but the timeline of the band, how exactly they grew, doesn’t quite come across. It’s a small complaint, though, for such a strong set, and in the end the Funkees sound like another great mid-‘70s Nigerian band we should pay more attention to, and once again Soundway Records has shown it should be the one standing at that gate, letting out only the things we need to hear. Because, in the end, those things—including Dancing Time—also end up being the things we want to hear.....pop matters.....................

A1 Point Of No Return
A2 Abraka
A3 Ole
B1 Dancing In The Nude
B2 Life
B3 I Can't Be Satisfied

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





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