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The Shango Band were a crackshot military band revolving the damn gifted bass player Ojo Okeji and conguero Abayomi “Easy” Adio, who both defected from Fela Ransome-Kuti’s Koola Lobitos - famously making Fela cry at news of Okeji’s departure - to the army circa 1968 in search of regular wage packets, room, board, and a captive audience as Nigeria sank into a civil war with the secessionist Republic of Biafra. Playing almost exclusively to the Nigerian army, the band honed a deadly, soulful parallel to Fela and Tony Allen’s foundational Afrobeat sound which has been mercifully preserved in these recordings, which were made by EMI but never circulated beyond the army, to the extent they’re barely known in the rest of Nigeria. Which is remarkable considering the pure flair and swagger of their sound, coming with 16 minutes of the dopest Afrobeat psyche-soul hustle anchored by Okeji’s mind-blowing bass work in Position Pass Power - seriously, what on earth is he doing on that first solo?! - and stretching out more breezy, loose and easy horns on the downstroke of Women Are Great, or burning up with psych-soul fever in I Need Your Love, whilst the bonus 7” distills a more US-styled soul sound in Son of Thunder (‘Shango’ means thunder in Yoruba) and the tucked hustle of Alupandu-Gbe.
It has been a long held ambition for the label to work with a contemporary Ghanaian band who can push the country’s unique take on Afro-beat and highlife forward.
William Onyeabor was a Nigerian afro-funk, musician, singer and songwriter. Onyeabor's songs are often heavily rhythmic and synthesized, occasionally epic in scope, with lyrics decrying war.
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