Monday, February 11, 2013
Otchere Kojo Eyen and His Sound-Men: Itsekiri Funk Vol 11: Oniye Yone, 1982
Back from a long hiatus with this stone cold killer from Otchere Kojo Eyen. Hard vocal harmonies complement tight instrumentals (an all star band on this one) and at times you can even hear some seiously jazzy guitar bends. The B side is especially heavy. The leader's name, at least his first two names, sound Akan. The Akans are the plurality ethnic group in Ghana, hailing mostly from the Ashanti and Eastern Regions. Their cultural capital is Kumasi, the regional capital of Ashanti. Their language, Twi, which is spoken in many dialects across Ghana, has become something of a lingua franca there. However, this record is not in Twi. A Ghanaian friend of mine told me that Eyen is singing in Yoruba, which is spoken mostly in Nigeria and Benin; from the way he sings, my friend guessed that he grew up in Nigeria, not Ghana.
The album was recorded at Joromi Studio (called Joromi Sound Studio on the back of the record), which was Victor Uwaifo's studio in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria, founded in 1978. The studio shares its name with one of Uwaifo's early hits. According to Uwaifo, "Joromi in Benin mythology was a wrestler, a world champion who after conquering the whole world decided to go to hell and fight the Devil with seven heads." (NB: West African Christians often describe pre-Christian myths in terms of their relation to contemporary Christiantiy.) Although recorded in the 1980's and featuring some digital sounds on the A side in particular, this record has the warm, analog 70's sound that is so prevalent in much of Uwaifo's own catalogue. It's unclear whether the studio is still operating, but it seems to have lasted at least part way into the 90s.
Sunny: lead guitar
Lemmy Mba: keyboard
Sabato: jazz drum
Jerry Mosco: rhythm guitar
Otchere Kojo Eyen: vocals, bass, trumpet, conga
Dapo Awodeyi: engineer