April 04, 2009

Psychedelic Funky Afro-Rock from Nigeria: Ofege - Try and Love (1973)

Ofege's debut album from 1973 is now re-issued on cd & vinyl by Academy Annex, so go out and get your copy of this psychedelic afro-rock fest! You might have heard them already on Soundway's Nigeria Rock Special (with the tune Adieu from their second album), Nigeria's most famous student band in the first half of the seventies recorded two wonderfull albums, which both sold pretty well. Ofege (local slang for describing an act of defiance) recorded their debut when they were still in high school (aged 15-17) and the 5-piece band consisted of Melvin Ukachi (vocals), Paul Alade (bass & vocals), Felix Inneh (Guitar & vocals), Mlke Meme (drums & vocals) and Dapo Olumide (keyboard). The guitar tracks were dubbed in the studio by Berkley Jones, guitar player for psych afro-rock legend Blo (check out the Afrostrut release Blo: Phases 1972-1982) and production was done by Odion Iruoje. Sweet harmonies are combined with psychedelic guitars and afrobeat drumming, with Melvin Ukachi being the principle songwriter. I must admit that at first I didn't like the vocals too much, but after a few more spins, the record started to show his strength. And by now, the lamenting and youthfull voice of Melvin tends to hypnotize me. After Try and Love, the somewhat more polished sounding Last of Origins (synth was added in London) was released in 1975. Two more albums were recorded in the latter half of the seventies: Higher Plane Breeze (1977) and How Do You Feel (1978). Check their myspace for soundsamples.
Tracklist: Nobody Falls, Whizzy Llabo, Gbe mi Lo, Try and Love, It's Not Easy, Ofege, You Say No, Lead Me On.
The Academy Annex label (based in a Brooklyn recordshop) is gonna release 2 more Nigerian gems this spring: SJOB Movements with A Move In The Right Direction and The Mebusas' Blood Brothers.