Sunday, December 14, 2008

Something to Listen to While Eating a Puu-Puu Platter




Uchenna over at With Comb and Razor posts a song by Uyo-based band Sunny Risky and the Vitamin Explosions, which he says is the "Best. Band Name. Ever."

I agree, that's a pretty awesome appellation. In fact, the only band name that I can think of that comes close is Brother Charlly Computer and The Gloria Kings.

Which got me to thinking about peculiar and/or unintentionally humorous band names and album titles, including the one at the top of this post, Pee Pee Special, by P.T. Foo and His Jolly Band of Nigeria (Sir Dolu Records SDR 002, 1986). Mr. Foo (Peanock Timibi) is an Ijaw musician from Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta, which has been the scene of much unrest in recent years.

Ijaw highlife music, called Awigiri, is almost completely unknown outside of Nigeria, but shares the sweet-and-sour vocal quality of its Ghanaian counterpart. I plan to devote a future post to a number of musicians from this area of Nigeria. Here's a tune from the album:

P.T. Foo & his Jolly Band of Nigeria - Tunisa Ebi Na Meiye

I will confess that I have listened to the records featured in this post maybe once in the ten or twelve years since Priscilla and I feretted them out of a used-records store in Ajegunle, the "Eastern" ghetto of Lagos. The musicians here are not well-known, even in Nigeria, nor even the most professional. What they lack in polish, though, they more than make up for in sheer, sloppy exuberance. They may be "no-hit wonders" but they're going to make the most of it!

When Uchenna mentioned Sunny Risky in the aforementioned post, I thought the name sounded familiar, so I dug through my collection and came up with another album by him, although the Vitamin Explosions aren't mentioned on the sleeve. It's 1988's Eti Uwem (Itiabasco ITRLP 019). The title track is a lively number in the Osadebe vein with some inspired saxophone work:

Sunny Risky - Eti Uwem



The Efik, Ibibio and Annang ethnic groups, who speak closely related languages, comprise about 3½ million people in the southeastern corner of Nigeria. No doubt there is a lively music scene in this area, but I'm not very familiar with it outside of the 4-5 LPs in my collection. Like Sunny Risky & the Vitamin Explosions, U.T. Isenem & his Black Mirrors are an Ibibio group. Their name qualifies them for attention in this post - what good would a "Black Mirror" do you?

The off-key bass line that opens "Konga," from 1976's Obio Cross River (Anodisc ALPS 1007) leads into some inspired dance-band highlife in the Inyang Henshaw/Rex Lawson vein. I don't know if the Black Mirrors made any other records, but this one is a real gem:

U.T. Isenem & his Black Mirrors - Konga



We close out this post with some Igbo highlife by Federal Emmison Papa & his Stich [sic] in Time Band of Nigeria. I don't know who Federal Emmison Papa is but the group itself is led by Chuwuemeka Okonkwo. "Onye ka Madu" from 1986's 'Anyi N'ele Uwa (Fepson FLPS 001) showcases some enthusiastic guitar and nice horn work:

Federal Emmison Papa & his Stich in Time Band of Nigeria - Onye Ka Madu

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

40 lashes with a wet noodle for that headline.

Neu Mejican said...

Pee Pee Dynamite has to be in the running for worst artist name. And he has that Christmas tune for the season.

http://voodoofunk.blogspot.com/search?q=Christmas

John B. said...

Oh yeah - I'd forgotten all about Pee Pee Dynamite!

zim said...

more sunny risky! please!

I was thinking this morning about names, there are some great ones on the old original music releases like the Easy Life Dandies, F.A. Jimmy West & His Rosy Morning Band, Eric Showboy Akaeze and his Azagas and Charles Iwegbue and his Archibogs - by the way what are azagas or for that matter archibogs?

Dr.Frank said...

Thanks for this post, I love the highlife. I also have this UT Isenem LP, it's fantastic. BTW, one of my favourite band name is still the Halleluiah Chicken Run Band, Thomas Mapfumo's first band.

MOB said...

Freakin' brilliant. Thanks as always...

Anonymous said...

Give us more Bayelsa highlife! When I get around to it, I need to rip that tape of mine by 'Rainbow Man', Bayelsa's late Comrade Owei.

Comb & Razor said...

i think i'm feeling the Black Mirrors track most!

the Sunny Risky song seems somewhat familiar to me... as does the album cover. trying to put a finger on where and when exactly i might have encountered it...

good stuff!

Akwaboa said...

Great music, Thanks!
My request: more P.T Foo please..
Could you post the rest of the album?
Sunny Risky is unique too, especially these 'unknown' bands can really suprise you with their special style.

calumbinho said...

I particularly love the Sunny Risky track. Loved the one posted at comb&razor's too. Are those just two rare moments of his, or is the guy really that great?

reservatory said...

Thanks for making all this arcana available to idiots like me! Particularly Sunny Risky. A very strange sound, wheezy video game keyboards and all. GREAT! Please post more! I need vitamin explosions bad!

John B. said...

Glad you like it, Reservatory. For more arcana, check out this post:

http://likembe.blogspot.com/2008/12/awijiri-ijaw-music-from-niger-river.html