Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Liberian Voices



Liberia has never played a big role in the African music scene. In a fascinating post on his old Voice of America blog, Matt Lavoie surveys the 1960s Liberian musical landscape and includes a number of recordings. The Ghanaian producer Faisal Helwani set up a recording studio in Monrovia in the early '80s, and claimed to have 54 albums ready for release, but apparently only two, by Fatu Gayflor and Cesar Gator, saw the light of day. Increasing political and economic instability, leading to the onset of the first Liberian Civil War in 1989, put the kibosh on whatever musical scene existed in the country.

At some point a Liberian band, the Music Makers, made it to Onitsha, Nigeria, where they were recorded by R.E. Okonkwo's legendary Rogers All Stars label in 1988. Their album Enjoyment (Rogers All Stars RASLPS 096) brings to mind the sound of Afro National from neighboring Sierra Leone, who acheived fame in the 1970s. Other than that I can't tell you anything about this enigmatic group.

Enjoy this sample from the lost world of Liberian music!






Download Enjoyment as a zipped file here. A technical note: This album is one of a number I picked up directly from the Rogers All Stars office in Onitsha. One thing I've noticed about these late-'80s RAS LPs is the muddy quality of the sound. I have no idea why this should be: poor mastering? I've tried to compensate for this by boosting the high and low frequencies slightly, to limited effect. My apologies.


2 comments:

Matthew Lavoie said...

Hi John,

Thanks for this!! Liberia is one of the country's I am always to hear more from. And thanks again for the link to the old post. I am listening to the Nimba de N'Zerekore as I type. It is one of my favorite Sylliphone releases.

Matthew

LolaRadio said...

John, you always make my day.
May God bless and protect you and grand you eternal youth!

Mahalo, Gerrit