In 1967 While the States and the rest of the Western world was in the height of “Flower Power,” “The Age of Aquarius,” and people were out protesting against the Vietnam War and for civil rights for people of people of color, women and the LGBTQ community, Nigeria had descended into a brutal and bloody civil war. Interestingly, the rock scene that developed during three years of bloodshed and destruction helped heal and unite the country, propagate a brand new ideal of the “modern” Nigerian and eventually helped propel Fela Kuti to international stardom.
Earlier this year, Now-Again Records released volume one of a two volume compilation Wake Up You!: The Rise and Fall of Nigerian Rock. A companion book featured research from renowned musicologist Uchenna Ikonne and an incredible array of never-seen photos that will tell the stories of some of Nigeria’s long-forgotten but best rock bands — bands that specialized in a sound that meshed funk, psych rock and rock in a way that was unique and particularly Nigerian, while being remarkably familiar to Western ears. Volume 1’s first single Ify Jerry Krusade’s “Everybody Likes Something Good,” sounded deeply indebted to James Brown, Jefferson Airplane, Booker T and the MGs and others as heavily wah-wah pedaled guitar, soaring organ chords, sinuous and throbbing bass lines, layers of percussion were paired with call and response vocals in a way that seemed to nod towards Fela Kuti’s earliest releases. Volume 2’s first single Waves’ “Wake You Up” is a shaggy, garage rock and psych rock jam that sounds as though it drew from early Rolling Stones, The Who, The Animals and others while managing sounding as though it were the forebear of Pazy and the Black Hippies psychedelic take on Afrobeat and funk.