Surely everything that exists, exists on the internet nowadays. It seems more and more that people appreciate the odd gems that go unchronicled by the web. These artifacts are somehow defiant to the (sometimes scary) sweep of the technological age.
William Onyeabor was, more or less, one of those unturned stones until very recently. In the 70s, around the time electronic instruments were starting to be used in popular music for the first time, this guy, seemingly on his own in the middle of nowhere (well, Nigeria – but still) busted out a few records of sublime, forward-thinking synth-funk, then got into Christianity in a big way and turned his back on the whole music thing. In the last couple of years, the record label Luaka Bop (headed up by Talking Heads’ David Byrne) were responsible for dragging Onyeabor out of obscurity. The mysteries surrounding his music and life only add to the pleasure of listening to the album they released of his remastered songs.
This is currently our favourite of the bunch. It’s hard to resist the catchiness of the call-and-reponse thing going on between Onyeabor and the female backing singers. You’ll be singing it all week once it’s in your head. Incidentally, we were fortunate enough to be given tickets to the recent night at the Barbican, London in honour of the man and legend. Of all the heavyweight artists who came to cover the songs from the album (Onyeabor himself was of course nowhere to be seen), it was Damon Albarn who took the lead on this once. And though he wasn’t perfect, his energy and general cheekiness perfectly conveyed the spirit of the song. Fantastic stuff.