Friday, July 04, 2008

william onyeabor

Last week I was absent-mindedly perusing the contents of my favourite local charity shop (that’s ‘thrift shop’ for you North Americans) when my ears were blessed with a fantastic sound – 70’s African soul with an electro flavour. What I was hearing was so good that I approached the shop’s proprietor to ask about the scratchy vinyl he was playing on his ancient record player. And this is how I discovered William Onyeabor.

The LP my new friend was listening to turned out to be Onyeabor’s 1978 album Atomic Bomb. He told me that William Onyeabor is pretty much a legend in his home country of Nigeria although his albums are now quite rare (copies like this occasionally surface on ebay for up to $100). However, a trip down any busy street in Lagos will present multiple opportunities to buy copies of the original records on burned CDs from street vendors.

According to a bio on the interweb:
William Onyeabor studied cinematography in Russia for many years, returning to Nigeria in the mid-70s to start his own Wilfilms music label and to set up a music and film production studio. He recorded a number of hit songs in Nigeria during the 70s, the biggest of which was ‘Atomic Bomb’ in 1978. ‘Better Change Your Mind’ is taken from the same album, and, as well as slating the power-crazed nations of the world, the second half settles into a unique slice of stripped down spacey, lo-fi funk which is unlike any other Nigerian music being made at the time. William has now been crowned a High Chief in Enugu, where he lives today as a successful businessman working on government contracts and running his own flour mill.

The excellent African music blog With Comb & Razor recently made available an mp3 rip of the original vinyl version of 'When the Going is Good & Smooth' from Onyeabor's mid-80s album Anything You Sow and I've included it below along with the classic 'Better Change Your Mind'.

William Onyeabor - When the Going is Smooth & Good
William Onyeabor - Better Change Your Mind

- a.m.p.m.


Laurent said...

yes!! I'm very happy for you that you discovered Mister Atomic Bomb.
I heard it the first time in Bamako, after I forget that song until I saw the LP on eBay.
He's a good musician, great idea you have to share these two tracks.


stefan said...

I cant believe that this link works and im downloading "When the Going is smooth..." right now...i truly cant believe it. lol. i've been searching for this for so loooong. Im beside myself with glee. Big Ups from Montreal!

John Foster Cartwright said...

These links are dead now! Shit!
I've been looking for When the Going is Smooth fo' EVA!!!! Any chance I could get this e-mailed or something? Please let me know ladies and gents! I would worship your soul forever!!!

Tom MacInnes said...

Can only echo John above - can someone please re-up this?

John Foster Cartwright said...

Hey Tom. I think they way I finally go this was through someone e-mailing it to me. If you've got a big enough mailbox, message me and let me know. Spread the love.

Anonymous said...

brilliant, just brilliant!

i want "When the going is smooth..."

Phil, Uk

Mieras said...

alternative link somebody?

Covenant.Child said...

Hey!!! Any chance I can get the mp3 for "When the Going is smooth and good"?

online pharmacy said...

this guy where a true legend, so please post some material from him soon or latter!

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