Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Lijadu Sisters - 1979 - Horizon Unlimited

Lijadu Sisters
Horizon Unlimited

01. Orere-Elejigbo
02. Erora
03. Gbowo Mi
04. Gbalo-Alogbalo
05. Come On Home
06. Not Any Longer

Bass Drum – Ladi Oguntunwase, Tony Adeleye
Bass Guitar – Richard Archer
Drums – Buttley Moore, Laolu Akins
Drums [Ekwe], Claves [Cleffs] – Friday Jumbo
Keyboards – Lemmy Jackson
Lead Guitar – Frederick Ramm
Maracas – John Akanmu
Rhythm Guitar – Glenis Martins, Tunde Peters
Talking Drum – Soji Adenie

Recorded at Decca Studios, London.

The final disc in the Lijadu Sisters quartet of albums for Afrodisia, 1979’s Horizon Unlimited, is a superbly balanced affair which synthesizes the several diverse characteristics of the three earlier albums. Traditional Yoruba music, Afrobeat, funk, rock and pop are all melded together, as are traditional and electric instruments. A talking drum is upfront on each track, along with multi-instrumentalist Biddy Wright, who is heard on organ, acoustic piano, electric piano, guitars and synthesizer. The singing and the songs, as ever, are both pure gold. Most of the lyrics are in Yoruba. Horizon Unlimited makes you wish theLijadu Sisters had gone on releasing a new album every year, but, by 1979, Taiwo and Kehinde were finding their experience of the Nigerian record business deeply frustrating. “They don’t give one fig about the artists” Kehinde told Jeremy Marre that year, in his film Konkombe: The Nigerian Pop Music Scene. “They just sap and sap. When you sign with them you sign away your life. As far as they’re concerned, you keep owing them and paying back until you die.”
The disc opens with an outstanding chunk of Afrobeat, “Orere-Elejigbo”. Its lyric, sung mostly in Yoruba, refers to the “trouble in the streets” then endemic in urban Nigerian life – trouble frequently caused by the supposed forces of law and order. The words cite the legend of a destructive princess, and tell the government it should be nurturing the people, not destroying them, their environment and their culture. “Erora” which follows, expands on this idea. Literally, the word means “take it easy”, and here Taiwo and Kehinde use it as an exhortation to the governing and industrial elite. Take it easy, they sing: if you use money or power in a negative way, you will destroy the world. By 1979, the oil-driven ecological rape of the Nigerian delta was already woefully advanced. The general ambiance is similar to the apala/fuji/waka mix of “Bayi L’ense“on Mother Africa.
“Gbowo Mi” a song to Oshun, the river goddess, is pure balm for the soul, with a delightful acoustic piano vamp. It is followed by “Gbalo-Alogbalo”. Asked what it means, Kehinde laughs and says, “We don’t know! They are the phonetic spelling of words our mother heard when she young, on a record a Camerounian friend played to her. It was mum who taught us the original song”. (In the early 1960s, the emerging Congolese rumba star Franco wrote several songs like this, verses, choruses, bridges and all, impressing everyone with his knowledge of “Spanish” as he tried for an authentic Cuban sound). Horizon Unlimited concludes with two funk-infused love ballads, “Come On Home” and “Not Any Longer”