LATEST OBSESSION: Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-1976

I love world music. I seriously do, you can find some right pearls amongst the multitude of music from other countries. Because of England and America, obviously even in other countries, they listen to a big amount of English-speaking songs so with some foreign movements especially, you can hear the influence. This is especially the case with this Nigeria Special release. It came out two whole years ago though. So you’ve probably heard it in it’s entirety and rated it out of 5 stars on iTunes if you’re a hipster of those higher levels. But I myself only just recently picked up a copy and I’ve been enthralled.

Right from the start with the opening “Ayamma” by The Anambra Beats, you get the upbeat nature of the music, the experimental and deep sounds, sort of like a mix between a lot of 70s experimental rock and jazz and also the elements of Beach Boys-esque summer Pop. The hot Nigerian climate definitely caters for the tone, the compilation is pretty well put together as well, it’s admittedly the best summer music on my iPod at the moment, listening as I walked into town earlier, with almost unbearably hot sun for England. It’s the sort of music that has sept through into today, of course, the majority of what I listen to is nothing like it, but I like to relate the beach-friendly and lively songs to bands like Fair Ohs, Wavves and Vampire Weekend who maintain that sense of positive vibes.

Album highlights include The Funkees’ epic 7&1/2 minute long “Akula Owu Onyeara” with it’s flashes of prog-y and jazz sounds and a keyboard that to me sounds eerily reminiscent of some Doors songs. There’s also the brilliant “To Whom It May Concern” by Tunji Oyelana & The Benders, as well as “Koma Mosi” by The Harbours Band, a song that sounds so familiar, I’ve been trying to find out if it’s been actually used in old films as opposed to it probably being a homage of that style. There’s also the Hykkers lovely “I Want A Break Thru” with such a traditional (of course then it was contemporary) rock styling that you would be forgiven for thinking this was some kind of tamed Led Zeppelin song.

There’s obviously brilliance across the whole 26 songs on the compilation and it’s one I seriously recommend, so check it out soon, for an album of sun-drenched, laid back brilliance and showing some truly inspirational music coming from the heart of Nigeria more than 30 years ago. Two of those aforementioned highlights are below.

The Hykkers – I Want A Break Thru
The Harbours – Koma Mosi

Pick up a copy for £11.99 over at


  1. Robin Buckley wrote:

    The cool thing is that the record label that puts these out puts out tons of compilations with a similar rocking design and awesome “themes” i.e.

    Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds, Ghanaian Blues 1968 – 1981
    The sound of the Underground Lagos Dancefloor 1974-79

    Can’t wait to pick up more of these.

  2. gareth wrote:

    Hey Nathan – this is pretty cool – down and dirty R’n'B – just how I like it! Infectious stuff – good groove! Nice work, feller!

  3. Matthew wrote:

    I’ve had my eyes on the Nigerian Psychedelic one that comes out this weekend

    • Nathan wrote:

      There’s a second volume to this, but i feel like i should listen and appreciate it more before i get any others in the collection. But yeah, the label that does these has produced some comprehensive sets, there’s a Ghanian equivalent too, which should be good

    • ba5tard swordsman wrote:

      I just go the Psychedelia in Nigeria and it is off the hook! the best of the whole afrofunk/ afrobeat/ highlife compilations from Soundway (and I have them all)…easily.