Various Artists

Miliki Music: Society Sounds of 60's Lagos

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AllMusic Review by

Think of Miliki Music as the Buena Vista Social Club of West African highlife music. The recordings that occupy this collection sound as if they belong to another time and place -- Nigeria in the '60s to be precise -- except that they don't: the production is very much a modern affair. These are recent recordings by musicians -- a couple of whom are now octogenarians themselves -- who pay tribute to the highlife, palmwine, and juju music originally made famous by the likes of King Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey, with the proto-Afrobeat of Fela Kuti also suggested but not as prominent. The four main musicians here are Fatai Rolling Dollar on guitar; the blind, 82-year-old minstrel singer and percussionist Kokoro; Duro Ikujenyo, Fela's keyboardist from the Egypt '80 days; and guitarist Ayinde Bakare, son of juju pioneer Ayinde Bakare. The songs range from Ikujenyo's easy-rolling Caribbean-influenced "An Ki Yin" to the deep-grooved, R&B-inflected jam of "Yoruba Boys Club." Kokoro's "Amerika," with its gruff vocal and reverbed production, suggests an ancient, faraway trance-inducer, and Dollar's "She Go Run Away" feels like early roots reggae with a folk touch. And throughout, the layered call-and-response vocals and the hypnotic springlike lilt of incandescent guitars echo an Africa gone by.

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