Given what most Westerners know about Nigeria's history, the title of this collection may seem odd, but in fact, it represents the beginning of a brief decade when things were finally shifting in the nation's favor. This was the beginning of the true post-colonial period for Nigeria, the Biafran war had come to an end, there was an oil boom offering disposable income to a larger portion of the population, and musicians were benefiting from an increase in the number of clubs to play in and the interest of both local and international major labels taking root on their soil. Add to this the innovations brought about by musicians themselves, many of whom who had traveled internationally. Strut has assembled a solid 13 tracks that signify the musical fruits of this period on Nigeria 70: Sweet Times. The music ranges from the sprightly, rocking highlife of "Life" by Moneyman & the Super 5 International to the proto-Igbo highlife funk of Ali Chunkwumah & His Peace Makers International's "Henrietta" and the futuristic juju of "It's Time for Juju Music" by Admiral Dele Abiodun & His Top Hitters International. The sheer variety of styles, dialects, and musical ambition in just these three tracks is startling. But there's far more, including the hard breakbeat clavinet and horn-driven funk of the instrumental "Viva Disco" by Tunde Mabadu, the psychedelic soul groove of "Bisi's Beat" by Soki Ohale's Uzzi, and the hypnotic shimmering guitar and hand drum incantation that closes the set in "Ajoyio," by the mighty Chief Ebenezer Obey. This set is irresistible; unlike many other comps out there, its sound is as good as it gets, and the track-by-track annotations by Jon Lusk are indispensable. This is a necessary volume for any fan of African groove music from the 1970s in general and Nigeria in particular.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek