Various Artists

The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria

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The astonishing Soundway label has dominated the field of Nigerian reissue compilations for years now, putting out a total of seven sets documenting the astonishing fertility of that country's music scene in the '70s. This one, a double disc focusing on Nigerian rock -- and thus a sequel of sorts to 2008's scorching Nigeria Rock Special -- features some names familiar to listeners who've purchased other Soundway compilations. The Hygrades, the Funkees, the Hykkers, the Semi Colon, the Action 13, Bongos Ikwue, and Ofo the Black Company (whose roaring "Allah Wakbarr" is one of the great Afro-rock anthems of all time, featuring an acid rock guitar riff Funkadelic would have killed for in 1970) all appear, alongside plenty of otherwise unfamiliar names. Many groups sing in English, while others feature Yoruba vocals. Almost all, though, combine chopping guitar, screaming organ, and relentless rhythm in a way that recalls James Brown's killer 1969-1970 lineup of the JB's. The Mebusas' "Mr. Bulldog" is a churning anthem criticizing a man who's "talking while everybody else is walking," and features harsh, almost discordant horns that seem to be laying the foundation for Fela Kuti's Afro-beat sound, even as the vocals are in perfectly comprehensible English, utterly lacking any African accent. And then there's the wasp-on-crystal meth guitar solo. This double disc is jammed with unstoppable, irresistible grooves overlaid with teeth-rattling, mind-zapping guitar solos and nearly unhinged call-and-response vocals. Not every track is pure aggression, of course; some are more relaxed, providing a breather between eruptions. Taken as a whole, this is one of the most exhilarating and thrilling compilations around, recommended not only to scholars of African music but anyone who remembers when rock bands wanted people to dance.

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