This isn't exactly what happened, but when my good friend Josh recently made a visit to New York from Monrovia, LIberia he brought some records back to leave in storage. Rather than the records sit in some soul-less storage unit in New Mexico I offered to babysit them for him for as long as I, er, he wanted. That's the kind of friend I am, I guess. I'm such a sport that I offered to record some of the records for him and send him the best MP3s. I know, too nice, but he's a really good friend.
To say that the box contains some "funk" would be true on two counts. There are some first -rate records with third-rate covers, but there is also a "funk" that exists in between the records, around the records and permeates everything about the records. Having lived in Indonesia (which is also equatorial - check a globe) I know that you cannot avoid this moldy, damp, sweet funky smell from getting into just about everything you own: books, clothes, and it particular loves infesting vinyl. Let's just hope there isn't any ebola or some shit lurking between the seemingly innocuous grooves . . .
I have barely begun digging into these records, but the first week I had them I tore through everything he had by Christy/Christine Essien from Nigeria. Josh has (count 'em) four albums by Nigeria's "Lady of Songs." The albums Josh has run from 1978-1988 and each one has at least two great songs, but "One Understanding" from 1977 is solid nearly all the way through. I've included songs from the first three cuz the 1986 one sadly suffers from a severe case of synthdrum-itis.
I've picked out a handful of songs from these albums.
Click on the highlighted song to download, or listen on this page using the built-in flash player
"Time Waits For No One"
from the album "Time Waits For No One" from 1978
"You Can't Change Your Man"
"Take Life Easy"
from the album "One Understanding" from 1979
"Nobody Can Stop You"
from the album "Give Me a Chance" from 1980
Josh and his lovely wife will be leaving Liberia soon and off to Bangkok, Thailand so the story goes, but if you have any interest in Liberia (and you should), check out Josh's great blog about current events and expat observations over the past year at "Liberia Ledger."
He also worked with a photographer, Chris Herwig, on this really great photo essay about wheelbarrow mobile sound systems.
Josh picked up some of his records on a harrowing record hunt in Dakar, Senegal that he wrote about here. Before he was an international non-profit warrior he was a writer and this is a good, short read and one of the most death-defying "diggin" stories I've ever heard of. If any readers out there have some even remotely dangerous digging stories, send them my way and we'll post 'em.
More tunes from Josh's box of equatorial African records coming soon!