This second set picks up where the first volume of Nigeria Special left off. Nigeria Special Vol. 2: Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds and Nigerian Blues, 1970-6 focuses on the rich mix of styles and seemingly endless mining of rare tracks from the early-’70s West African scene.Absorbing U.S. funk, soul and, surprisingly, psychedelic and hard-rock modes, West African artists blended new rhythms into the ancient, local African percussion and call-and-response vocal styles that underpin contemporary music.
Here, that concoction is represented by artists like Fubura Skeibo, the Professional Seagulls Dance Band of Port Harcourt, and Black’s Zenith, along with more well-known (if you dig the genre, that is) hit-makers like the Otarus, Bola Johnson & His Easy Life Top Beats (whose “Jeka Dubu” is a set highlight), and the Peacocks International Guitar Band. Many of the songs are sung in local dialects as well as in English.
The CD edition of Nigeria Special: Vol. 2 comes with a 24-page booklet that provides background information on the artists and historical notes about the period. A triple LP version is also available, but it includes only two bonus tracks. In any format, this is a hot set, one that, like all Soundway releases, provides the sounds along with the much-needed history lesson. While the grooves are a bit more raw and heavy on the first volume, this record maintains the same level of heart and soul.