Part of the clutch of rock bands formed in the wake of Ginger Baker’s Nigerian sojourn in the early 70s, The Funkees were the key players outside the Lagos scene, known for their ability to rock the dancefloor. After featuring the group across their Nigeria Special compilations, Soundway have now devoted a whole anthology to the boys from Aba.
Like many groups of the era, The Funkees’ genesis was as an army band. Working their way through a series of line-ups, they blazed a trail through clubland with a legendary live show, often played all night, seven days a week. It wasn’t long before UK promoters called, prompting a move to London where they recorded two seminal albums, both now fiendishly collectable.
There’s a whole host of influences and styles on offer here and, where the band fuse them to forge their own unique sounds, the results are effective. The instrumental Abraka melds dance rhythms, hard rock and even a smattering of disco to great effect, while Baby I Need You is a brilliant demonstration of the fireworks that can result when rock and funk meet African rhythms head-on. But the best thing here is Akula Owu Onyeara: a hypertense mix of tight locked grooves, call-and-response vocals and Sesame Street-esque yells on the chorus.