Victor Olaiya’s ‘All Stars Soul International’ (Vampi Soul) 3/5

victor-olaiyaThe Funky Lagos saga continues with this re-issue of a 1970 LP that came out in Nigeria and combines highlife and funk. The songs on the original either side segue into one another and this gives the album as whole the feel of a non-stop mix. James Brown influences are all too obvious on covers of ‘Cold Sweat’ and ‘There was a time’, the former featuring an extended saxophone solo. Of the highlife cuts, the highly melodic ‘Okere gwonko’ hints at 1960s Bobby Benson while ‘Soro jeje fum arogbo’ fuses traditional highlife with US funk to good effect even if the female vocals are not the strongest. Clearly modern Nigerian music was in the process of defining itself at this time and consequently songs such as ‘New Nigeria’ and ‘Everybody needs love’ were searching for a happy medium between external influences and updating traditional genres. Funk fans will probably be more satisfied with this album than world roots ones. As ever with Vampi Soul releases, a beautifully illustrated gatefold sleeve with detailed notes inside courtesy of Max Reinhardt.

Tim Stenhouse