Fred Fisher ‘Atalobhor’ 2LP/CD (Vampi Soul) 3/5

fred-fisherNigeria was very much attuned to the developments in funk and soul in the United States during the 1970s and as a result bands formed in the former who sought to give their own unique take on modern black music. It is in this light that one should view the group put together by Fred Fisher and the four albums condensed onto two CDs here. The multi-talented Fisher was at once a trombonist and vocalist as well as songwriter and composer. He perfected a sound known in Nigeria as Asolo rock. Simply put, this fused Afro-funk and rock with more soulful melodies. Perhaps the nearest equivalent better known to western audiences is Segun Buckner, though Fisher has less of an Afro-funk flavour. Overall the albums have a polished feel to production reflecting the sound that was coming out of America with labels like Solar and Casablanca. Instrumental dancefloor action is the order of the day on ‘No way’ from 1981 while ‘W.T.F.S.’ is more like a Nigerian attempt at early Earth, Wind and Fire or Brass Construction. It is on the second CD that the African content is more in evidence as exemplified by songs such as ‘Kisiana’ with King Sunny Ade style accompaniment and ‘Elimedede’. Gatefold sleeve with authentic cover photos and excellent graphics round off this welcome re-issue. Ten of the songs featured on the CD release are not available on the vinyl one.

Tim Stenhouse