Official reissue of tracks from Willy Nfor’s three Nigerian Disco Boogie albums, audi-restoration by Colin Young and Dan Elleson. Premastering and remastering by Dan Elleson. Design by Javi Bayo. Out Late Fall 2018.

Tracklisting
DISC ONE
A1. BOOGIE DOWN IN AFRICA
A2. HAPPINESS
A3. LYNDAA
B1. SUNSHINE
B2. HUSTLE (FROM THE JUNGLE)

DISC TWO
C1. DO YOUR THING
C2. WON´T SOMEONE OPEN
D1. STAR LIFE (LET´S GO TO THE DISCO)
D2. LIZZY
D3. MY TURN (TO LOVE YOU)

Willy Ngeh N’for
(born 24th February 1956, died 28th February 1998)

Cameroon has a tradition of great bass players, names such as Jean Dikoto Mandengue (of Osibisa fame), Vicky Edimo (Black Blood, Manu Dibango, Gibson Brothers), Alhadji Toure, Basil Barap, Armand Sabal Lecco, Felix Sabal Lecco, Raymond Doumbe, Guy Nsangue, Etienne Mbappe, Francis Mbappe, Richard Nguini, Jay Lou Ava, and Richard Bona. He was in that tradition. His Nigerian career was not well distributed outside Nigeria so that didn’t help but when he got to Paris, he quickly became one of the hottest African musicians on the circuit, playing with Mory Kante (for whom he played on three albums and enjoyed a global hit, Yeke Yeke which took them touring around the world), Tulio de Piscopo, David Sancious, Charlelie Couture, Mbilia Bel (with whom he toured Southern Africa), Kante Manfila, Manu Dibango, Aicha Kone and a host of others.

Willy was special, before ending up in France, he played in the East of Nigeria and in Lagos both as a session man and as a member of The Mighty Flames, Sonny Okosun’s band, and Bongos Ikwe’s Groovies. The tracks on this compilation album are selected from three albums, Mighty Flames’ Willie Nfor, Feel So Fine and My Turn. All highly sought after album of quality Nigerian Boogie Funk.

Migration has become one of the biggest global news items in recent times. Willy Ngeh Nfor was a migrant before the word became so popular and tinged with a bad connotation. Music travels, men travel. Willy made music to travel. His music allowed him to travel. His choice of Nigeria as a destination and of English as a working language was strategic. This is what we hope to honour by virtue of this release. A celebration of music as a space capsule and of man as a vector of creativity, inventions, love and energy. Everybody migrates at some point in history. We need to celebrate humanity and free the migrant from bad energy, bad choices and a bad image.

Good People.

We are elated and humbled to be dropping this joint on the 2nd of September 2018, courtesy of the artist. Someone once referred to it as, “Possibly the Best Disco Funk album ever made”. What we know is it was a project of love and deliberate focus. The restoration and mastering was handled by the genial, Dan Elleson. This is our first released project with him, but we have several more in the pipeline.

Design responsibilities were handled by the awesome Spanish heavy weight champion, Javi Bayo. A renaissance man with so many hats and attributes, class defined.

Grotto II Release Date moved to 8 December 2017
Duomo Sounds Limited Compilation Release Date moved to 19th December 2017


Grotto II- Freestyle (out in December on Grotto II, Wait No Hurry on Livingstone Studio)
Harry Mosco Funkees -Ada aku
Zogo-Africa
Tabu Ley-Hafi Deo
Franco- Bois Noir
Keep digging
Tony Allen-Think about it
Spirit Konek’son-Pass on love
Christy Ogbah- Advice (out in December Duomo Sounds Ltd Compilation on Livingstone Studio)
Johnny O’Bazz- Xmas Eve (out in December on Duomo Sounds Ltd Compilation on Livingstone Studio)
Hotline- Lets Merge

This one is super special. An amazing insight into the catalogue of a Lagos-based label in the early 80s, when good taste was still de rigueur and 70s keyboards and synths were still in active service. Its a mix of pop-disco, deep funk, and dreamy disco-highlife. The operative term is disco… Not, ABBA or Boney M, the tough and rugged, cosmic afro version.

The miracle is that Advice (Christy Ogbah), Bindiga, Mike Umoh, Johnny O’Bazz were all on one label. The selection of songs are plucked from albums that are routinely exchanged for big money.

This one is for the people. Enjoy!

We are elated to announce our first release post-Strut, Grotto’s second album, Wait, No Hurry… Its a mature afro-funk classic of the rarest calibre (I don’t own a copy, I had to get one from Uchenna Ikonne to create a master copy)..

This amazing album was made by some of the best musicians on the 70s Lagos live circuit.

Bass Guitar – S. Benson* (tracks: A1, B3), T. Mason Jnr. (tracks: A2 to B2)
Chorus – E. Bassey* (tracks: B3), M. Amenechi* (tracks: B3), T. Mason Jnr. (tracks: B3)
Drums – E. Bassey*

Toma Mason Jnr had evolved into a very capable and interesting bass player, highly sought after and rated. The rest of the band had a developed a chemistry from playing live on a steady basis. This can be heard clearly on the funk classics like Wait… No Hurry, Who Gives A Damn, Bad City Girl and Freestyle.

Its a very balanced album which provides a great listening experience. Enjoy!

We’ve decided to end our Production and Distribution deal with Strut/K7. After three albums, Friday Night by Livy Ekemezie (ODLIV 001), At Last by Grotto (ODLIV002), and Mind Twister by The Apples (ODLIV003).

We will be working directly with distributors, Rush Hour (Europe and UK), Forced Exposure (USA and North America) and Disk Union (Japan).

For anybody wanting to start a label, one word of advice, do it yourself….

Peace,

T

“Grotto started in ‘Gregs’ (St. Gregory’s College in Ikoyi, Lagos) around 1973/1974. The original line-up was myself on lead guitar and bass guitar, Martin Amenechi also played both lead guitar and bass and Jimi ‘Skid’ Ikemefuna was on drums. Over the years, the group went through several other members. The members of Ofege were also students in the same school and I also played lead guitar for them. We were all in our teens.

As Grotto, we played a rock/funk fusion. We were probably aged 15, 16 or thereabouts and we were heavily into music; we listened to Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and lots of rock bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. We listened to a lot of rock to learn guitar solos. As I grew older I think I got a bit jazzier, though. I also listened to Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Isley Brothers, Prince and a lot of funk groups from that era.

Odion Iruoje was the A&R manager at EMI at the time and he auditioned us, liked the material and signed us. He also produced our recordings. As a band, we were also very much involved in the production but, being kids then, I’m not sure that we were credited for that on the album.

It was a cool period musically – you could play in several bands based on relationships. A lot of guys moved around. Martin Amenechi, Femi Lasode and Etim Bassey played in a band called War Head Constriction before Grotto but they were also members of Grotto at different points in time.

Most of us were boarders and the school encouraged music and had instruments so we had time to jam and really gel together. Only Martin was a day student. We used to break bounds to go to the studio when we started. The group still continued after we left Gregs. We had to juggle A-Levels with gigs and I completed my studies. We used to skip school whenever we had a show, rehearsal or a recording date. Grotto was a very active live band unlike Ofege, which was mainly a studio band.

My old man was totally against me being involved in music, which is why my picture didn’t appear on the first Ofege album I played on. I was afraid he would spot me and ‘kill’ me! Even the pictures of Grotto were only featured on the back cover of the album, if my memory serves me right.

Apart from our recordings with Odion and EMI, we also started a couple of later projects which remained uncompleted. I think we recorded at Arc Studios (Ginger Baker’s studio in Nigeria) and some other studio I’ve forgotten the name of. Arc Studios was a 16-track studio back then while EMI was just an 8-track studio. So we preferred Arc.

We played at The Shrine with Fela, with Tee Mac, I think, at Batakoto, Blackman Akeeb Kareem at some club in Surulere, with Sonny Okosun at Kakadu, Segun Bucknor at Granada Hotel and lots of other places and with other musicians I don’t recall any more. We also played at UNILAG, the Lagos State Uni… We played a lot. The gigs were not paid as the organisers felt that they were doing us a favour. We all came from relatively comfortable backgrounds so money wasn’t the first consideration. It was like a very serious hobby for us and, besides, not many musicians made much money back then anyway.

We mixed very well in school and had lots of friends. There were lots of female admirers as well since we played some shows as part of our school activities and also played in some girls’ schools like Holy Child, Queens College and one gig at St. Agnes Yaba. The Grotto songs I really liked were ‘Come Along With Me’, ‘Bad City Girl’ and ‘Funk From Mother’. The songs were quite advanced because we were well travelled and well read. We were young but quite mature for our age.

I always travelled out for the holidays so I was able to buy original instruments. I looked up to established cats like Berkeley Jones (from Blo) but I would say that the best guitar players then were people like Tony Isikalu, Martin Amenechi, Erasmus Yurenki and, of course, my humble self.”

Soga Benson (Theophilus Olusoga Shobowale Benson)
Musician, Guitarist

“I remember the Grotto audition, they were a bit cocky, St Gregs boys, they had some material that they thought was great, but I felt otherwise. Grotto was a rock group but we needed to get them somewhere original. That was the challenge, not to sound like Ofege or some British rock group, but for them to sound like their authentic self. I was into youth bands at the time, I felt they offered something fresh, most pros were into reggae which I hated (not as a genre but the aping of it).. youth bands allowed me to experiment, I gave them something and they in turn gave me something, which I could take to the next project. They made me in a way. EMI (Nigeria) did not really get the emergence of the youth market, they thought I was fooling around with kids”.

Mr Odion Iruoje
(Resident A&R exec/Producer, EMI Nigeria)
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