SONG OF THE DAY
Fantastic Man - William Onyeabor
William Onyeabor hails from Nigeria and started to produce music under his own label in the mid-1970’s. After studying cinematography in Russia for many years prior to this, he was also keen to set up a music and film production studio. He recorded a number of hit songs in Nigeria during the 70s, the biggest of which was ‘Atomic Bomb’ in 1978. His unique blend of stripped down spacey, lo-fi funk, laced with synth and was unlike anything coming out of Africa at the time. While his counterpart Fela Kuti was making loud socio-political comments, Onyeabor’s tracks also often had a slightly more subtle, while equally powerful overtone heard on tracks like ‘Why go to War?’. ‘Better Change Your Mind’ is a great example of his omniscient message, the upbeat, moog-funk track is punctuated by Onyeabor’s vocals as names ‘power-nations’ America, Russia, China, Cuba, Canada and Britain in particular, asking, “Do you ever think this world is yours?” to which he quips “If you’re thinking so, my friends, better change your mind!”. Onyeabor later moved into politics and was crowned a High Chief in Enugu, Nigeria where he lives today.
Even 20 or so years later his music still stands alone, its clear he was well ahead of his time. Not only in concept but in execution. His use of analog synths, moog and percussion create a musical dialogue which reflects his African heritage and also travels to Russia and Europe.
His records are pretty hard to come by and expensive, apparently you used to be able to pick up his music as cassettes from street vendors really easily in the 8o’s. Alongside this post i will put up the cover art from his album ‘Anything you sow’ which was produced later (around 1985) featuring the standout track ‘When the going is smooth & good’ and shows off his impressive equipment collection quite nicely!