Words by Mark Sampson
Orlando Julius should be much more famous outside his native Nigeria. One of the pioneers of Afrobeat, this is the man who co-wrote the Odyssey smash ‘Goin’ Back to My Roots’ with Lamont Dozier. Indeed, you can hear echoes of that track’s infectious chugging riff throughout, on the punchy ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ or the hypnotic jam ‘Be Counted’, for example, and particularly on a delicious title-track inspired by a childhood experience.
This is his first internationally released studio album and using his raucous tenor sax, his gruff vocals and a pressure-cooking little big band, Julius revisits several compositions from his early years. Listen to ‘Aseni’ or ‘Buje Buje’ and you could almost be listening to the leader’s Afro Sounders from the 70s. The Heliocentrics add a fuzzy guitar here and a spacey organ there and generally tidy the sound without any taint of slickness. Perhaps it is because the London-based group are a little less prominent than in other Strut-sponsored collaborations (with Lloyd Miller or Mulatu Astatke) that this meeting of the spirits succeeds so well. Fans of Fela Kuti, Ebo Taylor and others of their stripe will welcome this fine reminder of a past master’s abilities.