Review | Songlines

Akalaka/The Power

Rating: ★★★★

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Album and Artist Details


Victor Chukwu/Uncle Victor Chuks


BBE Music


This release marks the reissue of two LPs from the comparatively little-known Nigerian highlife musician Victor Chukwu. They originate from the late 70s, a golden era for highlife, and were the product of the Tabansi label. Based on the traditional rhythm played on the ogene (iron bell), this style of guitar highlife from the Igbo people of south-east Nigeria has a beautifully languid groove with Congoleseflavoured guitars and horn section adornment. The original LPs credit no musicians, but we know that Victor Chukwu was a guitarist, tenor saxophonist and vocalist. He sings in an optimistic and relaxed style that has gospel undertones. The vocals are primarily in the Igbo language, though ‘Born Throw Away’ is sung in Pidgin English. There are six tracks clocking in at eight minutes each, and one extended 16-minute song, which has an exceptionally hypnotic guitar phrase and glorious horn stabs running through it. This reissue proves that although he was never as successful or prolific as his Igbo contemporaries, Chukwu is every bit as good as Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe or Oliver de Coque.

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