The Distribution Tango: 10.23.2007

Another week, another dusty corner for our crack squad of music finding robots. You see, the response to our most recent Distribution Tango edition featuring Fela Kuti’s drummer Tony Allen was so rip-roaringly positive (read: no body sent us death threats … yet) we asked ourselves a question: why dig down, when you can just reach sideways?

Thus, we find ourselves this week offering to you another beautiful Vampi Soul release from there most recent selection of rare and previously unheard African soul. Tony Allen may have set the bar unbelievably high, but we’re damn positive that our artist of the week will at least compliment Allen’s funky beats, if not replace them with the other-wordly Africa smash of this week’s Distribution Tango spotlight artist:


What Is It: A head on collision between Highlife – the soundtrack of independence first in Ghana and then in neighbouring Nigeria (the music of West African political/social aspiration) and ‘60’s Soul from the USA. While Fela Kuti’s Koola Lobitos was experimenting with Highlife and jazz with little response from Lagos youth, still 4 years and a spell in Los Angeles from creating Afrobeat, Orlando Julius unleashed this pioneering Highlife soul gem. Julius fills the album with Stax-like brass riffs and dominant bass but never ventures too far from the his native love of highlife and kokoma. From Vampi Soul.

Why You’re Going To Like It: Where Tony Allen slowly rolls out 16 minute musical behemoths (don’t be mistaken, beautiful beautiful behemoths) Orlando Julius keeps it quick and funky, banging out three minute African soul blasts that will make your ass shake. Feel the James Brown-bounce on “Ijo Soul”, embrace the, admittedly odd but distinctly Highlife sound of his “My Girl” cover, or dig in to the back-alley dance party feel of “Topless”. And that’s just disc one. Flip to part two to feel the mellower, more jammed out Julius, as he extends the track length, but keeps the jams funky. If you liked Tony Allen, we promise (hands on heart, boy scout honor) you will love Orlando Julius.

What We’re Giving You: Orlando Julius wasn’t just named “The Topless Man” because of his propensity for half-naked woman (to our knowledge, Julius had only the standard propensity for that sort of thing), oh no, instead Julius was deemed “The Topless Man” because of his rabidly popular 1965 single “Topless”. Released alongside “Ololufe”, and “E Se Re Re”, “Topless” combines Julius’ love for Highlife, kokoma, with a newfound adoration of the ’60s soul invasion that was sweeping through Lagos at the time. The track is an upbeat dance number, that will plaster a smile on your face, and get those creaky, arthritic stubs you call hips a-movin’.


If You Like This Try: Tony Allen – Afro Disco Beat