Afrotunes: Best of Juju, Vol. II - Oba Mimo Olorun Ayo


The partnership between BBE and legendary Nigerian label Tabansi has brought back to light dozens of records that might otherwise have remained in obscurity. Ojo Balingo’s mysterious Afrotunes – Best of Juju Vol. II - Oba Mimo Olorun Ayo is one of those, as little is known of this jùjú master or his band. The record wasn’t a commercial hit when it first came out in the 1970s, although it may have been well known locally as Chief Tabansi, the label founder, was known for his “grassroots” approach to promotion, sending “music vans” into villages that were usually ignored by the wider music industry. What is clear is that Balingo was an experimenter, blending traditional jùjú with funk and psych rock. Although the reissue is organized into eight tracks, the tracks actually divide two, very long, medleys. The first (side A of the record) sounds more traditional, with its bubbling rhythms and vocal harmonies. The talking drum of course appears throughout, but gets more insistent on side two, sometimes unfolding into powerful percussive breaks, alongside a hallucinogenic, serpentine Hawaiian guitar.

Megan Iacobini de Fazio