The Lijadu Sisters: Afro-Beat Soul Sisters (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

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The Lijadu Sisters: Danger
The Lijadu Sisters: Afro-Beat Soul Sisters (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

The story of the twins Taiwo and Kehinde Lijadu out of Nigeria could have come from a very familiar template with that bell curve of a career: The excitement of being young and in hot bands (among them with Ginger Baker of Cream who had moved to Lagos), the fiery politics of the era fueling their music at a time when the great Fela was setting the agenda; being influenced by psychedelic music; lesser returns on albums; the accident which halted Kehinde's career, the slip into obscurity and memory . . .

All within little more than a decade.

Yet here they are again, rescued in yet another reissue project on this 13 song compilation lifted from four of their albums in the Seventies, but under a title and promotional bio which might just sell them in a debatable way.

Words like “Afro-beat”, “soul” and “psychedelic” tend to mean just what the person using them means, so we might rightly be suspicious when they all implode in a product description of this album.

The identical sisters certainly have a natural, untutored Africa-soul quality in their singing, but – despite some nice harmonies and politically alert lyrics – they aren't especially distinctive.

However the "psychedelic" description in some promotional material does seem strangely on the money: the whistling organ parts, caustic electric guitars and bob'n'weave bass aren't too far from the axis of Bootsy/Hendrix/Doors/Cream and so on – and can call down a lightweight version of classic Fela-styled Afro-beat, as on Orere-Elejigbo.

So if you listen past the sisters (which is not to diminish them, they soar in places) and get into those roiling grooves (Bayi l'ense), the snap-funk bass, and guitars which sometimes lean towards the mercurial juju of King Sunny Ade (Erora) you hear real magic.

Fuzzy guitar solos, talking drums mixing it up with jazzy piano (Gbowo Mi), moody Yardbirds-like pop (Amebo), light but good-foot funk with primitive synths . . .

Overall this album is a patchy collection, but the very impressive musical backdrops are the real oil.

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