Monday, December 7, 2009

Lost Afrobeat Classic Uncovered!

Even if the name Nicholas Addo-Nettey doesn't ring any bells, you've probably heard him singing and slapping congas as a vocalist/percussionist with Africa 70 on at least a few familiar Fela Kuti joints like Chop & Quench, Gentlemen, Alagbon Close, He Miss Road, Expensive Shit, Everything Scatter, Kalakuta Show, Ikoyi Blindness, Yellow Fever, Upside Down, Zombie, J.J.D., Sorrow, Tears and Blood, I Go Shout Plenty and No Agreement.
Not long after Addo-Nettey joined the band in 1971, he released the Mind Your Own Business album for the Tabansi label backed by the Martin Brothers Band from Portharcort, Nigeria which went nowhere. But after two years of playing hardcore Fela-style Afrobeat, Addo-Nettey had a whole different concept and cast of musicians when he returned to the studio to cut the follow-up Na Teef Know De Road Of Teef as Pax Nicholas and the Nettey Family (Tabansi). Evidently Fela saw through the sneaky alias and was none too pleased to find his Africa 70 musicians moonlighting on competing projects for different labels, particularly on recordings which so closely mirrored his own moves and grooves. Accounts differ on what Kuti said to Addo-Nettey about the album but we know that following their discussion, the Na Teef Know De Road Of Teef LP vanished without a trace in 1973 and Addo-Netty continued to live and prosper as a full-time member of Africa 70 for the next five years.

That could've been the end of the story had it not been for the sleuthing skills of German DJ Frank Gossner. The dedicated digger who relocated from Berlin to Conakry in 2005, for the sole purpose of scrounging for rare West African records came across a copy of Na Teef Know De Road Of Teef and was so blown away by the band's propulsive attack and perplexed by the album's obscurity that he tracked down Addo-Nettey to get the whole Pax Nicholas story.
Although Gossner runs the excellent Voodoo Funk blog, he doesn't have a label of his own so he set out to convince the dudes at Daptone Records to re-release the record which clearly didn't take much arm-twisting because they put it out right away on CD and vinyl. If you're any kind of Fela Kuti fan, you need to hear this Pax Nicholas LP on the double. There's good reason why Gossner considers it among his greatest discoveries.
Incidentally, while Gossner was turning over rocks to find vinyl in West Africa, he hooked up with filmmaker Leigh Iacobucci who shot footage of his travels through Togo, Ghana and Benin for the digumentary Take Me Away Fast which should be just about ready to screen. Have a look at the trailer:

Take Me Away Fast by Leigh Iacobucci

from on Vimeo.

In related Daptone news, they're ringing in the holiday season with a dope new Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Christmas single, Ain't No Chimney's In The Projects b/w Binky Griptite's Holiday Breakdown which hits the streets tomorrow (Tuesday, December 8). If you visit the Daptone site today, you can get a free MP3 download of the two tracks from the limited seven-inch by signing up for their newsletter.

Daptone Records
Voodoo Funk blog

Psychedelic Afro Shop mix
Big Beats, Sweet Talks and Psychedelic Aliens mix
Just For You mix

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