Welikom 2 Lay-gh-us!
Over a 1997-2002 six-year period, French musician Bruno Blum produced the celebrated
"Complete Bob Marley & the Wailers 1967 to 1972' reissue series, which unveiled
dozens of previously unheard original recordings by Jamaica's legendary reggae
king, Bob Marley. As such, and at the occasion of the anniversary of Bob Marley's
passing on May 11, 2002, he was asked by the Nigerian French Cultural Center
director Pascal Letellier to speak on the topic of Marley's life at the Maison
De France in Lagos, Nigeria. The night after this successful conference, Blum
guested on lead guitar with African reggae groups, who all played La Maison
de France as a tribute to Bob Marley.
Amala, a rising afrobeat star from Lagos' rough Ajegunle area, enjoyed the show.
When Blum suggested they ought to try recording an afrobeat album together,
Amala recruited some of the best musicians in Lagos, his own Afro Culture band.
Most had already toured or recorded at one time or another with Fela Anikulapo
Kuti, another militant and legendary musician who originated and mastered Nigeria's
famous afrobeat. In a fever Blum wrote two afrobeat compositions. Spontaneously
supported by the dynamic French Cultural Center team, this hot 20-piece band
soon rehearsed at La Maison De France under Amala & Blum's co-leadership.
His 'Paris c'est pas funky' ('Paris is not funky') views
African cities such as Lagos or Dakar as the cities of the future, and other
worthwhile destinations to get away from funkyless Paris. ãDumboä is a metaphor
using an elephant as a symbol of power to crush oppression and to apply self-revolution
- as revolution starts within. Like the Indian God Ganesh, 'Dumbo the white
elephant' opens all gates, outer and
The organization of such an event in very little time was not easy in a town still
under curfew, where most musicians don't even own their instrument, don't drive
cars, seldom have a telephone number and all live miles apart in Africa's largest,
most populated and most dangerous city. But under Amala's guidance,
strenghthened by his reputation as the genuine, new voice of the people from the
ghetto, with the fantastic, positive response of the Nigerian people as well as the
restless support of the local French Cultural Center members, four long tracks
were recorded in Afrodisia Studio (formerly Decca studio) where Fela & Africa 70
had recorded much of their best output.
'Talala' and 'Formula', two of Amala's classics, are featured here. On 'Talala,'
Amala mentions a few of the dances popular with Yoruba, Haussa and Calabar
people in Nigeria, as well as the Java, a traditional popular Paris dance. He
is singing as if he was failing to marry one of these people's women through
lack of funds, in spite of knowing how to dance their specific steps, preferring
in the end to dance his own creation, the Talala dance. On 'Formula,' an angry
and ironic Amala sings about the poverty of his people in spite of huge wealth
(Nigeria is a rich oil-exporting land), the corruption of the government and
army, as well as the various political 'formulas' his country has had to endure
through the years.
Overdubbed and mixed in Paris by Blum, the album is released with a cover
painted by Ghariokwu Lemi, who designed most of Fela's striking, distinctive
album covers. An analog recording in the unique afrobeat style (an endangered
African species), 'Welikom 2 Lay-gh-us!' mixes Blum's bluesy, sharp lead guitar
and ever smart French lyrics with the finest of Lagos' most authentic talent.
Amala is a youthman born and bred in Lagos, in the most populated and popular ghetto in
Africa known as Ajegunle.
Ajegunle is noted for breeding the best raw talents in football, music and arts. Ajegunle is
also known for poverty and crime, gathering different tribes and nationals from Nigeria and
other countries. Amala has lead a lot of protest groups against past military dictators. Thus
afrobeat naturally became his selected format, with a strong creative input. All of the above
factors contribute in shaping Amala musically, and politics are hereby adressed since the past
and present government corrupt status is creating more and more poor people in the ghetto.
Amala created a new dance step known as Talala. It requires a lot of energy to
dance it, but
'Talala' is becoming more and more popular and accepted by Africans and people
in other parts of the globe. On May 2nd 1999, Amala did a public launch performance
of his first album titled 'Formula Live'. This event attracted more than 10,000
people in Ajegunle. In the year 2000 Amala was nominated best afrobeat artiste
and received a fame award. Amala and the Afro Culture Band have performed on
different concerts at Lagos'
French Cultural Center, including the World Music Day on May 25th, 2002.
One of the setbacks for Amala and the Afro Culture Band has been financing a 20 piece band,
but they still make do with what is available to train more youths on music instruments.
Bruno Blum aka Doc Reggae
A singer and guitarist from Paris, France, Blum is also a producer known mostly
for his work in the reggae field. His own 2001 'Nuage d'Ethiopie' album,
as well as 2001's 'The War
Album' (Melodie) featuring the Wailers with Bob Marley and Haile Selassie Iâs
voices have established him as a truly original singer-songwriter, much appreciated
for the quality and elegance of his work. His central contribution to the reissue ö and
occasionally mixing - of plenty rare 1967-1972 Bob Marley recordings (EMI) also
won him a reputation only challenged by his work as producer, remixer and, on
one track, singer on two classic Serge Gainsbourg reggae albums (Mercury-Universal
2003), which feature dub remixes, Gainsbourg versions remixes as well as DJ
versions (featuring Big Youth and Lone Ranger among others). In 2002 Blum has
released a collection of non-reggae songs of his named 'Think Different'
(Melodie). Originally a cartoonist, he is also known for his writings on