WILLIAM ONYEABOR ‘Who Is William Onyeabor?’ – CD (Reissue)


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Here’s a reissue we’re excited about! Released by David Byrne’s world music label Luaka Bop, Who Is William Onyeabor? is a compilation that attempts to answer the titular question – comprising songs from Onyeabor’s 8-album catalogue from the years 1977-1985, prior to him leaving music when he became a born-again Christian.

Funk, disco and psychedelic grooves all coalesce into a whacky dance journey full of earworms and kooky hooks. But most importantly these are party songs, and in the spirit of disco, they have matters other than politics on their mind. “You better dance your troubles away,” Onyeabor demands on the 10-minute boogie anthem “Body and Soul.” And on the set’s craziest song, “Atomic Bomb,” the singer declares “I’m going to explode” while his backing singers repeat the title over and over. It’s all about the extended jams, driven by the space-age sound of synthesizers and drum machines — very new tools when Onyeabor was recording in the late ’70s and ’80s, especially in Africa.

Who Is William Onyeabor? may not answer many biographical questions, but it does paint a superb portrait of the musician as a highly original creator and pioneer; it adds depth and dimension to the picture we have of African music during the era. It’s a pretty darn perfect overview of one of the most singular acts to come out of a golden era of African pop.

*Also available on 12″ vinyl