"Darling, if you don't know how to twist, don't feel ashamed. I will explain it to you. This is the moment to start". These lyrics, in french (!!), are on this EP with the surprising title of "Nigeria's Greatest". The artists performing this song with the exciting title of "Cherie Si Tu Ne Sais Pas Twister" are none other than Air Congo Orchestra City Five from Leopoldville, Congo. And if this is the first time you have heard of this ensemble: you're not the only one!
Fortunately, the other three tracks are by Nigerian artists, but - perhaps disappointingly - I have posted these before; all three are on the collection "Nigeria's Request Programme" (also on Philips West African Records).
But there is more 'new' material on this second EP, also released by Philips. And again the title, "Top Hits from Nigeria Vol. 2"* may lead to some confusion, as there is another 'foreign' band on this selection: Negro Jazz Brazzaville. They appear to be accompanied by George Arakpo and His Congo Bell (who are likewise complete strangers to me). This Negro Jazz sings in what is suppose to be spanish, borrowing some lyrics from Dewayon's Conga Jazz ("Eh non non non Mamie"). The result can be described as quite invigorating.
Again, the three remaining tracks are by Nigerian artists. The first is a highlife tune by one of the pillars of Nigerian highlife, Roy Chicago and his Rhythm Dandies, who will the subject of future posts (plural). Then there is a very enjoyable ibo highlife track by another Great, Rex Lawson and his Mayor's Dance Band. Note, by the way, that his nickname on this EP is not "Cardinal", but "Pastor". And finally, there is more twisting, with a second twist (after his "Suzzy Twist" on "Nigeria's Greatest") by King Kennytone and his Western Toppers.
With all this twisting going on, and assuming that all tracks are from roughly the same period, I think it is safe to date these recordings in the first half of the 1960s. The fact that EP's too are a phenomenon from this period, and "Leopoldville" (renamed "Kinshasa" in 1966) in the name of Air Congo City Five seem to confirm this estimate.
If anyone has any more information about the two orchestras from the two Congos, please let us know.
Philips 420026 PE
Philips 420018 PE
*The backside of both sleeves show there is also a volume 1 and a volume 3, and many more marvels still to be (re)discovered.....