Fela Cousins the Lijadu Sisters Reissued

Ambitious archival series from Knitting Factory
commences in November.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Knitting Factory
Records – home to all things Fela Kuti, natch – is set to re-release of four long
out-of-print albums by Nigerian twins the
Lijadu Sisters, Taiwo and
Kehinde. The sisters, cousins of
Fela, were a rarity in Nigeria. Not
only were they female in an industry dominated by male artists but they wrote
their own material, which was often political and always topical. Recorded at
the famed Decca studios in Lagos, Nigeria, the hotbed of the Nigerian music scene
at that time, the albums combine Afrobeat, Western and UK pop music
and reggae, with the sisters singing in both English and Yoruba.  

 

The releases are as follows:

Danger  (1976) –
November 8, 2011
Mother Africa  (1977) – 1st quarter 2012
Sunshine (1978)  –
2nd quarter 2012
Horizon Unlimited (1979)
– 3rd quarter 2012   

 

Long out of print and prized by collectors,
these albums have never before been available on CD or digitally; they’ll also
be available on vinyl and all formats will include the original artwork. Remastered
from recordings taken off the original vinyl LPs (the tapes have long been
lost), these recordings sound as urgent and timely today as they did set
against the turbulent scene of Nigeria
in the ’70s.    

 

 

The series will kick off with Danger on November 8, 2011; the Lijadu
Sisters’ first release on the Afrodisia label.  Danger is as funky and mellifluous
as it gets, with the twins’ gorgeous harmonies underpinned by a solid Afro-rock
beat and framed by multi-instrumentalist Biddy Wright’s funky organ and guitar work. Danger has a vibe of
uplifting positivity which would be a feature of all four of the Lijadu Sisters’ Afrodisia albums.
  

 

Lyrically, most of the songs address social
and political issues, sometimes directly, sometimes through metaphor and
allusion. “Danger,” the uptempo opener and title track, is on one
level about a “dangerous lover.” But in the wider context of the
times – with the police and army’s abuses of power running rampant and
otherwise unchecked (Fela Kuti’s eviscerating Zombie  was also released in 1976) – it serves as a
glimpse of life on the edge in Nigeria during those turbulent political
years.   

 

The reason the Lijadu Sisters aren’t well known today, except by collectors, is
that Kehinde, while the duo was touring North America
with King Sunny Ade in 1980,
suffered a severe spinal injury that has kept them out of the public eye until
now.  They’re living in NYC and have been very hands on with the project,
working with Knitting Factory Records
to make these albums available again. The sisters are also planning select
shows timed around these releases; stay tuned for updates. 

 

The Lijadu
Sisters were featured in Konkombé,
British director Jeremy Marre’s 1979 film on the Nigerian pop scene and were a
hit in the ’80s on the UK
television show, The Tube. Check out this clip of The Lijadu Sisters at
Decca Studio in Lagos
in the ’70s:

   

 

 

 

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