Nigeria, 1979. Lagos has been shaken to the core by the rebellious tornado of Kuti’s afrobeat – of which there were thirty releases throughout the decade. Yet other, smaller revolutions were also taking place behind the scenes. Though they may have been more discreet, they were no less flamboyant. African Dances by Shina Williams and her African Percussionists represented one of these smaller cultural upheavals. The original vinyl, now almost impossible to find, stands at seven hundred dollars.
Here, Shina Williams was developing a bold fusion. The record contains only three titles, all bursting with free Afrobeat (including the 16 minutes of “Cunny Jam Wayo”), and the disco-funk-boogie whose influence would go on to sweep through the 80s. He wanted to prove “to the world that Africa is teeming with modern musicians.” To help make the point, he surrounded himself with an all-star Nigerian cast including Prince Bola (SJOB Movement) and Tunde Williams and Biddy Wright whose clavinet lines on “Agboju Logun” are indicative of a genuine hit, carried by a shimmering choral-brass alliance. On the back of this rediscovered masterpiece is written: “Our greatest thanks to Allah, Jah, Olorun and Chineke (…) music creates a feeling of happiness.”
Shina Williams and His African Percussionists, African Dances (Mr Bongo)