Well I know some two faced so and sos but Lightning Head (aka Glyn “Bigga” Bush) takes the biscuit with 13 magnificent faces on the follow-up to the classic Studio Don.
My copy of Studio Don is getting a little worn now as it came out in 2002 on Best Seven (they of their latest compilation Best Seven Selections 3). You’ll recall thatJazzanova loved ‘Me and Me Princess’ so much that they included it on their party CD 10 Years, Who Cares? and there’s only Glyn who could think up a steel band version of Jean Jacques Perrey’s ‘EVA’ (check out FLY’s interview with JJP from 1997 HERE).
So it’s with some trepidation that ‘the difficult second album’ 13 Faces Of Lightning Head lands through the letter box. Well I’m ecstatic to report that the whole album is good as Studio Don was.
Studio Don was inspired by the sounds of Latin music, reggae and dub and we know from Area Boy and his recent DJ set at Big Chill this year that 13 Faces features the beats of 70s West Africa (all the rage at the moment with Byard Lancaster’s Funny Funky Rib Crib re-issue and the Nigeria Special to name just two).
“This was the sweltering era of high action guitars and warped neck bass, psychedelic organs, primitive funk and heavyweight rhythms overlaid with barnstorming brass sections, where feel takes sway over tuning and FIRE comes before technique” says Glyn. Not only that, he’s got some of his mates to help out.
It was good to catch up with MC Earl Zinger (aka Rob Galliano and Junkyard Gods 2bo4) at the Orange Room’s the other week (even though he wasn’t going to MC). Mr. Zinger features on ‘Invisible Twin’ as the spirit of ESG get truly funked out; it “Ain’t gonna be easy” but somebody has to do it. Personally prefer ‘Shark Fin Soup’ as Zinger gets into some serious all-day thinking to with simple beat and 60′s organ (think downtempo ‘Saturday Morning Rush’; I love this guy).
Whilst on the subject of underground NY dancefloor, other guests include U.S. rapper Candice Cannabis who meets modern day reggae on ‘Power Of The Great’ whilst ‘Preguntas Porque’ is in the Studio Don Latin-reggae-bounce with Spanglish lyrics and from Blanquito Man (King Chango, Up Bustle & Out) complete with air-horn and some “Wat do dem, come agen Lightning Head”. And then ‘Hi Life Music’ gets to grips with a skankin’ Spanish stroll.
Whilst all the tracks are brilliant, there’s three (at least) instrumentals that take some beating. The track ‘Afro Spot’ is named after the famous night club in Lagos and Glyn’s tribute is more than fitting with funky horns, booming bass and JB-style guitars (sounding particular good with my new Bass amp at only 35W!) Killer tune. And in the same are funkin area, ‘Sousaphunk’ is enough to show how those Hypnotic Bass Ensemble guys how to do it in the horn dept. whilst those drums and guitar just keep ya feet a movin’. And for dancing, ‘Ilu Baje (Sick State)’ is a gidamba rhythm with a catchy filthy flute and some dirty organ (oh err Mrs!)
‘Bokoor Sound Special’ is a cover of an original song by Ghana’s Prince Kwese Menu is so much the highlife whilst ‘Abyssinia Rising’ puts the Ethio-funk of Mulatu Astatke into a wah-wah infused clavinet TV theme tune (with respect to King ‘The Ugly One‘ Stitt). That synth could have been extended but still an awesome track.
Possible the best of the lot is the last track, ‘Rascal Republic as the “musical and lyrical tribute to the Godfather, Fela Anikulapo Kuti” with vocals from Nigerian MC Lariman Ojelade.
Released on Glyn’s own Lion Head Recordings label following on from BiggaBush In Dub we can’t get enough of 13 Faces; or anything else from his back catalogue with Rockers Hi Fi during the 1990s (remember the ‘Push Push‘ remixes?) and in addition to Studio Don, there was BiggaBush Free and Sound Sensation on Stereo Deluxe not forgetting his Big Chill House Equator Sound System sessions with Guy ‘Eatdubafrobeat‘ Morley.
So not a face out of place and without question, 13 Faces Of Lightning Head is in the top 5 albums of the year. Get it without hesitation.
Reviewed: Lightning Head – 13 Faces Of Lightning Head (Lion Head Records) Cat. No. LHCD010 Release date: September 2008
1. The N.P.G. (The Nigerian Police Groove) (5:50)
2. Afro Spot (5:26)
3. Ilu Baje (Sick State) (3:54)
4. Bokoor Sound Special (4:37)
5. Abyssinia Rising (4:33)
6. Power Of The Great (4:00)
7. Sousaphunk (3:40)
8. Area Boy (3:38)
9. Invisible Twin feat. Earl Zinger (3:15)
10. Hi Life Music (4:10)
11. Preguntas Porque (4:59)
12. Shark Fin Soup feat. Earl Zinger (4:08)
13. Rascal Republic feat. MC Lariman (6:41)
Lightning Head – Studio Don “The phrase ‘Lightning Head’ was something I read in an interview with Lee Perry and for me it captures the idea of being inspired – like not just a little light bulb appearing over your head but a whole bolt of lightning from the heavens, illuminating everything.”
“Smoking hot my friend ,,,,,,,really feeling the 6/8 on on Ilu Baje….also Bokoor Sound Special is Bass HEAVY !!” Gav Smith, Pantone Music, Mr. Bongo, Disorient
“Nice afro-dub infused grooves by the man biggabush – always fresh!” Richard Dorfmeister
“GREAT Release! modern twist to an afro-beat / funk aesthetic. More!”
Tony Nwachukwu, Attica Blues/NEPA Recordings
“I can live without ever hearing another Afrobeat record, but this is among the best I’ve run across by a modern outfit. Like Bokoor Sound Special, will play on the radio”
Charlie Gillett, Sound of the World, BBC Radio