Chapter One
Sortie le 24 septembre 2013
Label : Mr Bongo
Chapter One est le premier album de Blo (pour Berkeley Laolu Odumosu), sorti chez EMI en 1973. Probablement le premier rock trio originaire d’Afrique, ses membres – Berkely ‘Ike’ Jones à la guitare, laolu ‘Akins’ Akintobi à la batterie et Mike ‘Gbenga’ Odumosu à la basse – bénéficiaient d’un parcours peu commun pour des musiciens africains à cette époque.
Chapter One est le premier album de Blo (pour Berkeley Laolu Odumosu), sorti chez EMI en 1973. Probablement le premier rock trio originaire d’Afrique, ses membres – Berkely ‘Ike’ Jones à la guitare, laolu ‘Akins’ Akintobi à la batterie et Mike ‘Gbenga’ Odumosu à la basse – bénéficiaient d’un parcours peu commun pour des musiciens africains à cette époque.

Le groove de cet album a suscité pendant des années beaucoup d’intérêt auprès du public : huit titres d’un afro-rock addictif qui mêlent les influences afro-beat du groupe à la musique psychédélique occidentale, au rock et au funk de la fin des années 60. Huit titres de légende qui ont donné naissance à l’un des meilleurs albums rock d’Afrique.

Les trois comparses se connaissaient depuis le lycée à Lagos au Nigeria où ils avaient d’ailleurs monté un groupe, The Clusters, influencés par James Brown ou The Rolling Stones tout en mixant afrorock, rumba, highlife et soul. Puis prenant une direction encore plus rock ils montèrent Afrocollection. A cette époque, Ginger Baker, batteur de Cream en villégiature à Lagos les voit sur scène et c’est la claque. Il va alors les recruter pour créer Salt et tournée en Europe et aux Etats Unis. Salt ne sera jamais enregistré et le groupe se sépare en 1972.

C’est à cette époque de Blo est crée et signe un premier chapitre chez EMI.

Sublimant la formation en trio du groupe, Chapter One comprend des lignes de guitare remarquablement travaillées par Jones, distortionnées et brutes à la fois, qui rappellent les plus grands titres rock occidentaux ; le tout soutenu par le jeu funky d’Akintobi à la batterie et d’Odumosu à la basse.

De nombreux titres sont remarquables par l’équilibre qui règne entre l’inspiration rock originelle du groupe et ses nouvelles influences psychédéliques et mystiques.

Chapter One ne compte officiellement qu’un seul titre instrumental, « Miss Sagitt » aux influences arabes prononcées, néanmoins les voix sont loin d’être l’élément dominant de cet album mais fonctionnent davantage comme un élément rythmique additionnel que le trio déploie avec un dosage minutieux.

Malgré le fait qu’il est considéré aujourd’hui comme un des meilleurs albums africains, Chapter One connu un succès modéré lors de sa sortie, ce qui conduisit à l’époque le groupe à changer de label et à se concentrer sur un son plus funk. C’est pourquoi Chapter One se révèle une des pièces les plus rares et les plus belles du rock psychédélique Africain, certaines copies originales pouvant se vendre jusqu’à 4000 dollars.

Date de sortie : 16 Septembre 2013 - MRBCD106 - 711969127423 . MRBLP106 -


En écoute sur SoundCloud :

Blo Biography

Blo were a trio from Nigeria, the name an acronym of the founding members’ names – Berkely ‘Ike’ Jones on guitar, Laolu ‘Akins’ Akintobi on drums and Mike ‘Gbenga’ Odumosu on bass. Accruing fame over the years for their unique blend of afro-beat, funk, rock and psychedelia, they are also notable for being the first rock trio to emerge from Africa.

The band members got their first taste of music in different high school bands from Lagos, in Nigeria, but later came together in a band called The Clusters which Akintobi remembers as being more a group of youths getting together and living their dreams of being pop stars than a serious musical endeavour. In their beginnings they took inspiration from the British rock invasion spearheaded by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones as well as the Soul/funk of James Brown before moving to a blend of afro-rock and highlife following an encounter with Gerald Pino’s Heartbeats Band from Sierra Leone, who at the time were mixing rumba with soul and rock. The Clusters ended up supporting Pino’s band that also impacted them by the equipment he’d brought into the country.

In 1970 the three members left The Clusters and joined the band Afro Collection alongside the Lijadus sisters, a band put together by Swiss musician Tee Mac who at the time also worked with Silver Collection. It was during this time that Jones, Akintobi and Odumosu would meet Ginger Baker who was visiting Nigeria in the early 70s and found them during one of their Sunday matinee sessions in the heart of Lagos Island. Baker jammed with them and proved so enamoured with the work during this first visit to Nigeria that he decided to form an all-African group on his second visit, adding two British horn players to the mix. The group became known as Ginger Baker and Salt, forming in the first half of 1972 and rehearsing for months before embarking on a world tour that started at Fela Kuti’s Afro Spot in Yaba, Lagos and then went on to include shows in Europe, Canada and the USA. Upon the band’s return to Nigeria in October 1972 they disbanded and the trio decided to form Blo.

Blo’s formation wasn’t just accidental or spontaneous. Having worked together and become friends over the years, upon their return to Nigeria the three members discussed the need to have a new concept, new formation and radical approach to how African groups had formed and operated until now. A desire to be original and different in both their sound and image led to their formation as a trio, the first of its kind in Africa where most bands followed an orchestral format. Their sound, it was decided, would also be entirely original with no copying and a combination of rock with African influences in the rhythms and songs. This unique sonic approach ultimately led to their music being tagged as afro-rock by the media of the times.

Following their first performance as Blo in December 1972 in front of 10,000 people at Onikan Stadium – the largest audience in Nigerian music’s history – they released a debut album, Chapter One, on EMI in early 1973. The album featured the trio’s unique blend of rock, funk and psychedelic influences merged with their African traditions. Recorded and performed entirely as a trio it would go on to become one of the most sought after African records of its time despite performing poorly and ultimately leading to their switching from EMI to Decca subsidiary Afrodisia, who released their second album, Phase II, in 1975.

On Phase II the band brought in a number of other session musicians to handle keyboards and congas following a decision to enrich the music without needing to expand the band’s line up. As Laolu recalls Phase II was recorded in nine sessions of 12 hours each and the album was a huge success. Later in 1975 they released their third album, Step Three, with a change in line up that saw the O in Blo, Odumosu, leave to join Osibisa and replaced with Biddy ‘Oladele’ Wright who played bass as well as saxophone. In addition to this change in line up Tunde Williams, from Fela Kuti’s 70s band, also played trumpet on the Step Three album sessions and the band had an external producer, Keith Whitting, assigned by their label. This resulted in an album that was markedly different from their previous records, wider in scope.

The third album gamble unfortunately did not pay off and once again the band suffered poor album sales and the pair of Laolu and Berkely moved to London to and continued with their music careers under the management of Velvet Management owned and run by Cliff Cooper while also taking time to study sound production and recording techniques. They met with session musician Lemmy ’Otu’ Udofa (Lemmy Jackson) with whom they put the band back together. This led to the release of Phase IV in 1976. The album featured friends like Teddy Ossei, Late Mac Tontoh and colleagues from Osibisa plus Ray Allen on Saxophone. The band then released a further two records, Bulky Backside in 1980 and Back In Time in 1982, before finally disbanding for quietly.

Upon their return to Nigeria in 1982 they set up a production company, BLO Productions, which recorded several hits, and supported young local artists. Berkely Jones ‘B’ then branched out and became an interior designer and developer in Lagos, Wright passed away, Mike Odumosu ‘O’ settled in London following his days with Osibisa and Laolu Akintobi ‘L’ continues to work as a producer. He took charge at Sony Music Entertainment Nigeria as Head Artist & Repertoire department for close to nine years overseeing the successes of many top artists in the company. He presently runs Excel Pro-Audio Resources, an independent music production pad in Lagos, working as producer/ counsellor to established, young and growing artists, as well as helping to promote old and new music from his country Nigeria through licensing.