Vinyl Me, Please: What makes these three albums representative of the Mr. Bongo catalog to you?
David Buttle: Although they are all from the same country — Nigeria, the home of afrobeat and Fela Kuti — I feel these albums showcase different styles to introduce your members to the variety that Nigerian music has. From the melodic Disco boogie sound of, say, Tunde [Mabadu]’s “Disco Press Funk” through to the heavyweight funk of Super Elcados, and the club classic, the hypnotic “Agboju Logun” by Shina Williams.
Can you tell me how you found each three? They're all pretty rare albums that sell for insane prices on Discogs in their original form. And the only album on Spotify is Super Elcados.
Tunde I found a perfect copy on eBay. I had heard rumors about the album and never heard it until I bought it, which is pretty rare these days with YouTube having nearly every record up. I was just blown away when I heard it — every track a killer and getting better on each listen. Then we tracked Tunde down and presto.
Super Elcados I loved but I was never able to get a good copy until I met David Hill, who runs an art gallery in London. He had a mint copy and he sent me some rips and it sounded so heavy. So I got hold of the band leader Geoffrey Johnson and signed it up straight away.
For Shina Williams, I had had the Rough Trade 12-inch of “Agboju Logun” for years and always played whilst DJing back in the ’90s. Then, when I listened to the whole LP, I realized this had to come out. It’s a Holy Grail piece.
For the uninitiated, how would you describe the Mr. Bongo ethos?
We aim to deliver the finest quality reissues taken from the best source material. Each release is designed exactly as the original so when you take the wrap off, it’s like walking into a store in the ’70s and picking it out [of] the racks.