Vinyl Me, Please is now selling a limited edition colored version of Jake Sollo’s Boogie Legs, an afro-boogie classic that has remained elusive, expensive on Discogs, and out of print, until it was recently rescued by our pals at Tidal Waves Music. You can grab our edition of the album over here right now, and read below for more background on the album.
The first thing you notice is the bass: buoyant, stodgy enough to make Paul Hollywood cough, flipping like Flipper in Zero-G. Then you hear the synth stabs, which sound like falling stars colliding with a pile of glitter. Then the vocals, light, grumbly, perfect. That’s Jake Sollo in a nutshell more or less; the king of “Boogie Legs” who made a series of incredible afro-boogie albums in Nigeria in the ‘70s and ‘80s. I’ll get out of the way for a second and let you hear this:
Sollo--real name Nkem Okonkwo--started as a member of a popular Nigerian rock band called the Hykkers, before moving onto being in the Funkees, pre-1975 Nigeria’s biggest band, thanks to cosigns as far away as John Peel in England. Before he’d go off on his afro-boogie walkabout, Sollo was in the legendary group Osibisa for a few months. But all of that was a precursor to his solo music, which started in earnest while he was working as a producer and session man in the U.K., being influenced by disco, Rick James, and all the collision of music and culture that was music in Africa and the U.K. at the time.
His signature sound came through his work with the Prophet “V” synthesizer, the first musical instrument with a microprocessor. With the Prophet, Sollo made synth masterpieces that have since been rescued by crate-diggers the world over; none of his albums sell for under a few hundred bucks in their original form. He may have had one of only two Prophets in all of Africa; William Onyeabor had the other.
Sollo’s masterpiece is undoubtedly Boogie Legs, his 1980 album centered around its title track and his biggest hit. But for my money, “Shake Your Ya-Ya” gets short shrift.
Unfortunately, Boogie Legs was Sollo’s last album, as he died in a car accident in 1985. But his albums have become talismans for funk-lovers, and for people who love African music that hits different.