Today, we’re releasing three limited-edition albums of Nigerian music from our pals at Mr. Bongo, a U.K. reissue label delivering reissued world music records dug from the deepest crates. We’re featuring Super Elcados’ Togetherness Is Always A Good Venture (Tambourine Party Vol. 2) (buy here), Shina Williams & His African Percussionists’ African Dances (buy here) and Tunde Mabadu’s Viva Disco (buy here), three albums that showcase different slices of Nigerian music. You can buy a bundle of all three together here. All three of these albums are super rare in their original forms, and were hard to find till Mr. Bongo opted to reissue them. Below, we talked with Mr. Bongo founder David Buttle about the albums, and how each came to the label’s attention.
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.