As we make digitally available for the first time some of Sterns Music's first ever releases we take a look back at those exciting times in the early eighties.
Sterns did not have the resources of Chris Blackwell's Island Records, but that did not deter the UK's first fledgeling record label devoting itself to popular African music from throwing everything we did have at the time into the mix. Stunning cover art from Kofi Ankobra, the son of radical white South Africans who grew up in Ghana and had studied art at Oshogbo, Nigeria, coincidentally the birthplace of Segun, and performances in the UK and Europe that were road-managed by Charles Easmon.
Keeping a 21-piece group on the road, comprising musicians who'd rarely been outside of Nigeria let alone to Europe, was a work of art in itself and the stories are legion. Needless to say it couldn't last, and despite the best efforts of Don Bay, Robert Urbanus and Charles at Sterns, it didn't. Nevertheless the two albums that Sterns released from this time – here, for digital release for the first time, each with extra tracks previously unreleased outside of Africa – are a testament to the energy of the times and surprisingly but gratifyingly, sound as fresh today as they did then. With current interest in West African music, it's good to note that at least as regards Nigeria, it hasn't always been “Fela! A New Musical”
In his own words co-founder of Sterns Music Charles Easmon dips into the past and remembers those heady days touring with Segun Adewale:
"Back in the early eighties, Nigerian juju music made its way into the international arena with the 1984 Island Records release of Synchro System by King Sunny Ade. European and US tours soon followed. Back in Lagos, a new generation of musicians with a harder sound was rising to challenge the masters, King Sunny Ade, Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, I.K.Dairo, and Prince Adekunle.
Play for Me now available to download on iTunes:
Ojo Je now available to download on iTunes: