Song Of The Day: 12.2.13

William Onyeabor – “Good Name”


Who is William Onyeabor? That seems to be the question David Byrne’s Luaka Bob Records has been asking for a couple of years now.  They mysterious Nigerian musician, who released a total of 8 albums from 1978 – 1985, has revealed very little information about himself, his past or his musical career.  What we do know (or think we know) is that William studied film in Russia and later released a self financed movie.  Currently, some say he’s in Sweden where his has business interests, other say he’s a mogul in the flour industry in West Africa.  The only thing that seems to be concrete to us is his valuable music career where he was recording and releasing music  under his own label Wilfilms, something he left behind  in 1985, the year he became a born again Christian.  Today you can find his music on several compilations highlighting West Africa’s “golden age” music, a time  in which William Onyeabor was an extremely influential figure…or you can try to buy one of his high in demand records from one of his dedicated international fans – but be warned, his records sell for up to $500.  Interesting back story yes, but more importantly, Onyeabor’s music is what’s truly delightful.  In every sense of the phrase, the music seeping out of his synth heavy futurist soul sounds, with driving rhythms leading his songs to sometimes epic levels, was a head of its time.  Like really far ahead of its time. With one listen of Onyeabor’s music, not only can you hear the many similar influences of the time (Tom Tom Club, Gang Of Four, Giargia Moroder) but you can hear a lot of modern music  (Arcade Fire’s Relektor, Yeasayer) that has come from the same worldly ethos that exists inside William Onyeabor’s melodious twang.  So let me introduce the man himself and his wildly inventive sound with the song “Good Name,” taken from the 2013 release Who Is William Onyeabor? released via Luaka Bob Records.