The Lijadu Sisters – “Bayi L’ense”
We are very fortunate to have Knitting Factory Records reissuing four of the classic Afrodisia Lijadu Sisters’ albums on LP/CD. The second re-release is 1977’s Mother Africa. This album features a different approach than their first record, Danger, which is heavy with funky Afro-rock beats. Mother Africa is primarily an acoustic affair which owes less to funk and more to traditional Yoruba music. Biddy Wright, who played many of the instruments on Danger, is back on acoustic and electric guitar and the band features talking drums and shekere. While most of the lyrics on Danger were sung in English, on Mother Africa Kehinde and Taiwo sing mostly in Yoruba.
“We didn’t really plan for Mother Africa to be in this style. It just developed that way. In the studio, we go with the spirit.” – Kehinde
The album opens and closes with two versions of “Osupa,” which is sung to the moon, asking her to light up the night, as she did when people sat outside their houses eating and storytelling, in earlier times. The first version, “Osupa I,” is a strictly acoustic song, whereas “Osupa II” features Biddy Wright’s killer electric guitar. The second track, “Iya Mi Jowo” (“mother please”), is a rearrangement of the Lijadu Sisters’ original 1968 recording for Decca. This was the first song that Taiwo wrote, when she and her identical twin sister noticed their mother was acting cold to them. The lyrics include, “whatever I have done to sadden you, mother, please, forgive me.” The third track, “Bayi L’ense,” reverts back to the funkier side of Danger, with Biddy providing some excellent electric guitar and bass. The song resonates with contemporary apala, fuji and waka music and addresses the “two-faced people” who used to criticize Taiwo for dating the white musician, Ginger Baker. “Dibe Nuwa” is sung in Yoruba and Ibo, and is a plea for peace in the world. The 1967-70 civil war between Federal Nigeria and its eastern state, Biafra (the home of the Ibo people), was still fresh in Nigerian minds, and its memory was influential in this song. Have a listen to “Bayi L’ense” above and purchase Mother Africa on LP/CD at your favorite record store.