AfroFunk-Rock from Nigeria
Chapter One was Blo’s debut album, originally released by EMI in 1973. Blo were remarkable for a variety of reasons: they were arguably the first rock trio to emerge from Africa and its members — Berkely ‘Ike’ Jones on guitar, Laolu ‘Akins’ Akintobi on drums and Mike ‘Gbenga’ Odumosu on bass — had a pedigree like few others at the time having worked as part of Ginger Baker’s band Salt in the years leading to their formation in 1972.
Historical facts aside the album’s enduring appeal and significance still resides in the music: eight tracks of infectious afro-rock that took the band’s afro-beat foundations and melded them with the western psychedelia, rock and funk of the late 60s resulting in one of the finest African fusion albums. Making the most of the band’s trio format, Chapter One features outstanding guitar work from Jones, fuzzy, raw and reminiscent of the western greats, backed by the funky interplay of Akintobi’s drums and Odumosu’s bass. Many of the album tracks are remarkable in how they balance a clearly rock inspired drive with an otherworldly, psychedelic vibe. While officially featuring only one instrumental track, the Arabic-tinged Miss Sagitt, vocals are far from the album’s most prominent element, instead functioning more like an additional rhythmic element that the trio deploys in just the right amount.
Despite its standing today as one of the most sought after African albums, Chapter One performed poorly on release leading the band to switch labels and focus on a funkier sound for their follow up. Thus Chapter One remains a rare, and one of the finest, slices of African psychedelic funk.