Lijadu Sisters, Double Trouble

IMG_0267 by you.

There is much to love about the Lijadu Sisters, identical twins of entirely self-determined nature who sing like birds, albeit carnivorous birds with roomy lungs. The sisters raised a brood of four kids, none of whom allegedly knew which Lijadu sister, either Kehinde or Taiwo, was their respective mom. The Lijadu Sisters seemed to be well in control of their professional destiny and critical of the colonial mentality that pervaded Nigerian record companies. They also had little patience for the male chauvinism that was seemingly part of the furniture in their native Nigeria.

The Lijadu Sisters also featured in one of my favorite music documentaries, Konkombé. The work of English director Jeremy Marre, Konkombé was the Nigerian installment in his 14-episode world music series, Beats of the Heart, which ran often on PBS during the late '80s. The three chapters concerning the black diaspora (Jamaica, South Africa and Nigeria) held the best blend of musical, political and cultural content, and of this trio Konkombé was beyond fabulous. It was loaded stem to stern with great performances, fascinating archival footage, revealing interviews and near-palpable neighborhood funk. (With much of the last; speaking at New York's Museum of Natural History, Marre described the horrors — corpses left in front yards —routinely encountered during his Nigerian shoot.)

The Lijadus are seen taking care of their kids and rehearsing in the side yard of their house. Without much accompaniment beyond a couple of talking drums and acoustic guitar, the sisters sing in unison, laid-back and vibrantly erotic in the same breath: "If you want to…you can touch me." Then the camera invades a session with the Lijadu Sisters at the cramped, over-heated Lagos recording studio run by their record company, Decca West Africa. The same song is being recorded, but feels rushed, not nearly the wonderfully loose-limbed affair heard a few minutes previous. Aside from coping with their crumby work environment, the sisters do battle with their overbearing producer (a Nigerian version of the evil producer portrayed so well by Lou Reed in Paul Simon's otherwise regrettable film, One Trick Pony). It's a wonder Kehinde and Taiwo got anything done at all, much less music of the quality heard on today's download.

Double Trouble, released in the U.S. by the Shanachie label in 1984, compiled tracks from then-recent albums (Danger, Horizon Unlimited) by the sisters. Though obviously working in the same climate that gave rise to Afrobeat, being the great invention of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and drummer Tony Allen, the Lijadu twins drew additional rhythmic inspiration from reggae and West African high life.

The last I had heard of the Lijadus, both sisters had moved to Brooklyn, possibly in the late '80s. They played some dates at Wetlands, the lower Manhattan club-as-Petri-dish partially responsible for culturing the jam band plague. They also did a gig in Harlem, with King Sunny Adé's African Beats as their backing band; first on the bill was Robert Farris Thompson, noted Africanist and author of a genuinely deathless work, Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy.

Unfortunately, that's the last I'd heard of them. It would be a dreadful shame if their fate mirrored that of another great African singer, Bebe Manga. The latter's epic "Amie-o" has been revived of late on the Golden Afrique Vol. 1 compilation, yet Bebe Manga's career seemed to end with her own move to Brooklyn. Much as I loathe Bob Dylan, I am reminded of his line about pitying immigrants who wished that they'd stayed home. Hopefully, the Lijadu Sisters are still up to something good.


It never fails to amaze me, but there are humans — sentient types with driver's licenses and all, individuals presumably capable of dressing up and going places — who still have not twigged to the fact that there is music to be had from this site. So, with the consummate subtlety of a flying anvil, I will list the following and remind all concerned to check out the final link always, as encoded in the album title at the end of each entry. And there are new entries planned for the near future, "If we are spared," as my Scottish grandmother used to say. Oh, my grandmother, fun at parties…


Blogger guitxe said...

would you be so kind as to repost the recording of Demola Adepoju? i was blown away by King Sunny Adé & His African Beats records and would love to hear this one by pedal steel guitar player Demola Adepoju. thanx in advance from argentina.

11:26 AM  
Blogger guitxe said...

thank you very very much for reposting Demola's album. a friend of mine asks if you have any Gamelan records to post. excelent blog, by the way. enlightening.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

It's nice here. Thanks so much for your intelligent and insightful comments that accompany the music. It's an education!

5:06 PM  
Blogger B2V said...

merci ! c'est un peu galère cette histoire de rapid share
mais l'effort est à la mesure du bonheur d'écouter votre sélection...

8:31 AM  
Anonymous yo said...

fantastic blog, reeshard! thanks for all of the great music.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous SL said...

Glad to see that your blog is back in action! I've loved every post I've checked out here.

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

these Lijadu Sisters are fabulous !
Thanks for this discovery !

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to be a killjoy but of all the albums you've "rapidshared" with us (and I'm more than grateful for it) this one is the only one that disapointed me.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous black coffee said...

Ignore the killjoy, Reeshard. I think the LP is fantastic!

1:34 PM  
Blogger zhao said...

oh my lord... I had just discovered this treasure trove and was digging in the archives for links that still work... overjoyed at each one still fresh, and sad at each expired... and did not notice these re-posts until now! :D :D :D

now to find time to read all of the interesting writing...

8:54 PM  
Blogger zhao said...

I posted your blog on dissensus.com, a forum where music geeks gather, on April 20th. just curious to see if you notice an increase in traffic. cheers!

5:02 PM  
Blogger AFKAP of Darkness said...

interesting take on the contrast between the live performance and the studio recording in Konkombe. my feeling has always been more or less the same: i wish Taiwo and Kehinde had more recordings along the lines of the stripped-down "you can touch me," accompanied only by acoustic guitars and juju drums.

Odion's productions for the Lijadu's always seemed to be a bit over-produced, but i think Danger is quite a fine album (i can't dig it out of the crates right now to check who gets the production credit on that one)

i myself have often toyed with the idea of going to Brooklyn to hunt the twins down and coax them back into the recording studio... but whatever they are doing right now, i hope they're happy.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Knock knock...anyone home? You've left us hanging here!

3:07 AM  
Blogger Dinko said...

here are few links for out of print african albums (not sure if they still work,but worth a try):

12:19 AM  
Blogger zhao said...

if what the name of this blog procaims is true... then it follows that the author will return SOME time to continue posting.

am I right or am I right?

2:27 AM  
Anonymous aduna said...

Give us some more, pleaaaaase.


4:56 AM  
Blogger dj earball said...

Many thanks for these - listening to the Lijadus now -- i love their sound! I have run across them here and there in the past, including on the great Afrobeat compilation Nigeria 70, which includes "Orere Eljigbo." Great to hear more! Thanks for the articulate blog, and keep posting! And if you like this, drop by SoundRoots, my world music blog, for more great global sounds.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy crap, I've just found the Grail!!!! I have a lot of arcane African frisbees, but I'm bowled over at the moment

thanks!!! hideo

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Parker Catalano said...

Some of the best muic throughout history has been created by siblings working either in a band together or by themselves. I am eager to see what this album sounds like, thanks.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Lijadu Sisters are wonderful! Does anyone have a track list for the "Danger" LP, perchance? I have the tracks, but don't know what order they go in, and I think there is something to how an album is sequenced. I would love to get my mittens on "Horizon Unlimited" also.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Wojtek said...

hey, ive just came across this blog while googling for some info on lijadu sisters. i have only "orere elejigbo" and ive been dancing all over my apartment for an hour now with this track on repeat lol! the rapidshare link to their album is not working anymore. can someone PLEASE hook me up either by email brudmag at gmail dot com or on soulseek (username: dizko_muzik). PLEASE!
big respect for this info, ill be now a regular visitor here.
peace from Poland

7:09 AM  
Blogger olojo3 said...

Great! The Lijadu twins were fantastic! Would love to say hi to their first daughter, Enitan, who was a good friend whilst staying at granny's at Ipaja with her siblings.

4:15 AM  
Anonymous Trevor said...

I'd been daydreaming about this album since hearing Orere-Elejigbo a few years back - this is a most appreciated present!

12:26 PM  
Blogger Raphael Jackson said...

I have been impressed with your music ever since I saw a documentary on Nigerian music.
I have a radio program which plays all African music. It is WPUL 1590 AM. I would like to play some of your music
Dr. Jazz Please contact us

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Poshwoman said...

Any news about the Lijadu Sisters? Growing up in the 80's, their diamond voices were always a beauty to listen to, especially with the African talking drums!

2:53 PM  
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6:04 AM  
Blogger ToniK said...

sick lp, thanks for the up

10:39 AM  
Blogger o'tayo said...

love to read about the lijadu sisters.. pls could there be ways of contacting them? pls help with there contact. tayo

5:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Sisters are well and appreciate that they are still loved by their fans. I speak with them often and will pass along your regards...

9:34 PM  
Blogger bobbysu said...

thank you very much

6:44 PM  

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