Betty & The Code Red


Emotional Rescue • 1987

»Akure« is a love child. To begin with, it is the product of the relationship between two musicians: Betty Ajagun and Tunde Obazee. The two met at a young age in Nigeria. Not yet 14 years old, Obazee emigrated in the 60s. Ajagun later followed to the USA. The two married, had children, played music. Since Obazee was considered an »illegal migrant« by the States, the two had to make due with little money. It wasn’t until 1985 that they were able to record some songs on tapes. Most never saw the light of day. Now, Emotional Rescue has released eight tracks on two EPs. The label treats »Akure« and »Wishful Thinking« with the dedication of adoptive parents. A new home is supposed to bring »the best« out of the orphaned tunes. Loudly remastered, they spin in new splendor. The title track »Akure« offers an Afrobeat earworm. Playful lo-fi electronica punctuates Betty Obazee’s full voice, while synthetic drums ground her. A trill whistle pours on the DIY charm. It’s immediately apparent that all the tracks spring from a deep passion for music. Unfortunately, parents tend to be blind to their children’s weaknesses. The 10-minute »Cry Africa« is meandering needlessly, while the Stevie Wonder cover »Is Wrong (Apartheid)« pales next to the original. It’s not a bad cover, but primarily of archival interest. On the other hand, you can’t expect perfection from kids or DIY projects. The ones that engage with them will be enriched anyway.