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Album Review

The front cover of this recording is a tad misleading. This is not a William Onyeabor album, but the first full-length in Luaka Bop's and Moog's collaborative remix project. Moog actually made William Onyeabor-branded synthesizers for use by the 21 musicians involved. What?! is the initial full-length in a multi-volume series. Onyeabor's versions of these ten tracks all appeared on World Psychedelic Classics, Vol. 5: Who Is William Onyeabor? Interestingly, this is not strictly a remix album; there are a number of covers here too, such as Hot Chip's opening read of "Atomic Bomb." It's quite good, but the raw bassline and snaky guitars criss-crossing with the various rhythm tracks on the original are sorely missed. There are three remixed versions of "Body and Soul" here by Justin Strauss & Bryan Mette, David Terranova, and Scientist. The first is forgettable; the last is a thumping dubwise version; Terranova's is the most compelling because it melds nu-jazz and house in a such a seamless way, and stands in sharp contrast with the original — only the vocal remains, but even its consonance has been turned inside out — it becomes iconic on its own and is arguably the best track on the set. The Vaccines' rework of "Heaven and Hell" (retitled "Do You Want a Man?") contains the original drum breaks, organ, and guitars, but they've all been mixed way down to allow the new synth lines and vocals to come to the fore with a new bridge added. It's far more polished than the source cut, and has its own pop appeal. But it doesn't match the infectiousness, tunefulness, and danceability of the original; it isn't supposed to. The thoroughly revisioned cover of "Why Go to War" by JD Twitch (aka Optimo) uses an exceptionally nasty Moog bassline and funky synthetic organ lines to make it a highlight. Ultimately, What?!, like most remix albums, is a mixed bag. When it works — which is far more often than not — it adds mystery to and a 21st century affirmation of Onyeabor's idiosyncratic and timeless musical vision.

Customer Reviews

Just Wow….

This perked up my day immensely and I know nothing of WO but I bought it immediately. Get it now. Such heavy rotation today and wonderful songs. Yea, simple review.


Not only is this not William Onyeabor its boring and drab and tedious remix hell being sold as if it was William Onyeabor.
It’s just fraudulent garbage riding on the name of another musician who doubtless is possessed of greater talent than this drivel.


Born: March 29, 1946 in Lagos, Nigeria

Genre: Funk

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '10s

William Onyeabor was an iconic figure in the history of Nigerian pop music. He was considered the father of Nigerian electro Afro-funk. His biography has been shrouded in mystery due to his own refusal to discuss it or his music since becoming a born-again Christian in the middle of the 1980s and retiring to pursue a career as a businessman running his own flour mill. What we do know is that he was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1946. His musical education began early on the piano and organ. In the...
Full Bio
What?!, William Onyeabor
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