Paul Edoh's Class Breakers artist

Paul Edoh's Class Breakers Paul Chukuwma Edoh (1939 - 1996) moved to Europe from the short-lived West African break away republic Biafra, in the eastern regions of Nigeria, during the early 1960s. The road led to swinging London. Club Afrique on Wardour Street, was a place where Nigerian musicians meet for jazz sessions on Sunday afternoons. Here Paul met several like-minded and he started playing congas with the band African Messengers who also included outstanding musicians like Peter King, saxophonist Humphrey Okoh, trumpetist Mike Falana, bassist David 'Happy' Williams and drummer James Menin. The African Messengers mixed jazz with African highlife and toured all over Europe, even winning the World International Jazz Contest in Switzerland in 1964. They were considered the most prominent band in their genre and one can now hear their in 1964 single release; 'Highlife Piccadilly', on the compilation 'London Is The Place For Me. In London, Paul met Birgitta from Sweden and followed her home in 1969 so that they could get married. They settled in Linköping and Paul soon started playing with a local dance band. The young 18-year-old Linköping musician Wilhard Lang, who had been playing for a while with his one year younger childhood friend, the talented guitarist Arne Johansson, was very eager to get together a real band. Wilhard soon learned that the great drummer Paul Edoh had moved in and became determined to save him from the lame dance band so that they could start a real progressive band. Wilhard went to see the dance band one evening and spoke to Paul. He was even invited to come and hang in Paul's home after the show and they chatted and listened to some great records, including Tony Williams Lifetime. Wilhard suggested that they start playing together and Paul said he would like to come by and check them out.. Some days later he did and after listening for a while Paul exclaimed; - Well, I'll quit that fucking dance band and we'll start a trio. Soon they started jamming and composing their own songs . Many times this began with Paul singing the rhythm and the others followed. After awhile, they realized that it would be good to expand the setting with an organist and Arne brought along his friend Lars-Göran Gustavsson. Lars-Görna had previously been a guitarist but had now really gotten in to keyboards and acquired a Hammond L-100 organ with a Leslie cabinet. With the band now complete, they started gigging . Paul Edo’s Classbreakers mostly played Linköping, Norrköping, Tranås and also at a bigger festival in Umeå. They travelled around in their Ford Mustang with a specially adapted trailer, with the band logo, that carried their instruments and their massive backline of all Marshall amps and cabinets. But this was around the same time as the first discotheque wave swept across Sweden, when performing live bands was mostly exchanged by DJs. This dramatically reduced the work for artists like Classbreakers and they experienced how many other bands simply folded. But the Classbreakers had a firm foot in Linköping's elite clubs; Maxim and Moby Dick, where they and the other heavy local bands; Mendoza and Madison Drive, had regular bookings. The Classbreakers, however, was clearly the most unique band that performed exclusively self-penned material and with a strong African influence. With the gigs in place wouldn’t it be good to step things up a bit by maybe getting a record out. Paul had come into contact with Nils-Bertil Andersson from Överum who ran his own music studio, the Nila Studio, from a small cellar basement The studio equipment included something as unusual as a vinyl gramophone disc cutting machine that Nils-Bertil incredibly enough had built himself. He talks about it in interviews in some local magazines from the time. Nils-Bertil attests to that a commercially produced disc cutting machine would surely costs up to half a million Swedish Krona, which was an incredibly large amount, to purchase and so the only thing left was to build one himself. One early autumn morning in 1970, they loaded up their Ford Mustang headed for the Nila-studio on route to a gig in Norrköping later in the evening. The plan was to record two of their songs. The band set up all their equipment in a semicircle in the studio and started playing their two well-rehearsed songs. They figured that they could quickly record both songs on the first take. Of course the Classbreakers nailed it but unfortunately the Nila studio wasn’t up to par. What was thought to be a quick job turned out to be very time consuming, as there were many unexpected technical problems in the studio. After each perfect take by the band they were forced to replay it over and over as there were constant errors with the recording equipment. This was very frustrating for the guys in the band and not only were they growing tired of the whole thing, they were also starting to run late for their show in Norrköping. This stressed them out even more and in the end they simply decided that it did not work . In a last desperate effort Paul added an overdub with congas after which they speedily took of to the discotheque Översten in Norrköping without even listening to a playback of the recording. The songs they reordered were group compositions where the basis came from Paul singing the rhythm. 'Africa Speaks - Sweden Answers' is based on a local traditional African melody from the region where Paul grew up. The year after Paul and the others in the band got a shock when they heard Osibisa's debut album, that included a song called 'Ayiko Bia', which featured the same basic melody. It seems both bands had gotten inspiration from the same traditional African melody. But the band had gotten and even bigger shock back in 1970 when they finally got to hear the mix-down of their recordings. It didn’t sound at all like the band did live. The sound was thin and the version that was recorded was one where the band had already gotten fed up with the technical difficulties in the studio and more or less given up. Even more surprisingly the music was on an actual vinyl single that Paul had gotten from the studio. This was of course because the Nila-studio had its own record cutting machine so that they were able to produce the discs directly themselves Even though there was interest from a record label in Denmark, they all agreed that the recording was so bad, and contained really poorly performed takes, that it was definitely not to be released. The remaining copies of the white-label test press single remained in the small basement cellar studio in Överum. Eventually that single became the rarest and most sought after vinyl singe of the first Swedish psychedelic era only whispered about by the most in the know record collectors. That I now release the recordings, sourced from the original master-tape, despite their shortcomings, is of course because they contain some fantastic and original music. This recording is a unique document from an alternative underground music movement in Sweden. In 1971, the Classbreakers entered a pop band contest in Motala where the jury consisted of the members from the most famous Swedish pop band at the time; Hep Stars. Unfortunately the Classbreakers didn’t win but were definitely considered the most interesting of the bands, as described in an article by Gunnar Bengtsson in the local newspaper Östgötakorrespondenten 1971; "Paul Edoh Classbreakers – a band from Linköping with their own sound. Paul Edoh Classbreakers has an ordinary setting; guitar, organ, bass and drums. But the band belongs to the few local pop orchestras that has it’s own sound and succeeds in producing certain innovations within the framework of their knowledge. The band has been playing together for almost eight months. During this time they have managed to develop a relatively unique style, thanks to Paul Edoh himself. Through his knowledge of African folk music he has had the opportunity incorporate these themes in his music. These themes has then been reworked to suit the pop music. Paul Edoh is allegedly somewhere between 17 and 27 years old and plays the drums. He has previously played rhythm instruments in other orchestras, preferably the congas. The guitarist in Paul Edoh Classbreakers is Arne Johansson who is 18 years old. He has played the guitar for six years and his role model is Jimi Hendrix. Arne was one of the contributing reasons to the band's good position in the pop competition, he was named by the jury as "one of the few musicians who uses the inside of the head when he plays". On bass and vocals we have Wilhard Lang and the organ is handled by Lars Göran Gustavsson. " The gigs at the local discotheques continued, but the guys in the band wished for something bigger would happen. They then came up with the idea that they should all try to move to London. There they would start working with Paul's old musician friend; Humphrey Okoh, who now played with the well-known American vocal group Johnny Johnsson and the Bandwagon, and also his own band Niger. The idea was that Paul, who previously lived in London, and who they thought still held a residence permit in England, should travel their first and arrange things together with Humphrey. Then, Arne and Wilhard would follow so that they could start rehearsing and then go on a tour in Germany that was already being planned. Paul brought his drums and hopped on the boat to England, but once he embarked he immediately got in problems with the customs. It was suspected that he would work as a musician, which of course was the case but nothing that was permitted without a work permit. Since Paul had gotten married in Sweden and become a Swedish citizen this was not the case and he had to return back on the next boat. This was the last straw for the guys and they felt they were loosing the spark. The band finally disbanded completely when Paul, and a little later also Wilhard, moved to Stockholm to seek fame and fortune in the big city. Arne, on the other hand, had had enough of the music industry and started working as a truck driver. He only came to pick up the guitar again much later after retiring. Paul and Wilhard started playing with the Nigerian saxophonist and composer Chris Dele Okonkwo in Stockholm. They appeared on Lennart Swahn's TV show ‘Immigration Music’ on national TV. The band also played at one of the bigger venues in town, the amusement park Gröna Lund, on the national holiday May 1 dressed in African clothing The only problem was that this was an unusually cold May day and the stage was actually covered with ice. Later Paul and Wilhard formed the band Sababas and made some sporadic gigs where they continued evolving the sound which they first had started with Paul Edoh's Classbreakers.