Not all illegal bootleg stories have such a happy ending. However, thanks to Soundway Records, Steve Monite is witnessing his 1984 album ‘Only You’ be officially reissued for the first time. At the time of its original release the Nigerian disco / boogie album, recorded at EMI Studios in Lagos, fell on deaf ears due to Monite’s Western musical influences and his use of electronic instruments such as the Moog. “When my record came out, everything went cold” reported Monite.
In the following years Monite resigned to the fact that his musical career wasn’t going to reach the echelons he had once dreamt of back at school in Benin, where his fellow peers would ask him to sing in return for soft drinks and money. In 1987, faced with increasing political turmoil and high unemployment in Nigeria, Monite moved back to London where he had previously lived and recorded his first demo tape in 1982. This time it wasn’t to pursue a record deal but to start a family living nearby his brother and other relatives who had already emigrated to the UK.
However, it was far from over for Monite. In the last 6 years the title track ‘Only You’ began to be picked up by a younger generation of DJs, artists and label managers. In 2016 Soundway Records included ‘Only You’ in their compilation ‘Doing It In Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980s Nigeria‘, which successfully placed Lagos alongside the US as one of the epicentres of this musical and cultural movement. The following year, PMG released a bootleg vinyl, selling thousands of copies without Monite’s consent. The track’s popularity surged all the more when RnB star Frank Ocean covered it at FYF festival that same summer. Monite felt there was nothing he could do but sit and watch the views on YouTube sky rocket. He thought to himself “let the youth enjoy it”.
However, off the back of the success of the compilation, Soundway began to work with Monite on reissuing the full album, complete with equally funky tracks ‘Things Fall Apart’, ‘I Had A Dream’ and ‘Welcome My Love’. The Carvery were honoured to be part of this journey, inviting Monite into the studio with Frank Merritt to fully restore, remaster and cut this highly coveted record.
Monite still has a house in Lagos where he plans to move to in the not-so-distant future with the new dream of building a Mecca for musicians to come and record there.
The vinyl reissue along with its digital counterpart is available now for pre-order via Soundway Records.