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Discography of Rex Lawson

Until his untimely death in the 1970s, Erekosima (Rex Jim) Lawson was a standard-bearer of the Nigerian highlife scene whose tunes achieved popularity across Africa. Of mixed Kalabari and Igbo parentage, he was born in the town of New Kalabar in present-day Rivers State, and got his start in Port Harcourt's Starlite Melody Orchestra, led by "Lord" Eddyson.

By 1960 he was leading his own group, the Nigeraphone Studio Orchestra of Onitsha and had played with the "big names" of Nigerian highlife - Bobby Benson, Roy Chicago, Victor Olaiya and others. With his second group, the Majors Band of Nigeria (variously called the "Mayors Band," and in later years the Rivers Men), he scored innumerable hits over the sixties and early seventies, notably "Jolly Papa," "Adure," "Ibi na Bo," and many others. Of these, the biggest was "Sawale," in pidgen English, which has become an African music standard and been remade numerous times by various artists. Lawson's fluency in various languages and dialects has only enhanced his appeal across class and ethnic lines in West Africa.

After Lawson's death, his backup group The Rivers Men reestablished themselves as the Professional Seagulls Dance Band and recorded several LP's of their own in the 1980s (listed below). 1981's "Soko Soko" was a big hit.

While Rex Lawson is the best-known musician from the Niger River Delta area, there are many other popular musicians from this area, notably Erasmus Jenewari, Anthony Cockson and A.S. Eseduwo, among others.

This discography, while apparently listing all of his Nigerian LP's, in unfortunately incomplete in listing the many 45's and EP's issued during the 1960s and early '70s. Any information on these is much appreciated. - John Beadle

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1960s?
The Mayor's Band Onitsha
Teke Ke Wa Toluma / Tamuno Bo Ibro Ma (7" 45; Nigerphone [Onitsha, Nigeria] NXF 210)
-- Leader, Rex Lawson

1960s?
Majors Dance Band 1st Set Port Harcourt (7" 45; Nigerphone [Onitsha, Nigeria] NXF 270)
Bere Bote / Owuna Derina
-- Leader, Rex Lawson

1960s
Cardinal Rex Lawson & his Band of Nigeria
Baby Play Wayo b/w Dien Ke Wa Pri (7" 45; Nigerphone [Onitsha, Nigeria] NXF-340)

1960s
Cardinal Rex Lawson & his Majors Band of Nigeria
Jolly Papa b/w Abasi Ye Enye (7" 45; Nigerphone [Onitsha, Nigeria] NXF 377)

1960s
Cardinal Rex Lawson & his Majors Band of Nigeria
Onwu Zuru Uwa b/w Osima Owuari (7"45; Nigerphone [Onitsha, Nigeria] NXF 390)

1960s
Cardinal Rex Lawson & his Majors Band of Nigeria
Ese Ayang Iso / Samale Ma (7" 45; Nigerphone [Onitsha, Nigeria] NXF 396)

1960s
Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson & His Band Of Nigeria
Akaso Inyingi / Obo Iyo Wu (7" 45; Philips West Africa [Lagos] 382855 PF (PFN 855))

1960s
Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson & His Band Of Nigeria
Lov'M Adure / Ibari Ikorua (7" 45; Philips West Africa [Lagos] 383053 PF)

1960s?
Rex Lawson and his Majors Band of Nigeria
Suzana Pango b/w So Bo Ibibi Na (7" ; Philips (West African Records) PF383105 )

1960s
Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson & His Band Of Nigeria
Ine Mie Bia Ye Dugoma b/w Mbanga (7" 45; Philips West Africa [Lagos] 383150 PF)

1960s?
Rex Lawson and his Majors Band of Nigeria
Amalnye b/w Jolly Papa (Special Edition) (7" ; Philips [Lagos] PF383555)

Late 1960s?
Various Artists
Top Hits from Nigeria, Vol. 2 (7"EP; Philips [Lagos] 420018 PE)
[A] Onile Gogoro (Roy Chicago & his Rhythm Dandies) / Negro Jazz Cha Cha Cha (Negro Jazz Brazzaville acc. George Orakpo & his Congo Bell)
[B] Adigboloja (Pastor Rex Lawson & his Mayor's Dance Band) / Ngozi Twist (King Kennytone & his Western Toppers Band)

Late 1960s?
Rex Lawson and his Mayor's Dance Band
Dancing Time No. 3 (7" EP; Philips [Lagos] 420019 PE)
[A] ?
[B] ?

Late 1960s?
Various Artists
Top Hits from Nigeria Vol. 3 (7" EP; Philips [Lagos] 420022 PE)
[A] Sawale (Pastor Rex Lawson & his Mayor's Dance Band) / Eni Afe Lamo (Dele Ojo & his Star Brothers Band)
[B] Imarueghe (Edo Orisiagbon Music Union) / Late Shonibare (Kayode Ige & his Mainland Orchestra)

Late 1960s?
Various Artists
West Africa's Big Sound (7" EP; Philips [Lagos] 420023 PE)
[A] Bere Bote (Pastor Rex Lawson & his Mayor's Dance Band) / Easy Life Baby (Easy Life Top Beats)
[B] Twist Festival (King Kennytone & his Top Toppers) / So Fun Mi (Victor Olaiya & his All Stars)

Cardinal Rex Lawson & his Majors Band of Nigeria
Hail Biafra / ? (7" 45; Nigerphone [Onitsha, Nigeria] reference number not known)

According to Dakoru Jack, Lawson was detained by Nigerian Federal Government troops and questioned about this pro-Biafran record: "...His response was and I quote 'I did the song to uplift the rebels.' Now you have to remember that he had a lot of Igbo ties including his mom, band members and his road manager 'Udeaja.' So it was not a surprise that he did 'Hail Biafra.

Lawson's reputed pro-Biafran sympathies are interesting in light of the fact that he later recorded a song, "Major Boro's Sound," in honor of Isaac Adaka Boro, who led an Ijaw separatist rebellion in the Niger River Delta in the mid-1960s, after which he (Boro) was jailed by the Nigerian government. During the Biafran war of independence (1967-70) Boro was pardoned and joined forces with the Federal Government to fight the rebels. He died in action on May 16, 1968. The circumstances of his death are still a matter of fierce debate. "Major Boro's Sound" and "Hail Biafra" have recently been made available on the late 1990s release Rex Lawson Uncensored Vol. 3 - Hail Biafra.

Late 1960s?
Cardinal Rex Lawson & his Mayors Band of Nigeria
Rex Lawson's Victories (10" LP; Philips [Lagos] PR 13408)(12" LP; Philips [Lagos] PRL 13408)
[A] Osuala Oru Enene / Anate / Bere Bote / Akaso Inyinyi / Aye Muba Udeaja
[B] So Ala Temem / Abari Biya / Tamuno Bo Ibro Ma / Ibi Na Bo / Sawale

1970
Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson & his Rivers Men
The Highlife King in London (LP; Philips [Lagos] 6361 002 PL)(LP; Akpola [Benin City, Nigeria] AGB52)
[A] Osima Atoru Korote / Isobye / Imie Te Ke Tamunobe / Tamuno Nwenibo / Uwem Do / Igoin Bo
[B] So Bra Sua Ipri / Angelina Pay Me Money / Serah Nene / Anah I Don Tire / Kusung Kusung / Uru Ene Ne Nyanam
-- While the label of the Akpola reissue gives AGB 52 as the reference number, the sleeve indicates AGB 001.

1970s?
Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson & his Rivers Men
Love "M" Adure Special (LP; Akpola [Benin City, Nigeria] AGB 002)
[A] Jolly Papa Special / Love "M" Adure Special / Saturday Sop Di / Yellow Sisi / Abasi Ye Enye / Nkpake Do Owo
[B] Tom Kiri Siti / Wasenigbo Tua / Ese Ayang Iso / Akwa Abasi / Nume Inye / Peri Special
-- Ofon M. Samson writes of various songs on this LP: "'Saturday Sop Di'...This is about the weekend, he wants Saturday to hurry up and arrive. 'Ese Ayang Iso' is a song about a leper, [about whom] Lawson says, 'Ese Ayang Iso, kuse ikpat,' meaning look at Anyang's face not his/her feet because he/she has a disease.' ... 'Abasi Ye Enye' - this song was supposedly when he lost his child. He said who ever killed my child, God will see him/her. 'Akwa Abasi' - this means 'Almighty God' ...then goes on to talk about John 3:16: 'For God so loved the world ...' 'Nkpa Ke Da Owo' - this song is very touching to me personally.... he's singing about death taking someone way. His band boys did feature on this track and one of them says, 'Death why have you taken our master?Ê Who is going to lead us?.' 'Tom Kiri Site' - 'the world is bad.'"

While the label gives AGB 002 as the reference number, the sleeve indicates AGL 61. The track listings on the sleeve are also different. They are as follows: [A] Love "M" Adure Special / Gowon Special / Saturday Sop Di / Yellow Sisi / Nkpa Ke Da Owo [B] Tom Kiri Site / Wasenigbo Tua / Akwa Abasi / Nume Inye / Peri Special / Mbanga II. The label listing is the correct one. However, this LP was re-issued as a casstte, whose title is 'Rex Lawson and His River Man'. The track listing of the cassette is [A] Love 'M' Adure Special / Gowon Special / Saturday Sop Di / Yellow Sisi / Nkpa Ke Da Owo [B] Tom Kiri Site / Wasenigbo Tua / Akwa Abasi / Nume Inye / Peri Special / Mbanga II. There may have actually been two separate releases. Any information concerning this is much appreciated.

1970s?
Rex Lawson
Rex Lawson's Victories Vol. 2 (LP; Akpola [Benin City, Nigeria] AGB 003)
[A] Unwu Zuru Uwa / Abari Te / Baby Play Me Wayo / Ibi Teme Browmam / Elizer / Bere Na Akwa Na
[B] Ewu Nu Be Akwa / Osima Owuari / Major Boro's Sound / Ayando / Dom Utilien Enkang / Mbanga
-- Ofon M. Samson reports that the correct spelling of the track listing "Dom Utilien Enkang" should be "Domo Utuene Ikang" ("Turn on the Light" in Efik)

While the label gives AGB 003 as the reference number, the sleeve indicates AGL 60. The track listings on the sleeve are also different. They are as follows: [A] Unwu Zuru Uwa / Abari Te / Baby Play Wayo / Gbate Fa Te / Bere Na Akwa Na [B] Ewu Ne Be Akwa / Osima Owuari / Major Boro's Sound / Ayando / Mingrofu. The label listing is the correct one. There may have actually been two separate releases. However, this LP was re-issued as a casstte, whose title is 'Victories', but not 'Victories Vol. 2'. Any information concerning this is much appreciated.

1981
Cardinal Rex Lawson & his Majors Band of Nigeria
Greatest Hits (LP; Polydor [Lagos] POLP 061)
[A] Oko / Serra Nene / Ene Bate / So Ala Te Mem / Love Mu Adure / Mekine Wa Bo Te
[B] Jolly Papa / Tamuno Bo Ibro Ma / Oweibo Nua / Ibi Na Bo / Fi Gboru Ene / Ibari Ikoru Wa

1990s
Cardinal Rex Lawson & his Mayors Band of Nigeria
Rex Lawson's Greatest Hits (CD; Flame Tree [London] FLTRCD 531)(CD; Premier Music [Lagos] PMCD 016 [2001, as "The Legend: Greatest Hits"])
Jolly Papa / Anate / Bere Bote / Akaso Inyingi / Aye Muba Udeaja / So Ala Te Mem / Abari Biya / Tamuno Bo Ibro Ma / Sawale / Sera Nene / Ene Bate / Love Me Adure / Meking Wa Bo Te / Uwei Bo Nua / Figboru Ene / Ibari Ko Ruwa / Ibi Na Bo / Osuala Oru Enene
-- The tracks on this CD were also issued as a two-volume Rex Lawson's Greatest Hits by Mossiac Music of New York City in the 1990s. Information on this release would be appreciated.

Late 1990s?
Cardinal Rex Lawson & his Majors Band of Nigeria
Rex Lawson Uncensored Vol. 3 - Hail Biafra (CD; Mossiac Music [New York City] MMCD 1036)
Onwu Zuru Uwa / Abari Te / Baby Play Wayo / Gbate Fa Te / Bere Na Akwa Na / Ewu Ne Be Akwa / Tamuno / Major Boro / Ayando / Mingrofu / (Hail Biafra) Odumegwu Ojukwu
-- Re-release of Rex Lawson's Victories Vol. 2 (AGL 60 track listing), with the omission of "Osima Owuari" and the addition of "Hail Biafra."

2002?
Various Artists
High Life Kings Vol. 1 (CD; Premier Music [Lagos] KMCD 01)
Osoni Owendu (Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe) / Onye Uri Ubata (Mike Ejeagha) / Igede (Celestine Ukwu) / Usondu (Celestine Ukwu) / Bere Bote (Rex Lawson) / Omo Pupa (Dr. Victor Olaiya) / Joromi (Sir Victor Uwaifo) / Kwue Nkenyi (Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe) / Anate (Rex Lawson) / Okwudili (Paulson Kalu) / Ugwu Onyirika Watu (Paulson Kalu) / Sanmari Adugbo (Wuru Fadaka)

2002?
Various Artists
High Life Kings Vol. 2 (CD; Premier Music [Lagos] KMCD 02)
Makojo (Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe) / Esonta (Chief Inyang Henshaw) / Ebonjo Eedidem Iban (Chief Inyang Henshaw) / Pariboto Riboto (Dr. Victor Olaiya) / Jolaosho (St. Augustine & The Rovers Dance Band) / Ogirri (St. Augustine & The Rovers Dance Band) / Atabala Woman ( Professional Seagulls Dance Band) / Afro Baby ( Professional Seagulls Dance Band) / Akuete (Victor Uwaifo) / Joromi (Sir Victor Uwaifo) / Okina (Akaba Man) / Abari Biya (Rex Lawson) / Ikpechakwa A-Akem Kpee (Gentle Man Ejeagha) / Yoba Chukwu (Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe) / Osuala Oru Enene (Cardinal Rex Lawson) / Guitar Boy (Sir Victor Uwaifo)
--Track titles and artists are listed here as they are on these two CD's, although in some cases they are misspelled.

2003?
Various Artists
The Kings of Highlife (CD; Wrasse Records [UK] WRASS 097)
Guitar Boy (Sir Victor Uwaifo) / Makojo (Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe) / Joromi (Sir Victor Uwaifo) / Omo Pupa (Dr. Victor Olaiya) / Osondi Owendi (Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe) / Anate (Sir Rex Jim Lawson) / Okwudili (Paulson Kalu) / Sanmari Adugbo (Wura Fadaka) / Esonta (Chief Inyang Henshaw) / Ikpechakwa A-Akem Kpee (Gentle Man Ejeagha) / Igede (Celestine Ukwu) / Bere Bote (Sir Rex Jim Lawson) / Usondu (Celestine Ukwu) / So Fun Mi (Dr. Victor Olaiya)
-- An abbreviated version of the 2-volume Premier Records set High Life Kings (above).

2004?
Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson
The Classics Vol. 1 (CD; Premier Music [Lagos] KMCD 010)
Ese Ayang / Akwa Abasi / Nume Inye / Peri Special Mbanga / Atiyemia / Adigboloja / Susana Pango / So Bo Ibibi / NaIbari Ikoruwa / Oko / Amanyanabo Ama Okite / Major Boro

2004?
Cardinal Rex Jim Lawson
The Classics Vol. 2 (CD; Premier Music [Lagos] KMCD 009)
Pay Me My Money / So Bra Sua Ipri / Serah Nene / Anah I Don Tire / Kusung Kusung / Oru Ene Ne Nyanam / Ufin Ekyomerisi / Yellow Sisi / Abasi Ye Enye / Nkpake Da OwoTom Kirisite / Wasenigbo

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