||Odion Livingstone present another essential reissue of a rare gem from the Nigerian archives, Grotto’s lost Afrorock classic from 1977, ‘At Last’.
Formed at “Greg’s” (St Gregory’s college in Ikoyi, Lagos), Grotto came up at the same time as several other in?uential student bands based there, including Ofege. “As Grotto, we played a rock/funk fusion. We were probably aged 15, 16 or thereabouts
and we were heavily into music, we listened to Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana and lots of rock bands,” explains lead guitarist Soga Benson.
Their debut album is a heavyweight trip, drifting from psychedelic workouts to crunching breaks and funkier directions. “Odion Iruoje was the A&R manager at EMI at the time and he auditioned us, liked the material and signed us. He also produced our recordings,” continues Benson. “Most of us were boarders and the school encouraged music and had instruments so we had time to jam and really gel together. The group still continued after we left Gregs. We had to juggle A-Levels with gigs and we used
to skip school whenever we had a show, rehearsal or a recording date.”
While many Nigerian student bands were studio-based projects, Grotto was an active live unit during the ‘70s. “We played at The Shrine with Fela, with Tee Mac at Batakoto, with Sonny Okosun at Kakadu, Segun Bucknor at Granada Hotel.”
This frst international reissue of Grotto’s debut album comes with a full interview with Soga Benson and producer Odion Iruoje + a selection of rare and previously unseen photos of the band. The album is fully remastered by The Carvery.