Saturday, July 12, 2008
Bring me an axe
Charlie Gillett recently pointed out how difficult it would have been back in the seventies to get your hands on this music or even hear it. So hats off to musical archaeologist Miles Cleret for his ongoing excavation of Nigerian popular music.
In this episode we get an album dedicated to Sir Victor Uwaifo and some very chilled guitar-based hybrid highlife grooves. Uchenna from combandrazor takes up the story: In addition to being one of the flashiest and hardest working Nigerian musicians of the highlife era, Sir Victor Uwaifo was almost certainly the most ingenious. Never content to follow the boilerplate of the highlife mainstream or to slavishly ape imported trends, Uwaifo built his reputation on ostentatious showmanship and the judicious mining of the legends and songs of his native Edo culture, which he repackaged as newfangled pop: modern music of African folklore. You can read more about SIr Victor by following this link.
Now just for a moment compare the graphic styles of an original Nigerian release (at top) with that of the new Soundway release (below). Like the design studio Intro's re-contextualisation of roots reggae label Blood and Fire (sample above) here we have Tim from nth creative running his spell over the packaging. The omnipresent danger here is of approximating an imagined authenticity that can suggest an assumed naivete. Such graphic styles (e.g. Ben Bailey on the latest Pressure Sounds release) can be condescending. But hey Sir Victor was repacking himself and presenting an assumed modernity in the midst of the surge of the new found wealth running through Nigeria at the time.
And here's the spin: "Soundway Records presents ‘Victor Uwaifo: Guitar-Boy Superstar 1970-76’, an in-depth look at the music of a Nigerian legend. Victor Uwaifo combined the rhythms and traditions of the historic culture of the Empire of Benin with the sounds of Highlife, Soul and Reggae to produce his own unique and culturally vital musical hybrid. Packed with rare tracks, vintage cover art and informative interviews and commentary, this CD restores him to his rightful place alongside the other giants of African music."
And lucky readers here is a sample of my favourite track Ekassa 28
at 10:03 AM