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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 1:22 am
by Kirin
It was a buzz to actually hear the man himself. Most of the online descriptions I've read describe him as if he's a kind of one-man Nigerian Renaissance (to the point where it becomes farcical -- nigeria-arts.net even praises him for writing manuscripts that haven't been published).

Uwaifo interview, African crate diggers, Cameroon music news

PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:25 pm
by tiscert
Dear Charlie,
Thanks for the Victor Uwaifo interview. Nice stuff. I first heard Uwaifo’s music in the mid-sixties in Cameroon - about 40 years ago! And he’s still going strong.

Yes, The Seekers (and Cliff Richard) were very big in ‘anglophone’ Africa in the early sixties, but it’s highly improbable that people from francophone African countries (e.g. Dr. Nico in the Congo) would have known anything about him – or British pop music – for that matter. On the other hand the Congo (Kinshasa) is a big country and borders with Uganda and Tanzania (where British pop music was popular). Also, Congolese bands regularly toured in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania – so it’s possible that some guitarist picked up the Cliff Richard bug from one of those ex colonies. Cameroon (where I was born and grew up) was one exception because of its dual French/British influence.

A small comment on the latest African crate-digging craze: It’s a funny world when musicians who are alive and kicking get presented as relics from some long distant past. I’ve lived in Europe for about 30 years and worked with African/Caribbean/South American music in clubs and on the radio. I always had a regular supply of Uwaifo’s music – and all that’s being dug out today (and probably tomorrow) for new compilations of African rarities. I just had to give the equivalent of about £10 to any Nigerian going home for holidays – and they always brought back stacks of vinyl or cassettes. Same thing for Ghanian, Kenyan, Congolese, South African, Brazilian, and Colombian music etc. I still do that today. Try it and you won’t have to wait for future compilations by crate diggers.

I’ll end up with some music news from Cameroon: I was there this summer and there’s a thriving scene there. It’s a shame nobody in Europe will ever get to hear that music probably because it’s not deemed sufficiently ‘exotic’ or ‘ethnic’ (whatever that may mean). The main musical headline this summer was the arrest of one of its most popular musicians, Lapiro de Mbanga:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7497482.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7131637.stm

Earlier this year, the talk of town was the hit single from superstar Petit Pays’s latest album ‘Frotambo’. The single is titled …‘Les pédés’ – a gay anthem! Check it out here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD_jFWywK-w

Music-wise it’s not like the stuff he did in the 90s which made him a continental don but it is a bold move in a country where the gutter press has done its best to create anti-gay hysteria (in vain).

I’ll sign off for today.

More to come.

Cheers

P.S. In Cameroon a bootleg cd costs about 500 francs CFA and a regular one about 2,500 francs CFA (£3). So if you catch anybody going down there, just give him your weekend beer money…you won’t regret it.

Re: Uwaifo interview, African crate diggers, Cameroon music

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:48 am
by Charlie
tiscert wrote: I’ll end up with some music news from Cameroon: I was there this summer and there’s a thriving scene there. It’s a shame nobody in Europe will ever get to hear that music probably because it’s not deemed sufficiently ‘exotic’ or ‘ethnic’ (whatever that may mean).

Thanks so much for this brilliant post, Tiscert.

I don't think there's a consistent or coherent policy of keeping any particular kind of music at bay, just a matter of accessibility.

It's true we've been a bit lazy in not tracking down the CDs for sale on Victor's own website, for instance, but it's also true that over the years, several people have come back from various African countries with their latest finds.

Back in 1984, when she was a guest on my Capital Radio show Lucy Duran played a track from a Baaba Maal cassette which was heard by Ian Anderson, who tracked down the owner and released the album as a CD in the UK.

As a guest on World on 3 on Radio 3 last Monday, Ben Mandelson played a CD he had bought unheard on a recent South African trip, which he lent me so I can include it in a future World Service show as well. The other day Ben lent me a second CD bought on the same trip, which I will also fit in.

I look forward to following up those weblinks.

Again, thanks so much and we look forward to future posts from you.

Re: Uwaifo interview, African crate diggers, Cameroon music

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:52 am
by Ian A.
Charlie wrote:Back in 1984, when she was a guest on my Capital Radio show Lucy Duran played a track from a Baaba Maal cassette which was heard by Ian Anderson, who tracked down the owner and released the album as a CD in the UK.

Not quite the story, but essentially true. Lucy had already given me a copy of the original Djam Leelii cassette and I had it in a bedside radio cassette player that I used as an alarm clock to wake me up every morning - it totally entranced me. It was only about a year later that the light bulb switched on that as I had a small record label I could possibly put it out. The process of doing that is a longer and much more complicated story (the album that eventually came out internationally was a compilation of tracks I remixed from the original Djam Leelii K7 made up with the best of another album recorded around the same time, since only the unmixed multi-track tapes of DL could be found, and not of all the songs).

One thing I know to be true, looking at the racks of lo-fi, often locally pirated K7s that I used to bring back by the dozens from West Africa in the mid 80s, is that we've hardly made a tiny scratch on the surface of the amazing music being released on K7 in Guinea, Senegal and Mali at that time. But do the master tapes still exist after several decades of deterioration in the local climate, or re-use because of tape poverty? One of the good things that can be said for places in Africa that had a reasonably thriving vinyl market is that playable examples do seem to survive for current enthusiasts to remaster from. I have a feeling that the K7 era between vinyl and CDs may end up being a lost period of history in some regions (Madagascar, for example).

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:19 pm
by tiscert
Thanks Charlie for the reply...and for that live session by the 'unnamed trio. Thanks and praises to the great Ben Mandelson...what a musician!...from Mustaphas through Billy Bragg to Shiyani Ngcobo. Ciao

Re: Uwaifo interview, African crate diggers, Cameroon music

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:23 am
by Charlie
Ian A. wrote:One thing I know to be true, looking at the racks of lo-fi, often locally pirated K7s that I used to bring back by the dozens from West Africa in the mid 80s, is that we've hardly made a tiny scratch on the surface of the amazing music being released on K7 in Guinea, Senegal and Mali at that time.

I never asked myself before, why are cassettes called K7 in West Africa? But now I've realised, using the French pronunciation of 'k' as 'ka' we get 'ka-sept', sounding like 'cassette'.. Reminds of the time I had Seasick Steve on the World Service and most of the enquiries were about the artist C-16 or C-60.

Re: Uwaifo interview, African crate diggers, Cameroon music

PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:53 pm
by Charlie
tiscert wrote:Dear Charlie,
Thanks for the Victor Uwaifo interview. Nice stuff. I first heard Uwaifo’s music in the mid-sixties in Cameroon - about 40 years ago! And he’s still going strong.

email from Andy Pollard:

You may want to pass on the info to Forumisters that PLAY.COM have the Sir Victor Uwaifo CD in their sale at a remarkable £2.99 at the moment.
A bargain! I enjoyed your World Service programme about him a few weeks ago.

Regards

Andy P

Re: Uwaifo interview, African crate diggers, Cameroon music

PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:42 pm
by Chris P
Charlie wrote:email from Andy Pollard:
You may want to pass on the info to Forumisters that PLAY.COM have the Sir Victor Uwaifo CD in their sale at a remarkable £2.99 at the moment.


Zoomed over there but it's £ 10 plus. Am I missing something or is the deal history ?

Re: Uwaifo interview, African crate diggers, Cameroon music

PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:34 pm
by AndyP
Chris Potts wrote:
Am I missing something or is the deal history ?


Sorry, I obviously wasn't quick enough, looks like they've pulled the deal on this one. The following may be of interest:

Mariza - Concerto Em Lisboa £3.99
Souad Massi - Acoustic;Best of £2.99
Orquestra Imperial - Carnaval So Ano Que Vem £2.99

PS Thanks to CG for giving me the impetus to actually register and post, having been a casual visitor to SOTW for a few years!

PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:08 am
by Chris P
welcome Andy. Which bit of the Midlands are you ? Any news on WM Cd bargains always welcome.

PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 9:49 am
by AndyP
West Midlands, an area sadly lacking in attraction for most touring musicians of any note (pun intended). Warwick Arts Centre and Brum Town Hall feature some good stuff, then there is the Glee Club for a variety of acts.

Oh, and NEC & NIA if you're a fan of boy bands and anything with mass appeal! (not that there's anything wrong with that, to use a Seinfeld catchphrase).