"...an opinion worth disagreeing with." Now there's a back-handed complement if ever there was one Jonathan!
I think you are way too negative with your final verdict on our discussion As regards Fela - I'm sure, if you look at the wider picture, we agree more than we disagree. I wouldn't be discussing the man and his music in the first place if I didn't find him fascinating and his music innovative and immeasurably influential. I'm simply very wary of putting people on pedestals - history backs me up on this one, I'm sure you'll agree.
You're correct that I'm general not very fond of pedestals and those who perch upon them â€” and I agree that we should be wary about placing people upon them.
My "final verdict on our discussion" was more based on the meta-level of the discussion. Over the past few years, I have become convinced that the illusory and subjective nature of reality is so great that when someone, say the woman you referred to at the Barbican, holds a view that is so remote, even alien, from mine that I am utterly unqualified to pass judgement upon it. I have to take the whole array of circumstances into some other place where it can be and I can be and judgement is suspended. Not always easy â€” but since my own reality is pretty damn weird for many people to comprehend I feel it's only fair to extend the courtesy. You appear more attached to your own and "western" consensual reality. Fela's reality was obviously very different from mine, and given what he achieved, I cut him some slack for attitudes and actions that I wouldn't approve of in everyday life and that I certainly try not to practice myself. Similiar situation with Bob Marley. It's not a perfect world. Sorry to be so obvious.
OK, let's clear this up once and for all Jonathan. I hope Charlie won't object if I answer these comments even though they are far removed from the topics generally covered on his website, at least they are not mere bickering and exchanges of pithy comments.
I realised when rereading my original posting that I should have used the word 'bored' rather than 'uncomfortable'. I was only uncomfortable in the sense that I was bored.
The woman's experience itself was not the problem, I sincerely hope that it was something more than subjective delusion - it may well have been, and I sincerely hope it was! But the preamble and post-amble to it took away most of its potency as either trivial or meaningful entertainment - and after all, this was meant to be an afternoon of entertainment. And I hasten to add, I was not the only person getting restless. I couple of Fela's fellow Nigerians were heckling with shouts of "Let's have some more music!"
I absolutely share your view of open-mindedness to all metaphysical conjecture. For someone who claims to be so open-minded, you seem very quick to brand me with a western perspective even though I have already tried to correct this impression by eluded to a wider perspective on all things metaphysical in my last posting on this subject.
I do however confess to having a problem with 'belief' as I think it has coursed more harm than good in this world. If you want the figures then go and check out any general history book or open a newspaper.
Instead I am a firm entertainer of the possibility of a knowing but unknowable greater intelligence and I find enough spiritual sustenance from this intellectual, and yet paradoxically, emotional position.
Entertaining of the possibility is never confrontational. If we all refraining from insisting on specifics regarding the metaphysical nature of things, we would have no need to get hot under the collar when someone challenges those specifics. And before your fingers start itching to respond to that last sentence Jonathan - it was not personal. It was a genuine generalisation.
So entertain the possibility my friend, and the possibility will entertain you!
I hope that's cleared that up. Now who's bought a new album this week?
Oh. I wish I had a new album this week! But, I'm still working through my birthday binge of a few weeks ago â€” and am under personal promise and financial restriction not to indulge again until that lot is digested. For this forum, perhaps the most appropriate gift to myself of that splurge was the Afrobeat Sessions compilation, which violates the old Afrobeat purity standards but is full of pretty fine music. Perhaps not real new on the right-hand side of the Atlantic. Also picked up the Issa Bagayogo release, which is niiiice but I feel that he's coasting into AfroLoungeLand. Which is fair enough for a third release â€” but what's next? I preferred the Trio Mocoto release, Beleza! Beleza! Beleza!, which was also in my booty bag. Fascinating how people can keep making innovative and funky music far past the first bloom of youth and after a long layoff.
What is new this week that I've heard on the radio is an interesting version of "Ball Of Confusion" by the Neville Brothers on their new release stateside.
So back to the metaphysical. I'm not on my own computer so can't dredge up the notes I was making in response to your post for a word to word comparison â€” but I think I was getting around to saying something closer to what you are now saying. Your response may spare you all from my subjecting you to a long and involved explanation of why I consider the nature of reality to be subjective and illusory and its detailed relevance to artistic, cultural and political concerns in the world today â€” "Yeaahh! Howard!" goes the chorus. Anyway, my branding you "western" is simply shorthand based on your posts. As is becoming increasingly obvious, belief and spirituality are completely different from organized religion, which tends to be where such things become evil and obnoxious. Substantial differences in this landscape between the U. K. and the U. S. also according to my wife, who is writing a dissertation that wanders into this area.
One last thing. All this seems to me to be very entwined with the inner world of creativity and culture. Music is more than just business, entertainment and personal preference â€” and that's why it might belong somewhere in this forum even if not within the Introduction to Howard V. But that would be a long post â€” beyond even my patience tonight. So, good night. Have a good weekend. Be nonspecific â€” or otherwise.
Elsewhere in this forum I've said that I've been playing the latest Issa album to death and I know that one or two of you are fans of his, if not this album. Jonathan E thinks that Issa is becoming African middle-of-the-road, but is this bad if in doing so he encourages more people to explore the African music we all so obviously enjoy? Tassoumakan, apart from track one, is an album I can replay constantly whereas I had to be more selective with the previous two. But if you want something a little more cutting edge from Issa try the remixes of Touba and Koroto on iTunes. For some reason Tassoumaken is not available on iTunes but these remixes are; and I haven't been able to find the remixes on CD or vinyl for sale anywhere else.
Incidentally, on the few occasions I've DJ'd, Tounga is one of two numbers I've played that always guaranteed a queue of people asking for the name of the artist and the album.
Thanks Charlie - but that doesn't mean that I've in any way had my need sated to sing the praises of this CD which keeps drawing me back to it despite more recent purchases.
I think critics and listeners who are responding to 'Tassoumakan' with luddite mistrust, as if it's in some way a dilution of African music, are kind of missing it's point. It's like saying that the Rolling Stones are in some way a dilution of Vaughan Williams. Things have to move on. Although there have been many cack-handed, unlistenable attempts to contemporise African music, Issa is one of the first, for my money, who has pulled it off. It's not even about just keeping up, he's ahead of the game, even in an international context. You could play a track such as 'Dya Bana' back to back with a state-of-the-beat R & B or Hip Hop track and it would hold it's own.
'Tassoumakan' is a sonic heavy-weight thanks to producer Yves Wernert's expert ear. The production/arrangements are immaculate, intelligent, and most importantly, funky. They are not merely cosmetic additions to the Ngoni/vocals core of most of the songs. This time the graft has taken, and song and production have become one. My only gripe would be that I could have done with a bit more grit thrown into the mix. When a distorted electric guitar does make a brief cameo appearance it still sounds rather more polite and ineffectual than it should.
And thanks Ian for the remixes tip. However I suspect, before even hearing these remixes, they are going to be just generic, heavy-handed devolutions, tailor made for the dance floor, rather the intelligent remodellings of the originals.
Though I hope to be pleasantly surprised, it's usually the same old story with remixes - up the faders on the drum track. Correction - up the faders on the bass drum and snare drum tracks, thus complying with the Ibiza Convention, the main mandate of which states:
"All remixed dance tracks should have all the original elements of the track, which made it popular in the first place - such as melody and vocal, subsumed by the thud-thwak, thud-thwak of the four-four beat, thus enabling the hard-of-dancing to be able to at least sway from side to side and thus avoid the risk of embarrassment on the dance floor."
The remixes will appeal to a different audience (and completists like me) and introduce a new audience to Issa. The exploration has to start somewhere and I'm sure that these will do it. I'm not sure I could play the album at my local club except perhaps at the end of the evening, but the remixes will go down well.
Howard, or anyone else out there, this is something to keep you busy, can you give examples of "intelligent remodellings of the originals."? Right now I'm drawing a blank; aren't remixes generally intended for a dance floor unless taken out of an archive after 20 or 30 years and remixed for today?