November 01, 2009

Evil genius

While going through some of the older posts a few days ago I was drawn to an article which was referred to in a comment on a post about Victor Olaiya. The article can be found here (but in case the linked page disappears I have saved the text here). It contains an interview with this highlife legend, who appears* to be (fingers crossed) alive and well.

I am not completely satisfied with his answer to the question how he got his nickname "The Evil Genius of Highlife". Olaiya: "They thought I moved highlife music out of the ordinary. Then, it was believed that my highlfe was a little bit out of this world, beyond explanation. This was why Alhaji Alade Odunewu of the Daily Times styled me the Evil Genius of Highlife."
This may explain the "genius", but not the "evil"...

Maybe the evilness was in his lyrics. Apparently some of his songs dealt with some unpleasant truths. In the interview he cites a song warning against marrying a police woman, which led to him being persecuted by the subjects of the song. I have no idea if other songs by Olaiya caused similar controversy.

An article by Richard Eghaghe from the Nigerian Daily Independent (quoted here) states that Victor Olaiya was the founder of the Cool Cats. This is contradicted by the sleeve notes of the EP I would like to share with you in this post. These name Carl 'Moody' Anifowose as the founder of this band, which Olaiya joined after leaving the Sammy Akpabot Sextet.
It's just a detail, but these details have a tendency to blossom into truths.....

About the music I can be short: it is superb.
The record quality is not so great though. And that's why I am adding a single from a later date, by Victor Olaiya and his All Stars.

As with the older Cool Cats record, the All Stars songs are deliciously laid-back, and very recognisably 'Olaiya'. I just love the instrumental bits in these songs, after 1'40 in "Lekeleke" and after 1'29 on "Aiye Soro". They are evidence of true genius, - evil or not...

Philips 420001 PE 'Afro Rhythm Parade vol.2' (ep)
Philips West African 303.016 PF (single)

* I have discovered nothing to indicate that he is not alive...

1 comment:

Pieter said...

Love this! I've been a fan since I got some Victor Olaiya & Cool Cats from Dr. Frank (@Afroburo). Thanks for sharing.