Sep 16, 2011
Peter King - African Dialects
Peter King of Nigeria is perhaps better known in Europe and America than at home. this is because his "Miliki Sound" has sold very well out there, "Omolewa" is still blowing their minds like nobody's business, and they agree that the essential Peter King is "A Soulful Peter King" Needless to say that they also realise that Peter's "Moods" are many and varied.
A Lot has been said and written about the musical career and life of Peter King, but suffice it to say that outside of the great Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Peter is the only true and formidable multi-instumentalist on the scene today, very proficient in the technical execution of all the instruments in the reed family. A devoted jazz musician, Peter's tonal conception is in the Rollins-Ammons-Coltrane tradition.
When he plays a ballad, it is a religious execution as he observes all the sequence, improvising in a thematic style. On a typical Up-tempo, he does not justmake it funky, he wails as he makes the changes. What's more, he's monstrous, fierce and forceful.
Most musicians are now in the habit of mounting two tunes on an album - one groove on one whole side and another on the other side. Peter King believes in providing his fans with their money's worth. This is exactly what he has done here in "African Dialects" an album in which he has packaged for you a variety of sounds from various music categories including the soul rock and afro-rock feelings of African Dialect, Joy, Sunshine Lady and Jungle Boy; the unusual personal reggae treatment of Happy Song and Carribean Air: the highly inspiring highlife style of Adura; Sweet Soulful Congo with its gentle touch of Latin, not forgetting Gentleman Joe, a calypso professionally rendered in an nusual tempo.
With African Dialects, Peter King stepped into the scene
Spilling over to the 80s, the 70s was a big boom for the Nigerian music industry, especially in terms of new trends and dimensions.
And, although Nigeria’s Peter King who now owns a music school did not benefit in commercial terms from the sales of his records, some prevailing circumstances helped to prepare him for the challenges that lay ahead, inspiring him and giving him hope and the sense of belonging. The man through whom these favourable circumstances came forth; and to whom Peter King should forever be grateful as the architect of his fortune, is the late Sanu Olu. He made it possible through the release of African Dialects.
A classical case of being at the right place at the right time, it can safely be said that the late Sam Olu is the reason why Peter King is in the country today, sitting pretty as a music teacher.
But for Sam Olu’s intervention, Peter King, who had been coming home from his base in London and going back because he could not easily fit into the scene, should probably have been in Britain, still struggling with highlife fusion and the instrumentalisation of popular songs.
When he arrive at the country in 1979 to try and see if he could find his feet on a scene that was saturated with all kinds of fusions – Afro rock, Afro beat, Afro funk and Afro highlife, he was lucky to meet the late Alhaji Sam Olu who was angry with Decca West Africa at the time for a breach of contract. He had just set up a parallel recording establishment with a studio in Ijebu Ode, his hometown and an office in Lagos where he recruited musicians for his newly established recording stable, Shanu Olu Records.
His grouse with the then multi-national Decca West Africa was that without due regard for the initial agreement which made him the sole distributor of their records in Nigeria, the company suddenly reneged and brought in other distributors to share in the market. Determined to bring down the company to its knees, he attracted some of their major stars with better contracts deals. He enlisted Orlando Owoh, Maliki showman, Prince Adekunle, SJOB Movement Waziri Oshioma and a few others whom he snatched from Decca on his stable.
Eddy Grant had come from London and approached him for the contractual release in 1978 of Wipe Mon fe o, an LP that turned out to be astonishingly successful in Nigeria because it had a Nigerian song in it that was not only romantic but also generated an exciting, commercial rhythmic concept. Sam Olu did not have a knowledgeable and professional Artiste and Repertoire manager in his employment to discern for him what sounds were appealing or commercial. He rejected Eddy Grant’s album, which eventually became a big hit for EMI. Sam Olu regretted it afterwards.
Incidentally, it was about this same time – immediately after this incident that Peter King also came from London with African Dialects not wanting to take chances, not ready to repeat the same mistake, he jumped at it, hoping it would be a huge success, but it was not.
Quite a mixed bag, it contained songs of highlife calypso, rock, reggae and what have you. Unfortunately, it did not at all compare with Eddy Grant’s mono-cultural sound of wild reggae and ska which immediately appealed to everybody. But African Dialects parades some really good music.
Sanu Olu did not stop there. He helped P.K to clear his instruments from the airport and into the bargain, signed him on and gave him a Volkswagen Bus for carrying his instruments on engagements. These incentives lifted PK’s spirit and compelled him to stay. As for African Dialects, the album did not enjoy commercial success. Sanu Olu’s hopes were dashed.
However, I came into the picture to write the liner notes in 1979 saying:
• Peter King of Nigeria is perhaps better known in Europe and America than at home here in Nigeria. This is because his “Miliki Sound” has sold very well out there; Omolewa is still blowing their minds like nobody’s business, and they agree that the essential Peter King is A Soulful Peter King. Needless to say that they also realise that Peter’s Moods are many and varied.
A lot has been said about the musical career of Peter King, but suffice it to say that outside of the late great Rah saan Roland Kirk, Peter King is the only true formidable multi-instrumentalist on the scene today – very proficient in the technical execution of all the instruments in the need family. A devoted jazz musician Peter’s tonal conception is in the Rollins-Ammos-Coltrane tenor tradition.
When he plays a ballad, it is a religious execution as he observes all the Sequence, improvising in a thematic style. On a typical up-tempo, he does not just make it funky, he wails as he makes the changes. What’s more, he is monstrous, fierce and forceful.
Most musicians are now in the habit of mounting two tunes on an album – one groove on one whole side and another on the other side. Peter King believes in providing his fans with their money’s worth. And this is exactly what he has done here in African Dialects, an album in which he has packaged for you a variety of sounds from various music categories including the soul rock and Afro feeling of African Dialects itself, Joy, Sunshine Lady, and Jungle Boy, the unusual and personal reggae treatment of Happy Song and Caribbean art, the highly inspiring highlife style of Adura, Sweet, Soulful Congo with its gentle touch of Latin, not forgetting Gentleman Joe, a calypso professionally rendered in an unusual tempo.
At the time African Dialects was released, Peter King and such albums as Miliki sound, Omolewa, Moods and Soulful Peter King which was perhaps the most commercially successful in the market.
Sanu Olu Records which released African Dialects, had its head office at 100 Olateju Street Challenge, Mushin, Lagos. And to underscore the inestimable value he placed on this recording, he created a new label with it, called “Grandstar” – which African Dialects as number one – GSN 1001.
Like Haruna Ishola, Sanu Olu was one of the most adventurous and visionary indigenous label owners in Nigeria, but he died before his efforts bore fruit.
01. African Dialects
02. Happy Song
04. Caribean Air
05. Sunshine Lady
07. Golden Jungle Boy
08. Sweet Soulful Congo
09. Gentleman Joe
Labels: Peter King