Victor Sila doesn’t wear an I Hart Fela Kuti t-shirt but he doesn’t need to. He’s made an album that says it for him. He gets the message across in his saxophone jags, in his lightly Kutified groove, and in the huffing shouts of, “Ah ha!” and “Ay ya!” that seem designed to kick your heartrate along. In the title song he even imitates Kuti’s Nigerian-Creole English. He’s not courting Kutiesque controversy though. He wants everyone to be friends and dance, dance, dance. Dance to soukous, dance to funk, dance to reggae, dance to “Dancing Shoes”, a song that he made for the Americans who were struck by Hurricane Katrina. “Dancing Shoes” advises traumatised people to forget their troubles and “put on your dancing shoes”, which sounds facile under the circumstances but Sila delivers this advice with such evident joy that after a while you want to think that he’s absolutely right, and that the troubles of the planet really can be averted if we all ask ourselves “why, oh-h why?” and decide to “be the change you want to see in the world”. He makes it sound so good and right and healthy. Funkiest Man In Africa is so glad to be alive, someone should start a cult around it.
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// Notes from the Road
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