Knitting Factory (label)
15 December 2017 (released)
09 December 2017
There really never has been a music composer/performer/maestro quite like Fela Kuti. He invented Afrobeat, developed Afro-jazz and led musical movements both in Africa (Nigeria & Ghana) and Europe. His untimely death left a massive hole in the musical sphere of so many lives.
A massively charismatic man he has been described as “superstar, singer, musician, Pan-Africanist, polygamist, mystic, legend." But to the political leaders of Nigeria he was a massive thorn in their side.
When he was jailed in 1984 no less than Amnesty International stood up for him as a ‘prisoner of concience’.
His whole canon has been collected over the last few years and most of is being re-issued in remastered and best quality vinyl, including this 7 album set comprising of ‘Army Arrangement’, ‘Coffin For Head Of State’, ‘J.J.D’, ‘No Agreement’, ‘Underground System’, ‘V.I.P’ & ‘Yellow Fever’ covering the period 1976 to 1992.
Curator of the release is Eryka Badu and I have to say that the quality of the remastering and the extra depth and scale it has given the music is nothing short of magnificent.
Musically, this all revolves around the playing of Africa’s finest musicians and the strong but gentle instruction of the man himself. You can clearly hear changes in his political and sociological stance but the music develops alongside these changes. The chance to have what is, effectively, a single document recording this crucial period in his life and evolution is one that needs to be grabbed with both hands.
As I progressed through the albums I found myself completely lost in the complex and repetive rhythmic signatures but also captured by his passion and the sheer musicality of it all.
To borrow a quote from Ms Badu “With Fela it seems to have spilled right out of him, We instantly get the feeling we are connected to those tones and vibrations.” And she is right. This is music that is so natural and so close to the organic that he presents you with a place and it just naturally fits.
To steal another quote “Fela is a fucking genius. Please listen to these tracks, preferably with a nice blunt … with a nice slow burn”. The music will do all the work, you just need to be receptive to it.