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KNITTING FACTORY

"Army Arrangement" comes from 1985 and is co-produced by Bill Laswell (Material) with the likes of Bernie Worrell (P-Funk) and Sly Dunbar guesting, giving the tracks an extra electronic edge. The LP is a critique of Nigeria's attempt at democracy. Mired as the army-led government was in political corruption, it came as no surprise that this LP cemented Fela's reputation as an anti-government subversive and continued the spiral of arrests, beatings and imprisonments that marred his life.

FORMAT INFORMATION

LP includes MP3 Download Code.

The collection of songs on ‘Afrodisiac’ were songs Fela and the Nigeria 70 (Later Africa 70) re-recorded at Abbey Road in London in 1971. Originally recorded and released in Nigeria on 45rpm, they were Fela’s first successive hits in the Nigerian music charts. The best known song on 1973’s ‘Afrodisiac’ is ‘Jeun Ko Ku’, a satire about gluttony and Fela’s first major hit in West Africa. In Broken English the title means ‘chop and quench’, which, in turn, means ‘eat and die’ in Standard English.

The title track, ‘Gentleman’, has often been hailed as Fela’s masterpiece. The politically scathing song opposes Westernization and those who imitate Western ways. Fela had many Ghanaian friends (and Ghanaian wives and Ghanaian girlfriends) and ‘Fefe Naa Efe’ is sung as a tribute to Ghana. ‘Igbe’ again shows Fela breaking cultural taboos by singing literally and figuratively about ‘sh*t’. He sings the word in a several Nigerian languages so there is no misunderstanding. 

Fela Kuti

Shakara

    ‘Shakara’ is a two-track release of 13-minute songs that showcase Fela’s satirical side. ‘Lady’, perhaps one of Fela’s most popular tracks, criticizes Westernized African women who he felt had been corrupted by their embrace of the new feminist movement of the time. ‘Shakara’ is a mainly instrumental track with a brief lyric sung in Yoruba, warning against boasters and braggarts. Uptempo, with a suitably turbulent horn arrangement, it includes strong solos from Fela on keyboards and the fearsome Igo Chico on tenor saxophone.


    ‘Upside Down’ and ‘Zombie’, both released in 1976, were made at the midpoint of an extraordinary three-year purple period during which Fela recorded 24 albums of new material. ‘Upside Down’ was written by Fela to portray a worldly travelled African who searches the dictionary and finds the definition of upside down - a perfect description of the African situation. ‘Upside Down’ is unusual in that it includes a second lead vocalist, Fela’s American friend Sandra Izsadore. Izsadore was a black rights activist and introduced him to the writings of revolutionary thinkers such as Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, Huey Newton and more who inspired Fela’s philosophy of Blackism.


    Fela Kuti lives on. Since his death in 1997, the Nigerian icon and Afrobeat originator has been transformed from musician’s musician with a cult-like following to a worldwide musical icon. Now Red Hot, the AIDS awareness organisation, has partnered with Knitting Factory Records to release a colourful collection of Fela Kuti compositions performed by cross-genre collaborators representing rock, hip hop, Americana, and classical.

    The release includes classic Fela anthems like ‘Lady’, recorded by tUnE-yArDs, ?uestlove (The Roots), Angelique Kidjo and Akua Naru, ‘Zombie’ recorded by Spoek Mathambo, Cerebral Cortex and Frown, and ‘Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am’ recorded by My Morning Jacket, Merrill Garbus (from tUnE-yArDs), and Brittany Howard (from Alabama Shakes) and ‘Sorrow, Tears & Blood’ reworked by the Kronos Quartet along with TV On The Radio’s Kyp Malone and Tunde Adembimpe.

    Fela Kuti

    Coffin For The Head Of State / Unknown Soldier

      These masterpieces were pivotal accomplishments for Kuti, as they solidified his rise from mere social commentator to fiercely determined cultural leader. Recorded after the brutal raid of his Kalaluta compound and the consequent death of his mother, they comprise two of the most personal statements Kuti ever made. "Coffin for Head of State" denounces the corrosive effect of Christian and Muslim influence on African life and takes to task the leaders that perpetuate the "Bad bad bad things/Through Jesus Christ our Lord." It takes its name from a protest in which Kuti and a group of supporters laid a coffin on the steps of Christian leader Olusegun Obasanjo's Dodan Barracks, the headquarters of the military government. An epic 31-minute tribute to his fallen mother, "Unknown Soldier" is one of the most ambitious recordings of Kuti's career which describes in frightening detail the events that transpired on the eve of the Kalakuta raid, including the rape of several women, beatings, mutilation, and the throwing of his mother ("the Mother of Nigeria") out of a window. The official police report after the raid blamed the attack on "unknown soldiers," and in response to this fantastic cover-up, Kuti gives a tortured, powerful performance of some of his most vivid and incendiary music

      Fela Kuti

      Roforofo Fight / The Fela Singles

      This is essentially a CD reissue of Fela Kuti's 1972 album "Roforofo Fight", with the addition of two previously unreleased tracks from the same era. It's true that Kuti's early-70s records tend to blur together with their similar groupings of four lengthy Afro-funk jazz cuts. Each of the four songs on "Roforofo Fight" clocks in at 12 to 17 minutes, and there's a slight slide toward more 70s-sounding rhythms in the happy-feet beats of the title track, and the varied, yet rock-solid drums in "Go Slow". There's just a hint of reggae in "Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am", in the pace, vocal delivery, ethereal keyboards, and lilting yet dramatic minor melodic lines. The James Brown influence is strongly heard in the lean, nervous guitar strums of "Question Jam Answer". The two bonus tracks - "Shenshema" (from 1972) and "Ariya" (from 1973) - comprised the segment of the CD titled "The Fela Singles" a curious phrase given that they were previously unreleased. "Shenshema" is a nine-minute cut that is heavy on go-go-like percussion and cool, responsive chants from the band. The 10-minute "Ariya" is a real discovery, its urgent spy theme-like melody and Kuti's haunting, driven vocals making it a highlight even relative to the generally high quality of his recordings during this period.


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Ltd CD Info: CD is presented in a deluxe digipack, with booklet including Fela’s biography and track-by-track commentary from Afro-beat historian Chris May.


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