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KNITTING FACTORY

Fela Kuti

Afrodisiac - 50th Anniversary Edition

    Fela Kuti (1938-1997) was a Nigerian musician, producer, arranger, political radical, outlaw and the originator of Afrobeat. A titanic musical and sociopolitical voice, Fela’s legacy spans decades and genres, touching on jazz, pop, funk, hip-hop, rock and beyond.

    Afrodisiac is the fifth in the series of celebratory Fela 50th Anniversary reissues. Like its predecessors in the series, this double LP edition is on color vinyl; LP 1 is green marble and LP 2 is on red marble. The album will be wrapped in a gold foil OBI strip with a brief essay on the album and Fela's global impact on music. The songs on Afrodisiac were tracks that Fela and the Nigeria 70 (Later Africa 70) re-recorded at Abbey Road Studios in 1972 after they had become hits in Nigeria. The best known song on the album, 'Jeun Ko Ku’, is listed by its Pidgin title ‘Chop and Quench’ on this album. It’s a satire about gluttony and Fela's first major hit across West Africa. ‘Chop and Quench’ means ""eat and die"" in Standard English.

    Afrodisiac was first reissued on vinyl in 2014 as part of the Fela Box Set #3 curated by Brian Eno. Eno played Afrodisiac for David Byrne and it was a huge influence on Talking Heads when they recorded Remain In Light - there is a bonus track called ‘Fela's Riff’ that nods heavily to the influence of hearing Afrodisiac and Fela's music for the first time.

    TRACK LISTING

    SIDE A:
    1. Alu Jon Jonki Jon
    SIDE B:
    1. Chop And Quench
    SIDE C:
    1. Eko Ile
    SIDE D:
    1. Je'nwi Temi (Don't Gag Me)

    Fela Kuti

    Coffin For Head Of State

      The album is among Fela’s most courageous responses to the Nigerian army’s destruction of Kalakuta on 18 February 1977. During the attack, Fela’s mother, aged 78, a veteran of Nigeria’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule and an early campaigner for Nigerian women’s rights, was thrown out of an upstairs window, fracturing a leg. Fela believed that the assault led to his mother’s death 14 months later

      TRACK LISTING

      Coffin For Head Of State (Part 1)
      Coffin For Head Of State (Part 2)

      "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.

      TRACK LISTING

      Army Arrangement (Part 1)
      Army Arrangement (Part 2)

      Fela Kuti

      Johnny Just Drop (J.J.D.)

        Originally released in 1977, ‘Johnny Just Drop (J.J.D.)’ features Fela lampooning Nigeria’s ‘beentos’, people who had been to Europe or America to work or study and then returned (dropped) home with European social pretensions and an inferiority complex about African culture. The reissue features original album artwork designed by Lemi Ghariokwu, who created the cover art for around half of Fela’s albums.

        TRACK LISTING

        Johnny Just Drop (J.J.D.) (Part 1)
        Johnny Just Drop (J.J.D.) (Part 2)

        Fela Kuti

        No Agreement

          ‘No Agreement’ is sometimes overlooked among Fela’s 1977 releases, eclipsed by albums such as ‘Johnny Just Drop (J.J.D.)’ and ‘Sorrow Tears and Blood’, yet it is among his best albums of the period. It includes an outstanding Afrika 70 instrumental, ‘Dog Eat Dog’. The track includes a solo by the American trumpeter Lester Bowie of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, who was then staying with Fela in Lagos.

          TRACK LISTING

          No Agreement
          Dog Eat Dog (Instrumental)

          Fela Kuti

          Underground System

            By the time of these recordings Fela Kuti was HIV positive, drug addicted and had been brutalised by continual imprisonments and beatings at the hands of the Nigerian authorities. Over a fifteen year period he had sung about injustice, persecution, the downtrodden and the poor. He championed everyman's right to a decent life, decent education and freedom from intolerance. He had his all too obvious faults but his music remains a testimony to a performer justifiably known as the 'King of Afro-beat'. The last album of newly recorded material to be released during Fela’s lifetime, 1992’s ‘Underground System’ is an outstanding swansong. While Fela’s recorded output slowed up as the 1980s progressed - largely as a result of ongoing arrests, beatings and jailings - his final years of recording produced some of his strongest work, notably ‘Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense’ (1986), ‘Beasts Of No Nation’ (1989), ‘Overtake Don Overtake Overtake’ (1990) and ‘Underground System’.

            TRACK LISTING

            Underground System
            Pansa Pansa

            Fela Kuti

            V.I.P. (Vagabonds In Power)

              ‘V.I.P.’ (Vagabonds In Power) was recorded live at the Berlin Jazz Festival in Autumn 1978 and released the following year. It is a ferocious and lyrically exalted attack on the abuse of state power. The festival straddled the cusp of the break-up of Afrika 70 and the formation of Egypt 80 in Spring 1979 and ‘V.I.P.’ was the last album Fela made with the drummer Tony Allen, who had been with him since 1964 and acted as Afrika 70’s bandleader.

              TRACK LISTING

              V.I.P. (Part 1)
              V.I.P. (Part 2)

              Fela Kuti

              Yellow Fever

                ‘Yellow Fever’ was originally released in 1976, during Fela’s extraordinarily prolific 1975-77 purple period, when he released 24 albums in Nigeria alone. The title track is one of Fela’s defining masterpieces. Sung in Broken English, the language he adopted in order to make his words understood beyond Yoruba speakers, the lyrics rail against the fashion for skin-whitening creams.

                TRACK LISTING

                Yellow Fever
                Na Poi ‘75

                Fela Kuti And Roy Ayers

                Music Of Many Colours

                  THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2019 EXCLUSIVE AND WILL BE AVAILABLE INSTORE ON SATURDAY APRIL 13th ON A FIRST COME FIRST SERVED BASIS, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON. IF THERE ARE ANY REMAINING COPIES THEY WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT 12.01AM SATURDAY APRIL 20th.

                  Knitting Factory Records is proud to reissue Music of Many Colours on limited edition rainbow starburst vinyl, exclusive to Record Store Day. This is the first pressing of the album since the late 80’s. Music of Many Colours is a joint album between Roy Ayers and Fela Kuti, recorded after a three week tour of Nigeria’s major cities in 1979, during which Roy Ayers performed as the opening act for Fela’s band. The two artists decided to record the album as a round-up to the tour. Roy Ayers describes the experience saying, “I met Fela Kuti in Nigeria in 1979, and we fell into a great relationship, good personal and music vibes, and we recorded that album together. Fela also came to USA in the eighties and we performed at NYC's Madison Square Garden. Amazingly energetic, Fela Kuti had a very original concept that was called Afro Beat – a genre with a very unique identity and exceptional music. One of Fela Kuti's most impressive qualities was that he was undeniably a brilliant show man, as a musician and as a huge dancer as well. His African concept was truly original… The tour was about two black men together coming together, one from Africa and other from USA, a very exciting collaboration." Knitting Factory Records is proud to reissue Music of Many Colours on limited edition rainbow starburst vinyl, exclusive to Record Store Day. This is the first pressing of the album since the late 80’s. Music of Many Colours is a joint album between Roy Ayers and Fela Kuti, recorded after a three week tour of Nigeria’s major cities in 1979, during which Roy Ayers performed as the opening act for Fela’s band. The two artists decided to record the album as a round-up to the tour. Roy Ayers describes the experience saying, “I met Fela Kuti in Nigeria in 1979, and we fell into a great relationship, good personal and music vibes, and we recorded that album together. Fela also came to USA in the eighties and we performed at NYC's Madison Square Garden. Amazingly energetic, Fela Kuti had a very original concept that was called Afro Beat – a genre with a very unique identity and exceptional music. One of Fela Kuti's most impressive qualities was that he was undeniably a brilliant show man, as a musician and as a huge dancer as well. His African concept was truly original… The tour was about two black men together coming together, one from Africa and other from USA, a very exciting collaboration." Knitting Factory Records is proud to reissue Music of Many Colours on limited edition rainbow starburst vinyl, exclusive to Record Store Day. This is the first pressing of the album since the late 80’s. Music of Many Colours is a joint album between Roy Ayers and Fela Kuti, recorded after a three week tour of Nigeria’s major cities in 1979, during which Roy Ayers performed as the opening act for Fela’s band. The two artists decided to record the album as a round-up to the tour. Roy Ayers describes the experience saying, “I met Fela Kuti in Nigeria in 1979, and we fell into a great relationship, good personal and music vibes, and we recorded that album together. Fela also came to USA in the eighties and we performed at NYC's Madison Square Garden. Amazingly energetic, Fela Kuti had a very original concept that was called Afro Beat – a genre with a very unique identity and exceptional music. One of Fela Kuti's most impressive qualities was that he was undeniably a brilliant show man, as a musician and as a huge dancer as well. His African concept was truly original… The tour was about two black men together coming together, one from Africa and other from USA, a very exciting collaboration."

                  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.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  A. Afrodisiac
                  B. Jeun Ko Ku

                  Fela Kuti

                  Gentleman

                    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. 

                    TRACK LISTING

                    A. Gentleman
                    B. Igbe

                    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.


                      TRACK LISTING

                      A1. Lady
                      B1. Shakara

                      Fela Kuti

                      Zombie

                        On the title track Fela and the backup singers ridicule the mindset of men in uniform over an urgent, quick-march accompaniment from Afrika 70. The album was a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers using the zombie metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian military. ‘Zombie’ was a smash hit with the people and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic (a commune that Fela had established in Nigeria). Fela was badly beaten, sustaining a fractured skull and several broken bones. His mother, then aged 77, was thrown out of a window, fracturing a leg and suffering deep trauma. The army then set fire to the compound. The blaze gutted the premises, destroying six Afrika 70 vehicles, all Fela’s master tapes and band equipment and a four-track recording studio. 

                        Fela Kuti

                        Beasts Of No Nation

                          Considering that Fela's performances (even on record) always had an improvisatory aspect to them, the Egypt 80 proves to be a highly flexible and responsive group. In comparison to the hard-driving Africa 70, The Egypt 80 was more attuned to the texture and subtleties that Fela was developing in his late-period work. Although the Africa 70 excelled in executing highly complex beats derived from local traditions, "Beasts of No Nation" shows that Fela was experimenting beyond the boundaries his previous work. Repeated listening reveals some of his most complex arrangements and memorable melodic material, seamlessly bound into an improvisatory tapestry.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          Beasts Of No Nation (Instrumental)
                          Beasts Of No Nation (Vocal)

                          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.

                          TRACK LISTING

                          01. Buy Africa – Baloji & L’Orchestre De La Katuba Featuring Kuku
                          02. Lady - TUnE-yArDs, Questlove, Angelique Kidjo + Akua Naru
                          03. Yellow Fever - Spoek Mathambo + Zaki Ibrahim
                          04. No Buredi - Nneka, Sinkane, Amayo + Superhuman Happiness
                          05. Who No Know Go No - Just A Band + Childish Gambino
                          06. Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am - My Morning Jacket W/ Merrill Garbus + Brittany Howard
                          07. Sorrow Tears And Blood - TV On The Radio’s Kyp Malone And Tunde Adebimpe, Kronos Quartet + Stuart Bogie
                          08. ITT - Superhuman Happiness W/ Sahr Ngaujah, Abena Koomson + Rubblebucket
                          09. Afrodisco Beat 2013 - Tony Allen, M1 + Baloji
                          10. Gentleman - Just A Band, Bajah + Chance The Rapper
                          11. Hi Life Time - GendEr Infinity
                          12. Zombie - Spoek Mathambo + Cerebral Cortex + Frown
                          13. Go Slow - King

                          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

                            VIP / Authority Stealing

                              This CD really consists of two lengthy songs. The first half of the CD consists of a live performance from Berlin in 1979, 'VIP' (Vagabonds in Power). This concert was important in its own right, as Fela was finally able to perform after being banned (officially or unofficially) from performing in a number of African nations due to his inflammatory lyrics. 'Authority Stealing' was recorded a couple of years prior. This album was actually inflammatory enough to initiate another round of beatings to Fela from the hands of government thugs, this time nearly killing him.

                              Fela Kuti

                              Shuffering And Shmiling / No Agreement

                                "Shuffering and Shmiling" is an attack on various non-native religions that Fela saw as encroaching upon the people of Nigeria, causing factions to emerge and rendering the people unable to unify as they needed to. The album was originally released in 1977. No Agreement, another album from 1977, essentially makes the statement (from Fela), that he won't speak against his common man in such a way as to let the government hurt them. "No Agreement" also boasts some nice trumpet work from Art Ensemble of Chicago member Lester Bowie. Finally, "Dog Eat Dog" is the B-side from the original LP of No Agreement, and is a nice work of Afrobeat goodness. Any Fela album has the potential to be a remarkable piece of art in many ways. Getting two albums for the price of one makes it even better.

                                Fela Kuti

                                Ikoyi Blindness / Kalakuta Show

                                  This CD reissue combines two 1976 releases, Ikoyi Blindness and Kalakuta Show, on one disc. Ikoyi Blindness was a middle-of-the-pack release in a sea of mid-'70s Fela records that featured two songs and about a half-hour's worth of music. The rhythms were a little tighter and more highlife-influenced than they had been on albums from earlier in the decade. "Ikoyi Blindness" itself was pretty typical of Fela efforts from the period, both in its structure that built up to a call-and-response vocal and in its taut two-chord melodic base. "Gba Mi Leti Ki N'Dolowo (Slap Me Make I Get Money)" is a little more interesting due to its choppier rhythms, more vibrant percussion, stuttering low guitar riff, and extended haunting electric keyboard lines. By the time of 1976's Kalakuta Show, Fela's releases were starting to seem not so much like records as ongoing installments in one long jam documenting the state of mind of Nigeria's leading contemporary musician and ideological/political dissenter.

                                  Fela Kuti

                                  Expensive Shit / He Miss Road

                                    Knitting Factory continues its excellent Fela Kuti reissue series with the release of this disc containing two of Kuti's finest from the 1970s. For He Miss Road and Expensive Shit, Fela still carried his original last name - Ransome-Kuti (which changed to his more radical moniker Anikulapo-Kuti later), but he had grown since his early 1970s albums in two important ways. First, Fela had been radicalized beyond his introduction to US-style black power and had been framed by Nigerian authorities, who placed marijuana in his possession. He promptly ate the dope, after which authorities arrested him and waited for him to defecate so they could test the dung for drugs. Not a sexy scheme, and not even a workable scheme, but it did give Fela fodder - specifically the tune (and album title) "Expensive Shit." His second advance came in the form of using the studio as a virtual instrument, one that makes He Miss Road a trippy, stuttery, reverb-laden intersection of lean Afro-beat and 70s astro-funk. Ginger Baker was at the controls for Road, and Fela shone through the weird studio ambience. Africa 70 was a band given to leaning back into the percussion weave the drummers - led by Tony Allen - laid down. Their inherently languid pacing was enhanced by Baker's studio play, and the results are outstanding.

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    1. Expensive Shit
                                    2. Water No Get Enemy
                                    3. He Miss Road
                                    4. Monday Morning In Lagos
                                    5. It's No Possible

                                    Fela Kuti

                                    Alagbon Close / Why Black Man Dey Suffer

                                      Though preceded by the more-than-promising Gentleman and Afrodisiac in 1973, 'Alagbon Close', with the benefit of hindsight, marks a quantum leap for Kuti, Allen and Afro-beat. Most of the elements which make the disc so compelling can be heard on earlier albums, but on 'Alagbon Close' Kuti and Tony Allen pull them all together to devastating effect, in the process creating the definitive Afrobeat paradigm.

                                      Africa 70 plays with unprecedented fire: the four-piece horn section was never more majestic; the nagging riffs and ostinatos of the tenor and rhythm guitars never more insistent. Allen is a lithe-limbed colossus, his soon-to-be signature rhythms at times pushing the band forward with extraordinary percussive power, at others drawing it back like a coiled spring, only to unleash it again. Three conga drummers support him. Kuti's screaming multi-octave glissandos on the organ climax an incantatory solo, and the track's concluding drums and horns passage is Africa 70 at its most epic.

                                      'Why Black Man Dey Suffer' is a more formative affair. It's one of a series of early 1970s' albums which made the transition between the highlife and jazz blend of Kuti and Allen's first band, Koola Lobitos, and the turbulent magnificence of mature Afrobeat. Trumpeter Tunde Williams, baritone saxophonist Lekan Animashaun and first conga player Henry Kofi, from later line-ups including that on Alagbon Close, are also in place.

                                      Fela Kuti

                                      Confusion / Gentleman

                                        This, another installment from Knitting Factory's superb recollecting of Fela's original albums, includes two of the most notable albums from the mid-70s. 'Gentleman' is primarily a verbal battering of the post-colonial mentality of his fellow Africans (also abused elsewhere in other albums). This isn't the full-blooded political anger that would come about stronger in times to come, but it's a gentle step in that direction. It also marks the first album featuring tenor sax work by Fela himself, after Igo Chico had quit the band. 'Confusion', a single-track, 15 minute-long album two years after 'Gentleman', stands as a commentary of the state of affairs in downtown Lagos.

                                        Fela Kuti

                                        Confusion

                                          Fela Kuti's 1975 "Confusion" shows him and Africa 70 at the heights of instrumental prowess and ambiguous jibes (the stabs are about to get a bit more direct and heated with 1977's "Zombie"). "Confusion" begins with an unusual free jazz interplay between Fela on organ and drummer Tony Allen that has the presence of 2001: A Space Odyssey in its omnipresent drama. Then the group falls into a lengthily mid-tempo Afro-funk that plays with a sureness that only comes from skilled musicians and a dictator-like leader; here is the formula that had made Fela a genius: Once he has the listener (or the crowd - as all of his songs were originally meant to entertain and educate his audiences at the Shrine) entranced in his complex (and at the same time, deceptively simple) arrangements of danceable grooves, he hits them with what he wants to say. "Confusion" is a comment on the general condition of urban Nigeria (Lagos, in particular). Fela uses traffic jams, no fewer than three dialects, and a multitude of currencies that make trading difficult to complete the allusion to the general post-colonial confusion of a Nigeria lacking in infrastructure and proper leadership. "Confusion" is a highly recommended 25-minute Afro-beat epic.

                                          Fela Kuti

                                          Original Sufferhead / ITT

                                            After the government-sponsered murder of his mother, Fela briefly lived in exile in Ghana, returning to Nigeria in 1978. In 1979 he formed his own political party, MOP (Movement of the People), and at the start of the new decade renamed his band Egypt 80. From 1980-1983, Nigeria was under civilian rule, and it was a relatively peaceful period for Fela, who recorded and toured non-stop. "ITT" (1980) and "Original Sufferhead" (1981) were recorded in this period and are amongst his best, most sophisticated recordings. the sound is clean and dynamic and the grooves are some of the best he ever laid down.


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