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CD7,99 Fr.

Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1975 | Knitting Factory Records

Auszeichnungen Qobuz' Schallplattensammlung
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. [In 2000, MCA released Confusion and Gentleman as a two-fer.] © Sam Samuelson /TiVo
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1977 | Knitting Factory Records

Sorrow Tears and Blood (1977) accurately depicts the trail left in the wake of the February 18, 1977, raid by 1,000 armed Nigerian army men on Fela Kuti and his Kalakuta Republic. In keeping with the format upheld on a majority of Kuti's long players, this LP contains a pair of extended works, featuring one title per side. In contrast to the hard-edged and aggressive Afro-funk that Kuti and his Africa 70 became synonymous with, both the A-side title track and B-side, "Colonial Mentality," are seemingly staid, in light -- or perhaps because -- of the cruel state-sponsored attacks that he and his extended family suffered. "Sorrow Tears and Blood" is neither a full-blown, uptempo funk drone nor a somber dirge. The even-handed, midtempo groove trots along at a steady pace and features some comparatively sedate sax work from Kuti. Even the instrumental introduction -- which has been known to clock in at over five minutes -- is reduced to well under three. His lyrics are starkly direct -- "Everybody run, run, run/Everybody scatter, scatter/Some people lost some bread/Some people just die" -- yet the emotive center is gone. Perhaps this is the result of fear, shellshock, or a combination of the two. Kuti's words, however, remain as indicting as ever: "Them leave sorrow, tears, and blood/Them regular trademark." "Colonial Mentality" returns to a more seething and slinky musicality. The dark and brooding bassline undulates beneath a brass-intensive Africa 70. Rarely has Kuti's musical arrangements so perfectly imaged James Brown's J.B.'s or Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra. The message is delivered as a fable, demonstrating that it is the individuals who live in a stifling "Colonial Mentality" who are the slaves. His preface, stating that the colonial man had released them yet they refuse to release themselves, sets out to prove that slavery is a continual and concurrent state of mind for Africans. © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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ITT

Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1979 | Knitting Factory Records

Fela Kuti's records in the early and middle 1980s contain some of the most directly scathing remarks ever put to disc (notably, Original Suffer Head, Coffin for Head of State, and Authority Stealing). Sure, Ice-T, N.W.A., and Eminem have since been more pointedly offensive, but Fela deploys a smarter, slyer, and wittier approach to satire than anyone else. In I.T.T. (a play on the telecommunications company, International Telephone and Telegraph), he attacks two central characters that Fela calls out as thieves by name: President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo and Chairman of ITT and President of Decca Records, M.K.O. Abiola. Fela gets the jabbing started by describing how the British used to employ their African subjects to carry trailers full of excrement throughout the cities for disposal, then transposes the attack to Obasanjo and Abiola as they have forced their African subjects to carry their metaphorical sh*t of oppression, inflation, and corruption. He says, "We don't tire to carry anymore of them sh*t," while a rousing, call-to-arms chorus backs him up; Fela continues, "We go fight them well now." His methods were very dangerous, as his enemies were extremely powerful and his audience very receptive. For his actions, Fela would continue to be beaten and jailed throughout his life. Musically, I.T.T. is an average instrumental attack; however, average for Fela and Africa 70 is still quite above the watermark. [In 2000, MCA released I.T.T. as a two-fer with Original Suffer Head.] © Sam Samuelson /TiVo
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CD11,49 Fr.

Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 26. Juli 2005 | Knitting Factory Records

The Best of the Black President is simply a stellar collection that bests any two-disc collection out there as it represents the continued evolution of Fela Kuti's music from the 1960s through the 1990s. Compiled by son Femi, many tracks are edits of the originals -- "Gentleman," "Water Get No Enemy," "O.D.O.O." -- whose power is not reduced. Still others are second-halfs -- like "ITT," "Coffin for Head of State," "No Agreement," "Army Arrangement," and "Shuffering and Schmiling." Still others, such as "Zombie," "Sorrow Tears and Blood," "Shakara" and "Roforofo Fight," are presented in their original form. The track lineup is stellar; the sound has been completely remastered from the Fela reissue series sponsored by Barclay in France. There are also two fine liner essays from Jacqueline Grandchamp-Thiam and Rikki Stein (his friend and manager for the past 15 years of his life). In addition to all of this is an excellent introduction to the genius and spirit of a giant. For those who have everything, this is a killer mix and needs to be in the collection anyway. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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CD7,99 Fr.

Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1977 | Knitting Factory Records

Zombie was the most popular and impacting record that Fela Kuti & Africa 70 would record -- it ignited the nation to follow Fela's lead and antagonize the military zombies that had the population by the throat. Fela is direct and humorous in his attack as he barks out commands to the soldiers like: "Attention! Double up! Fall In! Fall out! Fall down! Get ready!" Meanwhile, his choir responds with "Zombie!" in between each statement. Since the groove was so absolutely contagious, it took the nation by storm: People in the street would put on a blank stare and walk with hands affront proclaiming "Zombie!" whenever they would see soldiers. If "Zombie" caught the attention of the populous it also cought the attention of the authority figures -- this would cause devastating personal and professional effects as the Nigerian government came down on him with absolute brute force not long after the release of this record. Also included are "Monkey Banana," a laid-back groove that showcases drummer Tony Allen's mastery of the Afro-beat, and "Everything Scatter," a standard mid-tempo romp. Both songs are forgetful in relation to "Zombie," but this is still an essential disc to own for the title track alone. © Sam Samuelson /TiVo
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1975 | Knitting Factory Records

This disc is an overt response to the consistent harassment afflicting Fela Kuti's Kalakuta Republic in the early '70s under the oppressive Lagos authorities. The title track is a direct reference to an actual incident that occurred in which the cops planted a marijuana cigarette on Kuti -- who promptly swallowed it and therefore destroyed any evidence. He was then held until he could pass the drugs from his system -- which miraculously did not occur when his fecal sample was then sent for analysis, thanks to some help from his fellow inmates. Because of the costs incurred during this debacle, Kuti proclaimed his excrement as Expensive Shit. Musically, the Afro-funk and tribal rhythms that Kuti and his Africa '70 put down can rightfully be compared to that of James Brown or even a George Clinton-esque vibe. The beats are infectious with a hint of Latin influence, making the music nearly impossible to keep from moving to. Although the band is large, it is also remarkably tight and malleable enough to accompany and punctuate Kuti's vehement and indicting lyrics. The nature of what Kuti says, as well as infers, amounts to much more than simply whining or bad-rapping the law. His witty and thoughtful raps not only relate his side of the incident, but do so with tongue-in-cheek humor -- such as the statement that his oppressors must really enjoy his feces because they want to examine it so urgently. Yet, he tries to stay away from it, for somewhat obvious reasons. The album's B-side contains the metaphysical "Water No Get Enemy." This is a comparatively jazzy piece, with Africa '70 again exploring and stretching out its impulsive beats behind Kuti's singing. The track features some of his finest and most inspired keyboard work as well. He weaves hypnotic and ethereal electric piano lines over the earthy-sounding brass section. The laid-back groove works well in contrast to the manic tempo of "Expensive Shit." © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1971 | Knitting Factory Records

Originally released in 1971, this LP had Fela Kuti solidifying the format that would take him into international visibility in the years to come: extended tracks with grooves that mixed African and funk rhythms, punctuated by rudimentary lyrics. There are just four songs on the album, none shorter than seven minutes, and all but one going over the ten-minute mark. More than a dozen strong, his band, the Africa '70, cooks pretty well on tracks that fuse jazz, soul, and African music in a trancelike fashion that avoids becoming stale, despite the length of the arrangements. Ex-Cream/Blind Faith drummer Ginger Baker's name was given prominence in the billing, probably to attract rock- and pop-oriented listeners who might not ordinarily take a chance on music from the African continent. However, it's Fela and Africa '70, not Baker, who are the dominant presence on a record that sounds much like a mixture of James Brown, fusion, and Nigerian forms. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1977 | Knitting Factory Records

Recorded in 1977, No Agreement follows the Afro-beat template to a masterful level: amazingly catchy guitar lines that replicate a bass guitar in their construction, a second guitarist to add some JB's funk power, driving horn section proclamations, intricate saxophone, trumpet and organ improv solos, and then Fela Anikulopo Kuti's wit and message for the people. Even though Fela had vowed to speak his mind, he turns in a song where he proclaims to keep his mouth shut if it means that he will harm his brothers and sisters in the population (not that he actually does, as some of his most scathing songs have yet to come). "No Agreement" is decidedly some of the most interesting instrumentation that he had turned in. With help from Art Ensemble of Chicago trumpeter extradordinare Lester Bowie (Bowie turned in a tenure of about a year with Fela), the solos are magically inspired and the rhythm section rolls on with the power of a steamroller. "Dog Days," the instrumental B-side, sounds more like "No Agreement" part two; it does, however, carry its own weight -- again with the help from Bowie. [In 2000, MCA released No Agreement with Shuffering and Shmiling as a two-fer.] © Sam Samuelson /TiVo
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1971 | Knitting Factory Records

In 1971, Fela Anikulapo Kuti's record company (EMI) agreed to finance a recording date in London for Fela and band. Now huge stars in Nigeria, this trip was, in a way, a triumphant return to the country that had provided Fela with a musical education and the club scene where he cut his proverbial bandleader's teeth. What is important to note is that he had become good friends with former Cream (and at the time of this recording current Blind Faith) drummer Ginger Baker, who had traveled to Lagos a year earlier to meet, hang out, and play with Fela. Baker shows up on this recording (albeit uncredited) on the track "Egbe Mio," but more importantly helped get Fela gigs all over the city at such venerable venues as the 100 Club, the Cue Club, and the Four Aces. Recording at Abbey Road (a.k.a. the hallowed home of the Beatles) Fela cut these five awesome tracks in which his Afrobeat sound is more complex and jazzy than on the '69 Los Angeles Sessions. At over 13 minutes "J'ehin J'ehin" cuts a wicked groove for its entire length pushed by the horn section and Tony Allen's superlative drumming. "Buy Africa" is a anti-colonial rant worthy of the Last Poets, and "Fight to Finish" very simply kicks out the jams. A stunning record that marks the beginning of Fela's best period of recording. © John Dougan /TiVo
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1980 | Knitting Factory Records

This meeting of the minds and bands of Afro-funk creator Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and American vibist and R&B/jazz innovator Roy Ayers is a collaboration that shouldn't work on the surface. Fela's music was raw, in your face politically and socially, and musically driven by the same spirit as James Brown's JBs. At the time of this recording in 1979, Ayers had moved out of jazz entirely and become an R&B superstar firmly entrenched in the disco world. Ayers' social concerns -- on record -- were primarily cosmological in nature. So how did these guys pull off one of the most badass jam gigs of all time, with one track led by each man and each taking a full side of a vinyl album? On hand were Fela's 14-piece orchestra and an outrageous chorus made up of seven of his wives and five male voices. For his part, Ayers played vibes, and saxophonist Harold Land blew like the soul master he is. The rest of the Ayers septet performed on his tune only, the funk fest "2,000 Blacks Got to Be Free," an open-ended soul groove overdriven into Afro-funk by Fela's orchestra. Ayers is down on the quick changes, and his band leads the orchestra in pulling down the funk into a hypnotic sway and groove. On Fela's "Africa -- Centre of the World," everything starts out dark and slow with a chant from the master and then the chorus and Fela's trademark tenor honk. The horn section kicks in and Ayers starts playing all around the mix like a restless spirit. He darts in and out of the changes and sometimes hovers above them. The effect is as mesmerizing as it is driving. This is a sure bet for any bash where you want 'em to dance until they drop. For the purpose of musical history, this was a meeting that panned out in all the right ways and left listeners with a stellar gift of a recorded souvenir. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1972 | Knitting Factory Records

Auszeichnungen Qobuz' Schallplattensammlung
Mit dem Album Shakara befindet sich Fela Kuti an einem entscheidenden Punkt seiner Karriere. Wir sind im Jahr 1972: Er hat gerade seinen ersten kontinentalen Erfolg mit Chop 'n' Quench, erlebt, den Namen seiner Gruppe Nigeria 70 in Africa 70 umgewandelt, laut Legende innerhalb von 24 Stunden Saxophon erlernt sowie das englisch-kreolische Pidgin als Schriftsprache übernommen, um damit ein größeres Publikum zu erreichen. Er hat auch gerade den Empire Hotel Club in Lagos in Besitz genommen, der in African Shrine umbenannt wurde - ein afrikanischer Tempel, in dem er jeden Abend mit seiner Band und seinen unzähligen Tänzern legendäre Konzerte gibt. Alle Elemente von Erfolg und Legende sind dabei vereint. Und das Album Shakara, mit seinem Titelsong und dem berühmten Lady, markiert stolz den Beginn dieser glorreichen Ära für diesen unheimlichsten und angesehensten afrikanischen Musiker. Die beiden epischen Tracks erstrecken sich jeweils über gut 13 Minuten. Fela, deren Spiel auf der Rhodes-Orgel an das von Ray Manzarek von The Doors erinnert, treibt die Dramaturgie voran, und Tony Allen prägt den Afrobeat-spezifischen Rhythmus und dirigiert die Musiker. Die Gitarren halten den Druck aufrecht, die Bläser nehmen den Angriff wie Krieger auf. Felas Gesang, auf den die Frauenchöre antworten, verursacht auch heute noch ein Erdbeben, das nicht aufzuhalten ist.Was auch immer man davon hält, der musikalische Diskurs ist unaufhaltsam und bildet die Essenz eines immer in Aktion befindlichen historischen Genres. So gut seine Nachkommen und mehrere Erben auch sein mögen, Afrobeat wird nie so deutlich durchdringen wie durch die Stimme seines Meisters: Fela Anikulapo Kuti. © Benjamin MiNiMuM/Qobuz
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1972 | Knitting Factory Records

It's true that Fela Kuti's early-'70s records tend to blur together with their similar groupings of four lengthy Afro-funk-jazz cuts. In their defense, it must be said that while few artists can pull off similar approaches time after time and continue to make it sound fresh, Kuti is one of them. Each of the four songs on the 1972 album 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," and the horns cook in a way that they might have had Brown been more inclined to let his bands go into improvisational jams. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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CD7,99 Fr.

Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1987 | Knitting Factory Records

With production help from Wally Badarou, Fela Anikulapo Kuti offers up an interesting mix of songs (well, two to be exact) in both vocal and instrumental versions. Most compelling is the track "Look and Laugh," which details the attack by Nigerian soldiers on his Kalakuta compound. With simple lyrics, Fela runs down the horror of that attack in a detached, almost journalistic manner: "Till dem come/burn my house/burn my house/all my property/burn burn dem/beat beat me/kill my mama." Badarou's production help gives Fela his most full-bodied sound; the horn section is much hotter and brassier than ever before. The problem with this record is that with following an instrumental track with a vocal version of the same song, there's a certain lack of drama that blunts the impact of songs as powerful as "Look and Laugh." That said, this is very good mid-'80s Fela. The 2001 reissue on MCA adds a 22-minute bonus track, "Just Like That," which was originally released on 1989's Beast of No Nation album. © John Dougan /TiVo
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1976 | Knitting Factory Records

The entire mid-'70s found Fela Kuti and his Afrika 70 really honing in on their signature sound. Yellow Fever, released in 1976, sits right up there with No Agreement (1977) and Confusion (1975) both in terms of quality of the groove and Fela's tact in putting out his message. "Yellow Fever" opens with a couple of measures of guitar and bass interplay that sets up the standard funk-jazz vamp that will prod the entire length. The horn solos are reaching, explosive, and (though the word is overused) funky. Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker have some tough competition here, as these guys are unwielding in their voice. After eight minutes of instrumental eminence, Fela makes his own voice heard and gets to the meat of his product. The words speak of the strange practice of Africans lightening their skin -- this idea just doesn't jive with Fela's strong pan-African sentiments. As he gets progressively worked up, the choir responds to him exemplifying the idea and the vibe. Once Fela feels he's got his point across, he just lets the musicians have their fun until the end of this 15-minute rollick. An unbelievable and hard-hitting groove opens up "Na Poi" and slams in with absolute genius. This is actually another version of the same song from 1972. "Na Poi," banned by the Nigerian Broadcasting Company due to its sexual content, makes one wonder -- what was really going on in the Kalakuta Republic (his walled-in residence)? The instrumentation of "Na Poi" that began as genius settles into the familiar and works itself out until, once again, Fela decides to get down and literally dirty. This is an entertaining piece, but it doesn't really hold up to the rest of his material. [MCA released Yellow Fever and the full-length Na Poi as a two-fer in 2000.] © Sam Samuelson /TiVo
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1971 | Knitting Factory Records

Another long-thought-lost gem from the Fela Anikulapo Kuti archives, Open & Close was originally released in 1971 and, in the manner of He Miss Road and Fela's London Scene, is a total groove-fest loaded to the gills with raucous horn blowing, ferocious percussion (once again, Tony Allen take a bow), and song lengths over ten minutes. By this point, Fela could do no wrong when it came to recording; Afro-beat dissenters will claim that there is a trance-inducing similarity to much of Fela's '70s recorded output, that the grooves aren't enough to make the songs distinctive enough on their own. That's true of some of his later recordings (like in the mid- to late '80s), but at this point he was still breathing fire and the band was in top form. Perhaps the distinguishing factors of records like Open & Close and some of Fela's other '70s releases are that as much as he liked to ride a groove, he also liked to disrupt it, twist it and turn it, reshape it, only to bring it back to its original shape. There was less of that later in his career. © John Dougan /TiVo
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1975 | Knitting Factory Records

Perhaps one risks charges of artistic insensitivity by saying so, but by the mid-'70s Kuti's records were becoming predictable and formulaic to an extent. It was a good formula, played and sung with conviction, and if any individual record or two were the only evidence of his work, they would be properly respected as important music. However, it isn't too easy to differentiate, in large degrees, between his numerous releases of the era that comprised two (and exactly two) ten- to 15-minute songs. These are built from several minutes of instrumental interplay between electric keyboards, horns, and percussion to a vocal declaiming general platitudes about injustice and African identity, with energetic contributions from backup singers. Everything Scatter has two such songs. The ten-minute title track posits Kuti and his followers versus the status quo. The 15-minute "Who No Know Go Knows" strikes a more relaxed groove in its call for African unity. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1971 | Knitting Factory Records

This album is somewhat of an anomaly for Fela Kuti. Accompanied as always by the Africa '70 band, Kuti temporarily abandons his tradition of one song extending over an entire LP side -- although he hasn't strayed too far from form -- as the A-side track extends over basically one-and-a-half sides with the shorter funky rave "You No Go Die.....Unless" completing the B-side. In addition to that slight variance, the structure of Kuti's delivery, as well as the explicitly sexual intonation in the subject matter of "Na Poi" stray from tradition. The title song has somewhat of a history in that it was recorded and issued twice before. The first version from 1972 has not been reissued domestically; however, Yellow Fever (1976) updated the track, which carried the apt moniker "Na Poi '75." The following year the composition was revisited to comprise a lengthy version. In essence, the track is a sexual guide set to music. As such, it features both spoken narration as well as sung lyrics. "Na Poi"'s rhythms churn and grind through several notable movements -- including a spirited percussion section and several tight horn arrangements. These hark back to the same type of perpetual funk that became the cornerstone of Parliament and Funkadelic. Initially, the repercussions of such blatant sexuality resulted in the track being banned by the Nigerian Broadcasting Company -- although when the song was reissued in 1975 it snuck back on the air as the new version had an ever so slightly different name. "You No Go Die.....Unless" is much in the same spirit as James Brown's hard-driven funk musings. From Kuti's impassioned vocals to the upbeat syncopation of the rhythm, this track contains many obvious parallels between the mid-'70s stateside funk movement and that of concurrently popular African music. The incorporation of the Africa '70 horn section -- which is heavily featured during the bridges -- also provides a much thicker punctuation to Kuti's vocals. Lyrically, the song deals with the urban sprawl that was beginning to occur in Lagos -- in many ways a social observation on par with Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues" or Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City." © Lindsay Planer /TiVo
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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1976 | Knitting Factory Records

Ikoyi Blindness was a middle-of-the-pack release in a sea of mid-'70s Kuti 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 efforts from the period, both in a structure that built up to call-and-response vocal, and in a 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. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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CD11,49 Fr.

Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 8. Juni 2010 | Knitting Factory Records

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Aus aller Welt - Erschienen am 1. Januar 1972 | Knitting Factory Records

Auszeichnungen Qobuz' Schallplattensammlung
The four (lengthy, as usual) songs occupying this album were originally recorded in Nigeria as 45 rpm releases. Afrodisiac consists of re-recordings of these, done in London in the early '70s. While it's true that Fela Kuti's albums from this period are pretty similar to each other, in their favor they're not boring. These four workouts, all sung in Nigerian, are propulsive mixtures of funk and African music, avoiding the homogeneity of a lot of funk and African records of later vintage, done with nonstop high energy. The interplay between horns, electric keyboards, drums, and Kuti's exuberant vocals gives this a jazz character without sacrificing the earthiness that makes it danceable as well. "Jeun Ko Ku (Chop'n Quench)" became Kuti's first big hit in Nigeria, selling 200,000 copies in its first six months in its initial version. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo