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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 1972 | Knitting Factory Records

Distinctions Discothèque Idéale Qobuz
Afrodisiac est, et cela peut sembler facile, mais c'est pourtant l'inéluctable vérité, l'album idéal pour faire l'amour. L'instrumentation est un modèle de tension et de fébrilité, toujours haletante et sur le point d'exploser en un épanchement d'extases, assaillie par le saxophone baryton de Lekan Animashaun et les trompettes d'Eddie Faychum, et de Tunde Williams. Mais les percussions, la voix et les accords électriques de Féla Kuti gardent les sens sous contrôle, retardant pour le plus grand plaisir de l'auditeur l'échéance dionysiaque. L'album idéal pour faire l'amour certes, mais l'album idéal pour aimer tout simplement, d'un amour incandescent, excessif et flamboyant ; d'un amour byzantin. Amour fourmillant d'ivresses, que l'empereur de l'afrobeat dévore ici avec une lascivité incomparable.© René Obe/Qobuz
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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 1973 | Knitting Factory Records

Distinctions Discothèque Idéale Qobuz
Un bon cru pour Fela, composé comme toujours de peu de chansons (quatre), la longueur de chacune (vingt-cinq minutes pour « Confusion », quatorze pour « Gentleman ») faisant tout de même de cet album un plat assez copieux. Avatar de Funk à la limite du psychédélisme, le style Afrobeat est ici à son apogée, grâce notamment à un remarquable travail des guitares et des percussions (l’inévitable Tony Allen, compère habituel de Fela). Eclatant de vie et plutôt accessible, ce disque peut constituer pour les novices une bonne introduction à l’Afrobeat. © ©Copyright Music Story Nikita Malliarakis 2016
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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 1972 | Knitting Factory Records

Distinctions Discothèque Idéale Qobuz
Avec l’album Shakara, Fela Kuti est à un point crucial de sa carrière. Nous sommes en 1972 : il vient de connaître son premier succès continental avec Chop ’n’ Quench, de transformer le nom de son groupe Nigeria 70 en Africa 70, d’apprendre, en 24 heures selon la légende, à jouer du saxophone, d’adopter pour langue d’écriture le créole anglophone pidgin, touchant ainsi un plus large public. Il vient aussi de prendre possession du club de l’hôtel Empire à Lagos, rebaptisé African Shrine, le temple africain où il délivre chaque soir des concerts légendaires avec son groupe et sa myriade de danseuses. Tous les éléments du succès et de la légende sont réunis et ce Shakara, qui contient le morceau-titre et le fameux Lady, signe avec fierté le début de cette ère glorieuse pour le plus sulfureux et respecté des musiciens africains.Les deux titres épiques s’étirent chacun sur 13 minutes et des poussières. Fela, de son orgue Rhodes, dont le jeu n’est pas sans évoquer celui de Ray Manzarek des Doors, impulse la dramaturgie, Tony Allen imprime le rythme si spécifique de l’afrobeat et dirige les musiciens. Les guitares maintiennent la pression, les cuivres montent à l’assaut tels des guerriers, marquent les reliefs et les volutes de ces sensuelles épopées. Le chant impérial de Fela, auquel répondent les chœurs féminins, provoque aujourd’hui encore des frissons irrépressibles.Lady comme Shakara s’adressent aux femmes, d’une façon ambiguë qui a pu déclencher l’ire des féministes. Dans Lady, Fela distingue la simple femme africaine, docile, obéissante et serviable à son mari, de la lady éduquée et influencée par les mœurs occidentales qui se veut l’égal de l’homme. On sent chez Fela une préférence pour la première et une certaine crainte de la seconde, mais s’il est connu pour avoir épousé 27 Nigérianes le même jour, il a aussi été éperdument épris d’une lady métisse anglaise, Remilekun Taylor, qui lui a donné son fils Femi. Dans Shakara (fanfaron), il démonte les mécanismes des mâles dominateurs qui menacent les femmes de violence, mais dont le baratin n’est que vacuité. Quoi qu’on en pense, le discours musical est, lui, imparable et constitue l’essence d’un genre historique toujours en action. Aussi bons que soient ses descendants et multiples héritiers, l’afrobeat ne sera jamais aussi clairement pénétrant qu’à travers la voix du maître initiateur : Fela Anikulapo Kuti. © Benjamin MiNiMuM/Qobuz
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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 1975 | Knitting Factory Records

Distinctions Discothèque Idéale Qobuz
Un bon cru pour Fela, composé comme toujours de peu de chansons (quatre), la longueur de chacune (vingt-cinq minutes pour « Confusion », quatorze pour « Gentleman ») faisant tout de même de cet album un plat assez copieux. Avatar de Funk à la limite du psychédélisme, le style Afrobeat est ici à son apogée, grâce notamment à un remarquable travail des guitares et des percussions (l’inévitable Tony Allen, compère habituel de Fela). Eclatant de vie et plutôt accessible, ce disque peut constituer pour les novices une bonne introduction à l’Afrobeat. © ©Copyright Music Story Nikita Malliarakis 2016
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Musiques du monde - Paru le 26 juillet 2005 | Knitting Factory Records

Fela Anikulapo Kuti (1938 -1997) est le père de l’afrobeat, un contre-pouvoir politique du gouvernement nigérian de son vivant, une figure mythologique du panafricanisme et le parrain de la musique africaine contemporaine. S’il ne peut s’agir ici que d’une simple introduction à une œuvre prolixe (57 albums), les 13 morceaux de The Best of the Black President en donnent toutefois un aperçu efficace. Cette compilation démarre avec les deux titres composant l’un des sommets de sa carrière paru en 1972, Shakara (Oloje), réalisé avec sa meilleure formation Africa ’70, dont le batteur Tony Allen était le pivot rythmique. Gentleman qui le suit nous amène un an plus tard, avec un détonant pamphlet sur les Africains imitant le mode de vie et vestimentaire occidental et marquant les débuts du chanteur-saxophoniste derrière le clavier, avec lequel il dessinera un toucher et un son unique.Zombie, hymne antimilitariste gravé en 1976, est un sommet de la carrière du Black President. Sorrow Tears and Blood a été écrit après l’assaut de l’armée et la police de Lagos, le 18 février 1977, sur la République de Kalakuta, la demeure de Fela et de ses proches. No Agreement, Pt. 2, un autre classique de l’afrobeat, ici réduit à sa seconde partie, date aussi de 1977, période où le saxophoniste américain Lester Bowie, cofondateur de l’Art Ensemble Of Chicago, avait rejoint Africa ’70. Sur Shuffering and Shmiling (1978), Fela s’en prend au pouvoir des religions monothéistes qui ont colonisé l’Afrique tandis que sur Coffin for Head of State, en 1980, il accuse le gouvernement nigérian de la mort de sa mère. Cette copieuse compilation se termine avec un edit de O.D.O.O. (Overtake Don Overtake Overtake), l’un de ses derniers coups d’éclat en 1990. © Benjamin MiniMuM/Qobuz
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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 1977 | Knitting Factory Records

Sans doute l’un des albums-charnières de Fela Kuti, Zombie est aussi celui qui bénéficie de l’aura la plus dramatique, car sa sortie sera la cause de l’assaut des militaires contre les locaux de Fela, et de la mort de la mère de ce dernier. Dans la chanson-titre, c’est en effet contre les militaires nigérians, habitués des abus et des brutalités (les fameux « zombies ») que Fela protestait. Comme souvent chez Fela, les titres de l’album sont peu nombreux (quatre) mais sont suffisamment longs et riches pour que leur qualité compense leur quantité. Guitares, percussions, instruments à vent forment un ensemble musical des plus vibrants pour cet album au groove envoûtant. © ©Copyright Music Story Nikita Malliarakis 2016
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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 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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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 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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Musiques du monde - Paru le 4 mars 2013 | Knitting Factory Records

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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 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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Musiques du monde - Paru le 4 mars 2013 | Knitting Factory Records

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Musiques du monde - Paru le 9 septembre 2014 | Knitting Factory Records

Finding Fela, the documentary by director Alex Gibney, is a compelling film that was originally intended to portray the cast of the Bill T. Jones musical Fela! during rehearsals and performances in Lagos, Nigeria; it's the first Broadway musical ever staged there. While capturing hundreds of hours of footage with a local film crew about the production and its reception by a Lagos audience, questions naturally arose about the wild life and times of the musical's subject, Fela Kuti himself. Gibney shot interviews with musicians -- those who played with him and those who were admirers -- and family, friends, and acquaintances, and wove them in with performance footage of Kuti's bands. This double-disc soundtrack is not so much a best-of, but it does contain significant music from throughout Kuti's career, from his highlife and R&B sides, to his full-on experiments that wed funk, jazz, and African rhythms in a completely integrative sound that became his invention: Afrobeat. Disc one includes "Highlife Time," cut by his first band Koola Lobitos in Los Angeles between 1964 and 1968. "Viva Nigeria" and "Lover" are from those same sessions but the bands are different -- these are the earliest recordings by Nigeria 70 and Africa 70. "Jeun Ko Ku (Chop and Quench)" was Kuti's first real hit in 1973, selling 200,000 copies in its first six months. Edited versions of "Johnny Just Drop" and "Upside Down," as well as the full-length "Egbe Mi O" (from a live date that featured Ginger Baker) are here, along with the self-titled second part (half the album) of Africa 70's "VIP." The second disc carries mostly edits from some of Africa 70's and Africa 80's best-known tunes, though some of these -- "Teacher Don't Teach Me No Nonsense," "Beasts of No Nation," and "Shuffering and "Shmiling" -- are over 12 minutes long. The two outliers -- "Zombie" and "Colonial Mentality" -- are excellent readings by the musical's Fela! Band. The latter features Femi Kuti leading the group in a blistering extended version, live at the Kuti family's New Afrika Shrine. The fact that the show band covers two tunes here does not detract from the recording's significance. As a soundtrack it works wonderfully. As a musical introduction its lack of source documentation is bit of a drawback, but that's a small complaint. © Thom Jurek /TiVo

Musiques du monde - Paru le 8 avril 2016 | Knitting Factory Records

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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 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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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 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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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 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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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 1975 | Knitting Factory Records

He Miss Road was produced by none other than Ginger Baker, who was a semi-regular jamming partner of Fela Kuti's as well as a close friend. And the tunes Fela wrote for this platter are wild, cosmic, sexy as hell, and deeply saturated in funk à la James Brown. The B-3 solo at the beginning of the title track is simply a device for inviting the band in. The B-3 is way up in the mix, supercharged. The echo effects Baker used on the organ and the horns add a nice touch and create a different textural quality, one that is spacious, to be sure, but still rooted in the shamanic repetition as the riff goes on forever no matter what instruments enter or leave the mix. The vocals show up midway through as everything gets tense and explodes. "Monday Morning in Lagos" is deep, dark, swirling Afro-funk. It's moody, spooky, and its organ line just stitches the whole groove together. The final cut, "It's No Promise," is pure Nigerian trance music. The longest track here, it's also the most abstract. It's held together by Tony Allen's drumming and the popping bassline by Franco Aboddy. This is one of Fela's cookers, an album from his most creative period, and it reigns among the best in his extensive catalog. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 1976 | Knitting Factory Records

By the time of 1976's Kalakuta Show, Fela Kuti's releases seemed 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. Thus, any one album works better on its own than it does when it has to bear comparison with the rest of his mountainous output. The track "Kalakuta Show" was unexceptional by his own standards, though it was a respectable lock-groove song that followed the usual graph of Kuti's song progressions. The lyrics, at any rate, go far outside the usual funk/pop spectrum, detailing his harassment at the hands of the Nigerian police. "Don't Make Garan Garan" was musically more effective, particularly in its use of the artist's characteristically eerie, out-of-sync-sounding electric keyboards. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 1989 | Knitting Factory Records

Even if American commercial radio did play more world music, they'd have a hard time with Fela Kuti's albums -- which tend to be very loose and improvisatory and favor extended, jazz-influenced horn solos. Kuti believes in finding an irresistible groove or an appealing theme, staying on it, and working it to death -- something he has in common with everyone from Hindu and Islamic singers to James Brown and George Clinton. It's an approach that works wonders on this set's two extended pieces: the 31-minute "O.D.O.O. (Overtake Don Overtake Overtake)" and the 29-minute "C.B.B. (Confusion Break Bones)," both of which show us how appealing repetition can be with the right theme. Funk and soul fans will appreciate Kuti's love of the endless groove, while jazz aficionados should pay attention to the long sax solos. Kuti has recorded many good albums over the years, and O.D.O.O. is certainly among them. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Musiques du monde - Paru le 1 janvier 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

L'interprète

Fela Kuti dans le magazine