In 2013 Knitting Factory Records reissued the complete works of Nigerian icon and Afrobeat originator Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Almost 50 original albums were released over 26 individual CDs, all re-packaged, with in-depth track commentaries written by Afrobeat historian Chris May, as well as the compilations 'The Best Of The Black President' (part 1 + 2) and the deluxe CD box set 'The Complete Works'.
Now, in response to popular demand, six of Fela's most important albums will be reissued on vinyl. This will be the first time they are released as individual vinyl albums since their original vinyl release in Nigeria in the 70s and 80s - something which will not only delight audiophile Fela fans, but also the admirers of Lemi Ghariokwu's iconic artwork, now again at 12 x 12 inches as it was intended.
Fela With Ginger Baker Live! - Original year of release: 1971
Originally recorded in 1971 and 1978 by Fela Kuti's band, Africa 70, with the addition of former Cream drummer Ginger Baker, this album contains four songs plus a bonus track 16-minute drum duet between Baker and Africa 70's drummer Tony Allen recorded at the 1978 Berlin Jazz Festival.
Track 1 - Let's Start
Track 2 - Black Man's Cry
Track 3 - Ye Ye De Smell
Track 4 - Egbe Mi O (Carry Me I Want To Die)
Confusion - Original year of release: 1974
This epic Afrobeat album contains just one eponymous track clocking in at just over 25 minutes in length, and beginning with a mysterious and psychedelic musical interplay between Fela on organ and Tony Allen on drums. As the song takes on a righteously funky groove, Fela evokes the chaos of Lagos – the multitude of regional dialects, the gnarly traffic jams, the absence of a policeman to take charge – as a metaphor for the larger problems of post-colonial Nigeria.
Track 1 - Confusion (Part 1)
Track 2 - Confusion (Part 2)
Expensive Shit - Original year of release: 1975
Nigerian police, seeking to put down this independent-minded rascal, tried to plant a joint on Kuti during a gathering at his home. Wise to their plan, he quickly swallowed the joint, but the police then threw him in jail to produce the evidence from his faeces. He escaped charges with some wily plotting, and then produced this song mocking the police for wasting resources on hassling him instead of furthering justice in Nigeria. Opening brass rounds give way to interplay between Fela's narration about the episode and responses from his group of female singers.
Track 1 - Expensive Shit
Track 2 - Water No Get Enemy
He Miss Road - Original year of release: 1975
'He Miss Road' combines the sound of James Brown-style 70s funk with a stripped down Afrobeat performance. Ginger Baker produced this ethereal, nearly psychedelic album with Tony Allen on drums, backed by Fela's Africa 70 band. The title track refers to the ways in which people have lost their way – and the ensuing chaos it causes.
Track 1 - He Miss Road
Track 2 - Monday Morning In Lagos
Track 3 - It's No Possible
Sorrow Tears & Blood - Original year of release: 1977
Fela wrote the title track of this album in response to the 1976 Soweto Uprising in which thousands of South African students protested the forced teaching of Afrikaans, the colonial language of Apartheid. During the uprising and the ensuing riots, hundreds of students were killed. The song calls out killings that have gone on in the name of authority and totalitarian rule as well as the instruments of repression of colonial Africa – the police and the army. The music parallels the somber tone of the lyrics; focused and direct, and track avoids the usual bombastic funk of Fela compositions. Side A:
Track 1 - Sorrow Tears & Blood
Track 2 - Colonial Mentality
Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense - Original year of release: 1986
The title track sees Fela explaining the role of the teacher in any society with the concept that everything we consider as problems, and everything we accept as good in life, begin with what we are taught. With production help coming from the extremely talented and prolific Wally Badarou, these songs have Fela's most full-bodied sound to date and a horn section that's much hotter and brassier than ever before. "Look and Laugh" is among Fela's most compelling songs and details the attack from Nigerian soldiers on his home, the Kalakuta Compound, in a detached, almost journalistic way.
Track 1 - Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense (Part 2)
Track 2 - Look And Laugh (Part 2)