Fela Kuti: Best of the Black President 2

By Andy Snipper/Music News

Fela Kuti was an important figure in both African music and politics. He was involved in the European jazz scene as well as politics in Nigeria following contacts with the Black Panthers following a US tour.

In his short life he made some of the most hypnotic music ever to have come out of the black continent. He invented the term AfroBeat after a sojourn in Ghana and performed legendary sets with his various outfits including Africa 70, Egypt 80 and Koola Lobitos. On his travels he played with acts such as Lester Bowie, Hugh Masakela, Ginger Baker and Roy Ayers. His son Seun is still playing with the musicians that made up Egypt 80.

This double set takes a long journey through his music and the influences are all there toi hear – his rhythmic sax playing and percussive blowing as well as the constant, pounding drums in the background. His lyrics tended to be in pidgin – there are literally hundreds of tribal languages across Africa and pidgin is a polyglot that is understood all over – but his subject matter varys from the outright political to diatribes against drug use and for personal freedom.
The remarkable thing about this set is just how fresh and modern it sounds. He was active from 1958 through to his death in 1997 but there is nothing here that sounds dated or stuck in time. The music is powerful and the themes equally and you find, as a listener, that you are drawn into the constant rhythms and carried along with the repetition and hypnotised by the music.
The tracks are all over 10 minutes long and they tend to develop a theme to its ultimate but the music here has no feeling of sameness about the tracks – his output was incredibly varied and this album gives a good feel for most parts of his career.

The deluxe version includes a DVD of his Glastonbury set from ’84 and is well worth having but the music on the two CDs is essential.

Disc: 1
1. Everything Scatter
2. Expensive Shit
3. Underground System Pt. 2
4. Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Em
5. Monkey Banana
6. Sorrow Tears and Blood
Disc: 2
1. Black Man's Cry
2. Mr. Follow Follow
3. He Miss Road
4. Yellow Fever
5. Na Poi
6. Colonial Mentality


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