The “Africa Sings!!!” Group just struck gold. We just received a collection of Fela CDs from Knitting Factory Records. They have been re-mastered and re-released in distinctive digi-packs with the original artwork.
Listen people, here’s the 411 with a hot-off-the-press release: The Knitting Factory Records reissue series is “the first time all of the titles were released on vinyl in North America!” It is “also the first official release of the entire catalog of Fela’s 1960 highlife band Koola Lobitos.” Now that’s hot!
“THE BEST OF THE BLACK PRESIDENT” & “FELA!” THE HIT MUSICAL ON BROADWAY
Here’s the deal. The first of the series, “The Best of the Black President,” a collection of 13 of the most popular Fela compositions, was released on October 27, 2009. The deluxe edition of the CD came with a DVD that included segments from the film “Music is the Weapon,” performances of Fela and his band performing at the Berlin Jazz Festival and “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense” from the Glastonbury Festival. In addition, there are also interviews with Carlos Moore, Fela’s biographer, and with Bill T. Jones, the director and choreographer of the dazzling Broadway musical, “FELA!”
The Knitting Factory Records’ “Chop ‘N’ Quench” set of Fela re-issues
Our centerpiece is the newly released “Chop ‘n’ Quench” set of Fela re-issues, comprised of six CDs that contain a total of nine albums that embody the earliest period (1969 to 1974) of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s Afrobeat music. This second compilation of the Fela reissue series by Knitting Factory Records, like the first, has been re-mastered and re-released in digi-packs with the original artwork. Every song on the albums is a must-have.
So here is what the “Africa Sings!!!” Group decided to do. Both our music critic and musician Stan “Sizza” Ryan and African musicologist and record producer Lubangi felt that because of the volume of Fela’s work, we should not try to chop up this significant oeuvre by attempting to review all of the CDs because we simply did not have the editorial space to do so. Therefore, they suggested that we list the albums and songs in chronological order of their release, thereby providing a timeline for now. Then, at various periods over the spring and summer, we could take one album and break it down.
This approach, we felt, would help many of our readers who are familiar with some of the songs to at least know what selections are on each CD. With this information, they would then be able to make some kind of decision as to which CD they may wish to purchase. For those who are unfamiliar with Fela’s music, the attention-grabbing artwork will be the inspiration to take the first step of visiting the Knitting Factory Record website (www.knittingfactoryrecords.com/artists/fela-ku) to sample the music. And, of course, there’s the option of getting a sumptuous taste of Fela’s music at “FELA!” on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre (www.FelaOnBroadway.com).
Now for a brief description of each of the CDs:
On “Koola Lobitos,” with its dreamlike autumnal colored cover, the CD embraces the period from 1964-1968. The eclectic tracks on this CD are “Highlife Time,” “Omuti Tide,” “Ololufe Mi,” Wadele Wa Rohin,” “Laise Lairo” and “Wayo.”
This CD continues with adventurous tracks from “The ’69 Los Angeles Sessions” album that include: “My Lady Frustration,” “Viva Nigeria,” “Obe,” “Ako,” “Witchcraft,” “Wayo,” “Lover,” “Funky Horn,” “Eko” and “This is Sad.” Fela is backed by his band Nigeria ’70 on this CD.
“Open & Close” (1971) features the title track as well as the passionate offerings “Swegbe and Pako” and “Gbagada Gbagda.” On the same CD is music from the album “Afrodisiac” (1972-1973), featuring the tracks “Alu Jon Jonki Jon,” “Jeun Ko Ku” (“Chop ‘n’ Quench”), “Eko” and “Je’Nwi Temi” (“Don’t Gag Me”). The Africa ’70 Band accompanies Fela on both these CDs.
“Shakara” (1971) features the satirical songs “Lady” and the title track, along with tunes from “The London Scene” (1972) album, featuring “J’Ehin J’Ehin” (“Chop Teeth Chop Teeth”), “Egbe Mi O” (“Carry Me”) “Who’re You,” “Buy Africa” and “Fight to Finish.” The Africa ’70 band accompanies Fela on these CDs, and as usual, Tony Allen the drummer is amazing.
The dramatic “Roforofo Fight” (1972) features the riveting title track, “Roforofo Fight,” “Go Slow,” “Question Jam Answer” and the beautiful “Trouble Sleep Yanga Wake Am.” On the same CD is music from “The Fela Singles” album, “Shenshema,” and “Ariya.”
“Gentleman” (1973) contains the masterpiece title track, as well as “Fefe Maa Efe” and “Igbe,” along with the CD “Confusion,” (1974) heralded for its legendary 25-minute, 36- second hit title track. This CD, along with its immortal artwork, as well as “Roforofo Fight,” are favorites of the “Africa Sings!!!” Group.
All the CDs include song synopses written by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu, author of the book, “Fela: Why Blackman Carry Shit” (Paris, France, 2000). The Knitting Factory Records CD covers also depict the original, innovative artwork from the albums, including the work of: Babatunde Okanlawon Banjoko, Ajoa Bello, Frances Kuboye, Tunde Kuboye, Ghariokwu Lemi, Boniface Okafor, Remi Olowookere, Maxoh-Max-Alex, Tunde Orimogunje and Femi Bankole Osunla.
MOVE WITH THE MAGIC & THE CULTURE OF “FELA!” ON BROADWAY THIS SPRING
Make it “FELA!” on Broadway for spring! Trust me, “FELA!” is a magnificent, daring, impressive, elaborately fierce production that has reinvented the American musical. “FELA!” is glorious. Please check out my review on the “FELA!” website (http://felaonbroadway.com/kca.php) and get a discount on your ticket purchase. Also please be sure to tell EVERYBODY about the great savings. Hey beautiful people, spring is here and Fela’s music is in the air. “Yeh-yeh.” So make it “FELA!” on Broadway! Yeah!
To contact the “Africa Sings!!!” Group, please e-mail email@example.com.