Seven individual vinyl reissues from the Brian Eno-curated Fela Kuti Box Set (#3) will be released on October 14th, with preorder starting today!
Eno’s album selections span the ten years in which Fela’s afrobeat progressed from its formative stage to a rich maturation of the form. It begins with 1971’s Shakara and ends with 1980’s I.T.T.(International Thief Thief). It also includes London Scene (1972), Afrodisiac, Gentleman (both 1973) and Upside Down (1976). The ultimate selection is 1976’s Zombie, which was a huge hit in Nigeria.
Fela Kuti & His Koola Lobitos – Highlife-Jazz and Afro-Soul (1963 – 1969) – OUT NOW
The release of this collection of Fela Ransome-Kuti’s pre-Afrobeat music is a major event for fans of both Fela’s music and African popular music in general. Many of these recordings were thought to be lost forever. What little has been known of Fela’s highlife period has been largely due to the efforts of Mr. Benson Idonije, Fela’s early manager and long-time proponent of his highlife music. With the recordings’ sound quality now much improved, this comprehensive collection gives an overview into a period when one of Africa’s finest musicians was attempting to find a style of his own. Thanks to the efforts of the dedicated record collectors who assembled this triple-disc compilation, a crucial and fascinating chapter of Fela’s career is finally available to African music enthusiasts around the world.
When Fela Ransome-Kuti returned to Nigeria in 1963 after four years at London’s Trinity College of Music, he had dreams of becoming a successful modern jazz musician in the tradition established by Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and others. Fela’s first documented recordings were with the Fela Ransome-Kuti Quintet, which included Fela on trumpet, Don Amaechi on guitar, Sid Moss on piano, Emmanual Ngomalio on bass, and John Bull on drums. That band is represented on two selections here: “Great Kids” & “Amaechi’s Blues”
On this compilation, we hear Fela and the band working through a fairly traditional highlife model on tracks such as “Bonfo” and “Fere,” which stick close to the traditional sound of dance-band highlife. There are strongly Cuban-inflected tracks such as “Ajo,” and the transplanted soul stylings of “Wa Dele.” We also get to hear some music that is essentially Afrobeat in style, despite the fact that Fela hadn’t coined the term at this point.
– Michael E. Veal, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at Yale University
3. Onifere No. 2
7. Great Kids
8. Amaechi’s Blues
13. V.C. 7
14. I Know Your Feeling
1. Signature Tune
2. It’s Highlife Time
3. Lagos Baby
6. Araba’s Delight
7. Wa Dele
8. Lai Se
9. Mi O Mo
10. Obinrin Le
11. Omo Ejo
1. Everyday I Got My Blues (Live)
2. Moti Gbrokan (Live)
3. Waka Waka (Live)
4. Ako (Live)
5. Ororuka (Live)
6. Lai Se (Live)
11. Se E Tun De
12. Waka Waka
13. My Baby Don Love Me
14. Home Cooking
To celebrate the re-issue of the six Fela Kuti vinyl records available on October 16th, Fela.net is partnering with ebay to auction one of each of the test pressings with all proceeds going to the Fela! Non Profit Inc. The Fela! Non Profit Inc. is a New York nonprofit dedicated to utilizing the inherent messages contained within the music and philosophy of Nigerian musician, composer and social activist, Fela Anikulapo Kuti (born October 15, 1938 died August 2, 1997) to implement a program of public education around the issues of social justice and human dignity.
Fans will have the opportunity to bid on these one of a kind unique pieces of vinyl, with just twelve of each title in existence. These test pressings are the very first created in the factory and serve as literal test to check a record’s final sound.
The Quietus, an online magazine covering music, film, books, art, TV and popular/unpopular culture, talks about the 2015 London Felabration along with the reissue of six of the finest Fela Kuti albums.
“Fela Anikulapo Kuti would have been 77 on Thursday (October 15) and in addition to the album reissues, a celebratory tribute concert is set to take place in London on Friday (October 16), at the British Library. The lineup features former Egypt ‘80 keyboard player Dele Sosimi and his 16-piece Afrobeat Orchestra, plus long-time Fela drummer Tony Allen who was a member of Fela’s early highlife-jazz group Koola Lobitos and Africa ‘70 throughout the late 1960s and 70s. Over the evening they will be joined onstage by a huge guest list of artists inspired by Fela’s work, including 2face Idibia, Laura Mvula, Shingai Shoniwa, Afrikan Boy, Terri Walker and many more.
Dele Sosimi said: “To celebrate Fela is more than an honour – it’s my duty. Fela is the reason Afrobeat music is what it is, and he is the reason Afrobeat music is in my DNA, coursing through the essence of my being and coming out in the various formats in which I perform, to a devout worldwide audience of Afrobeat enthusiasts who will take advantage of every opportunity to savour and appreciate, and gyrate to, this unique genre. The legacy of Fela will live on and pass on from us onto the next generation ad infinitum! Long live Fela! Long live Afrobeat!”
The latest batch of records from the Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer to be repressed includes five key albums from Fela’s prolific mid-70’s period with his Africa ’70 group: Roforofo Fight (1972), Alagbon Close (1974), Everything Scatter (1975), Na Poi (1976) and Fear Not For Man (1977); along with 1989’s Beasts Of No Nation with the Egypt ’80 line-up. All records appear housed in artist Lemi Ghariokwu’s iconic sleeves and come with a download and liner notes by Afrobeat historian Chris May. The records showcase a key period in Fela’s development of Afrobeat as a form of music and the political philosophy of the lyrics and were originally released on Nigerian labels. The albums will be available on vinyl from this Friday (October 16).”
Fela Kuti lives on through his music and his larger than life legacy. We will be posting photos of Fela Kuti’s massive back catalog in the order we released them. Kicking things off with “The Best of Black President” which includes the DVD ‘A Slice of Fela.’
Watch the full Red Hot + FELA Live! At Lincoln Center performance HERE
Featuring: Sahr Ngaujah(star of FELA! On Broadway), Tony Allen, Baloji,Sinkane, Angelique Kidjo, Dead Prez‘s M1, SBajah (of Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew), Rubblebucket’s Alex Toth, Superhuman Happiness — which unites members of Antibalas, tUnE-yArDs, and Iron + Wine.