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
We recently shared some Fela vinyl with Mishka’s designer Lamour Supreme who took the Fela spirit to a new place with an inspired Zombie / МИШКА design. Known for it’s Brooklyn roots МИШКА has been a streetwear fixture since 2003. Founded by Mikhail Bortnik and Greg Rivera, МИШКА began as a company that made cool t-shirts. It has since grown into a lifestyle brand that has created its own culture. МИШКА traces its roots back to New York City’s “fertile crescent” of Hip-Hop, Street-art and Punk. МИШКА has grown into an internationally renowned brand with a presence in four continents. Its rebellious and individualistic nature has appealed to people of various cultures, and it continues to find homes in new and exciting regions.
МИШКА’s universe is open and inclusive. МИШКА celebrates the strangeness of the world and bucks the exclusionary measures that have plagued anything labeled as “cool.” Anybody who has a passion for the unusual, divergent and strange can find a connection to МИШКА and its culture. For these reasons we found the partnership with МИШКА irresistible!
Proud to be a part of the МИШКА universe – Zombie lives again!
Zombie no go go, unless you tell am to go (Zombie)
Zombie no go stop, unless you tell am to stop (Zombie)
Zombie no go turn, unless you tell am to turn (Zombie)
Zombie no go think, unless you tell am to think (Zombie)
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).”