Water Get No Enemy (Fela Kuti)

We’ve never really spent long enough trying to decode Fela’s pidgin English to know what it’s supposed to be about, but Water Get No Enemy is joyous, gloriously peaking when voices scat in unison with the Afrika 70’s surging horn section.

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Coffin For The Head Of State (Fela Kuti)

In February 1978, a small polygamists’ commune-cum-recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria, was attacked then burnt to the ground by a thousand soldiers loyal to President General Olusegun Obasanjo. During the assault, troops threw a 77 year-old woman out of a second floor window, and after eight weeks in a coma she unsurprisingly succumbed to her injuries. She was Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, venerable women’s’ rights campaigner and the first Nigerian woman to legally drive a car. She was also the mother of the owner and founder of the compound, musician, composer, Afrobeat trail-blazer, and outrageously individual political dissident Fela Kuti. Continue reading “Coffin For The Head Of State (Fela Kuti)”

The Great Curve (Talking Heads, live in Rome)

Surely one of the most blood-pumping gigs ever caught on film, the Talking Heads’ stop off in Rome on their Remain In Light tour has been grainily immortalised and mounted on YouTube for all to jiggle to. For the Bemolution’s money, the band’s later, smaller Stop Making Sense-era incarnation was sterile and artily contrived compared to this earlier, Fela Kuti-inspired nine-piece. Borne aloft by a propulsive, hypnotic Afrobeat throb, courtesy of an awesomely muscular rhythm section and the bounding enthusiasm of everyone involved, the results are mesmeric, transporting, and, above all, irresistibly funky An extra visceral punch comes from Adrian Belew, fresh from spells with Zappa, Bowie and then King Crimson-bound, whose hair-raising guitar experimentalism sounds as cutting-edge today as it presumably did thirty-four years ago.

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