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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fela Kuti

After the success of Bob Marley, Island Records went looking for the next great import. They settled their sights on the not so settled, radical superhuman named Fela Kuti. The word maverick is in the first sentence of his wikipedia page, which doesn't even do him justice because there isn't a picture.

His funeral was the largest public congregation in Nigeria. Ever. He spent his life in and out of jail, openly fighting the corruption of the Nigerian military government. He married 27 women on the same day. He makes his rock and roll contemporaries look like the Brady Bunch. But most important to this particular discussion, his music kills.

He wails on the sax and sings and plays all kinds of traditional instruments. Funky Afro-beat guitar shreds through like a drum riff. I'm posting the A-side of his 1975 album, Expensive Shit.

Of course, it was the Professor who turned us on to him. He wrote a book on Fela, which is really more of a journal he wrote over a couple months while staying with the musician. He went over to Nigeria to film a movie and jam with Fela, but the government raided while he was there and took his passport. Issued beatings. 

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