soundtrack: Finding Fela (Knitting Factory Records, 2014)

August 9, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

soundtrack: Finding Fela

soundtrack: Finding Fela

Soundtrack to a new documentary about Fela Kuti. Almost all of the tracks are original Fela recordings, but there’s a couple tracks from the cast of the Fela musical, and the last track is a new recording featuring Fela’s son Femi. Not much new to say about Fela’s music, it’s as powerful and revolutionary and awesome as ever. If you’re not familiar with him yet, this is yet another decent sampling of his work, with 1 track by his early highlife group Koola Lobitos, and the bulk of the material coming from his ’70s ensembles, and a couple from Egypt 80. Even though half the tracks here are edited for time constraints, there’s still 6 tracks on here that pass the 10 minute mark (and even most of them are actually edited versions). The first disc shows off Fela’s diversity, not just focusing on the usual call-and-response Afrobeat sound, but the jazzy instrumental “Jeun Ko Ku (Chop ‘N Quench)”, the almost calypso-sounding Koola Lobitos track “Highlife Time”, slow jam “Lover”, and spoken word peace treaty “Viva Nigeria”. “Upside Down”, included here in a 6 minute edit, features vocals by former Black Panther party member Sandra Izsadore, who was one of Fela’s many lovers and helped open his eyes towards black consciousness. The last 3 tracks on disc 1 are all from live performances and contain applause, showing the energy of Fela’s live performances. I wish they’d included an original version of “Zombie” instead of the version by the Fela musical band, which is only 4 minutes long here, but the original’s been anthologized before. Now when’s the documentary playing in Detroit?

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