Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fela Kuti • Fela and His Africa 70 (10" EP)

Another Record Store Day gem, which I didn't buy on that fabled (last month) date but just found the other day. My friend Gary brought over his copy of Fela Kuti's EP on Knitting Factory, Fela and His Africa 70, a few weeks ago and I really dug the West African pop-meets-jazz 'n' soul vibe. I'm not sure about the origins of these tracks, and the label's website has scant info on them, so all I can say is the tracks on this 140-gram, 10-inch record sound like they're from the '70s, with a very soulful vibe and some great grooves.

You know, just trying to describe this music makes me feel very, ummmm, white. Like when I wear this really cool King Tubby t-shirt I have, I feel conspicuously visible. Or when you see a drunken frat boy wearing his Bob Marley shirt at a club and you think, "You probably don't know any other reggae artists, you frickin' moron!", that's what it's like. I guess you just have to sample the music for yourself and see if it moves ya. I like the groove of "My Lady Frustration," with its cool bass line and horn riffs. Fela sounds frustrated, kinda, but his band doesn't let him get mired in it at all. If James Brown was Nigerian and could just slow down a bit, that's kinda what you have here. If you know the song "Soul Makossa" by Manu Dibango, it's a lot like that but less poppy. It's got a real sweet trumpet solo too. Definitely a jazz record, though, so if you're against jazz (c'mon, man, just try it, you might like it!) then you'll want to pass. But I think this 10" record's a winner.
4/5 (Knitting Factory)

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