I plan to share some African music NOT from Nigeria in the next week or so, but until then a Fela album wouldn’t hurt. There’s nothing rare or arcane about the man’s music at this point of the digital age. Nowadays you can find his work everywhere. But there was a time when — where I was living, at least – Fela’s albums were quite rare. I remember being in high-school and having a cassette tape of his stuff that was a treasured possession, given to me by a bass player for a reggae-funk band I had befriended as a young lad. I played the shit out of that tape until the magnesium oxide was shedding onto your finger tips just handling the thing. For over ten years it was the only Fela I possessed in my music collection, a random 90-minute mixtape of his stuff. These days, there is a band in Rio de Janeiro devoted solely to playing his music, and bands in the US from New York to Ann Arbor that are just shamelessly ripping him off. Always go back to the original, though, and you will see why he was an international iconoclastic heavyweight the likes of which are rarely seen, and can’t be imitated.
Post-colonial marxist rhythm and blues lead off Fela & Afrika 70’s ‘Opposite People’, the title track a fast, frantic afrosoul workout in composite time. Fela has an extended sax solo on this one and doesn’t begin singing until eleven minutes in. A slower beat but an identical structure characterize the class-consciousness metaphor-making of ‘Equalization of Trouser and Pant’. This is a fine enough album but reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend about how you can substitute a handful of these Afrika 70 titles from the early to mid-70s pretty much interchangeably. You have one, you kind of have them all, although I prefer to have them all. An opinion like this is bound to induce flames in the comments section, but I assure you I mean no ill will towards Fela. Unlike Caetano Veloso, who is still a douche.
The real item of interest on this Sony 2-on-1 disc is the album “Sorrow, Tears & Blood”. Released as the first title on Fela’s own Kalakuta Records after being dropped by Decca in the wake of the government’s raid on his compound and confiscation of his master tapes (which he managed to get back, thankfully), it shows Fela and Afrika 70 shifting gears ever so slightly to a more foreboding, loping groove. It’s short EP-length keeps it powerful enough to lodge in your memory. The second side, ‘Colonial Mentality’, is a monster, and something of an anthem toward the continual unfolding process of decolonizing the mind, body, and spirit. Some of Tony Allen’s most innovative playing can be heard in the low-burning, restrained bedrock he sets down, creating a tension that you keep expecting him to release with some more ebullient, open playing but which he never quite does aside from laying on the ride cymbals for a few measures here and there. Groove and lyrical intention in sync here.
Opposite People (1977)
1. Opposite People (16:37)
2. Equalisation of Trouser and Pant (16:43)
Sorrow Tears and Blood (1977)
3. Sorrow Tears and Blood (10:16)
3. Colonial Mentality (13:42)
Contains complete artwork, cue, log, m3u files
Fela & Afrika 70 – Opposite People / Sorrow, Tears & Blood (1977) in 320kbs em pee tree
Sorry for having to go back to zshare again for a while, folks, but there’s nothing I can do about it at the moment. There is a proverb in English about beggars and choosers, pays to recall it…
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