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Fela Kuti Zombie

(Vinyl LP)

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Item: LDK06118

Fela Kuti's rich discography stretches from the mid 1960s with Fela Ransome Kuti & His Highlife Rakers, to the early 1990s with Egypt 80, and there are masterpieces all along the way. But the 1970s, with Africa 70 and then Afrika 70, was the decade during which Fela's Afrobeat went through its most dramatic changes – musically and politically. It begins with 1971's Shakara and ends with 1980's I.T.T. (International Thief Thief). It also includes London Scene (1972), Afrodisiac and Gentleman (both 1973) and Upside Down (1976). The penultimate selection is 1976's Zombie, which was a huge hit in Nigeria.

On the title track of 1976's Zombie, Fela and the backup singers ridicule the mindset of men in uniform over an urgent, quick-march accompaniment from Afrika 70. "Attention! Quick march! Slow march! Salute!" sings Fela, "Fall in! Fall out! Fall down! Go and kill! Go and die! Go and quench!" Each phrase is followed by the women singers' taunting response, "Zombie!"

Fela paid a big price for this bold condemnation of the military institution. One thousand members of the Nigerian army attacked and burnt down his house after the release of the record. The tribunal set up to investigate the cause of the attack as a result of the public out-cry against the army, heard, as part of the evidence presented, an example of the Zombie album cover with the military uniform and boots displayed boldly. The army justification of the attack was that Fela treated the military institution with levity.



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