Fela Kuti Vinyl Box Set 3 Compiled By Brian Eno on Limited Edition 180g 7LP Box Set
Knitting Factory Records is proud to release the third of the long-awaited vinyl reissues from the Fela Kuti catalog. These seven albums - London Scene (1971), Shakara (1972), Gentleman (1973), Afrodisiac (1973), Zombie (1976), Upside Down (1976) and I.T.T. (1980) - were chosen by long-time admirer, Brian Eno. In addition to the seven 180g LPs, the box set also includes a 12″ x 12″ 12-page book that includes a forward from Eno, album notes from Chris May, translated lyrics, photos from Bernard Matussiere and 16.5″ x 22.5″ poster.
Fela’s 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.
Says Box set curator, Brian Eno, “Before about mid-September 1973 I didn’t have much interest in polyrhythmic music. I didn’t really get it. That all changed one Autumn day when I walked into Stern’s Record Shop off Tottenham Court Road. For reasons I’ve long forgotten, I left the store with an album that was to change my life dramatically. It was Afrodisiac by Fela Ransome-Kuti (as he was then known) and his band The Africa 70."
He adds, "I remember the first time I listened and how dazzled I was by the groove and the rhythmic complexity, and by the raw, harsh sounds of the brass, like Mack trucks hurtling across highways with their horns blaring. Everything I thought I knew about music at that point was up in the air again. The sheer force and drive of this wild Nigerian stuff blew my mind. My friend Robert Wyatt called it ‘Jazz from another planet’ – and suddenly I thought I understood the point of jazz, until then an almost alien music to me.”
Eno’s selection presents four from this period – Shakara, London Scene (1972), and Afrodisiac and Gentleman (both 1973). On these albums, Fela began to compile Afrobeat’s various signature characteristics – its rhythm patterns, interlocking twin guitars (rhythm and tenor), call and response vocals, use of Broken English rather than Yoruba, style of horn arrangements, and political message. Upside Down, one of Eno's other selections, features Sandra Izadore on vocals. It was recorded in 1976 during one of several trips she made to Nigeria.
The penultimate album in Eno’s selection is late 1976’s Zombie, a vicious skewering of the Nigerian military and Fela's biggest hit record to date. No coincidence then, that on February 18, 1977 over a thousand soldiers attacked and destroyed his self-declared independent republic of Kalakuta – a live/work compound which included housing for the Afrika 70 family.
1980’s I.T.T. is among the first clutch of discs Fela recorded following the break-up of Afrika 70 in late 1978/early 1979 and the formation of his new band, Egypt 80. I.T.T. is one of several albums Fela recorded around this time which featured only one song – an extended instrumental on side one, and a long-form lyric on side two. The format is a little closer to the way Fela performed live than it is on an album made up of several shorter tracks.
• 180g 7LP-set curated by Brian Eno
• Limited edition of 2000 copies
• Incudes: London Scene (1971), Shakara (1972), Gentleman (1973), Afrodisiac (1973), Zombie (1976), Upside Down (1976) ad I.T.T. (1980)
• Artwork for each album meticulously recreated from original artwork
• 12″ x 12″ 12-page book with forward from Eno, album notes from Chris May, translated lyrics & photos from Bernard Matussiere
• 16.5″ x 22.5″ poster