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.
Fela's London Scene, released in 1972, is a top-notch affair, made with a smaller band but one that punches above its weight. There is no tenor guitarist and no call-and-response choir, though sing-along vocals are a feature of "Egbe Mi O" ("please carry me"). Throughout, Fela's electric piano is gymripped and razor sharp, and Igo Chico turns in three stirring tenor solos. "Buy Africa," written in 1970, was one of Fela's first politically-informed songs. The lyric was written in support of a government campaign to encourage local industry.
"J'Ehin J'Ehin" ("eat teeth eat teeth") is along similar lyric lines as "Shakara." This time Fela is lampooning people who are so greedy that they eat their own teeth. In "Who're You," Fela channels James Brown's vocal style over an angular funk groove. "Fight To Finish" draws on Yoruba folklore to offer advice: once you have started something, be prepared to finish it.