Aug 26, 2011

Ebo Taylor Jnr. & Wuta Wazuri - Gotta Take It Cool (Download)

Every year the Soulstrut online community holds a Record Day where members rip some of their favorite records and share them with the rest of the board. While there are really no rules to what people can share, emphasis is usually placed on previously unavailable, rare or obscure records, or things that you think other board members might like but not necessarily know about. In keeping with this tradition, I decided to share three extremely rare African records that I managed to get my hands on in 2010. Some seriously great music here that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. Hope you enjoy it!

Son of the legendary Ghanaian musician, composer, producer and arranger Ebo Taylor, this album contains “Mondo Soul Funky” which was comped on Ghana Soundz 2 put out by Soundway Records. There is another funky cut called “Swinging Soul For Love” which hasn’t been comped yet. The rest of the album is a mixture of traditional highlife and reggae.

Ebo Taylor is many Afrobeat friends certainly a household name. The Ghanaian side was Fela Kuti, one of the pioneers of this music and is still active. His son, Ebo Taylor Jr. suggested already in the mid-70s and published a similar way with an album on Polydor with Wuta Wazutu. This from funk and reggae influenced LP is very difficult to raise and traded for about $ 1,000. Today Ebo Taylor Jr. plays keyboards in his father's band and toured with him across the world.

German page

Unfortunately, not any more information could be found.


01. lord we've missed you
02. systems to love
03. begging on knees
04. you've got yours greedy man
05. gotta take it cool
06. mondo soul funky
07. swinging soul for love
08. every woman needs a helper
09. love is what i need

Aug 23, 2011

The Budos Band: An interview from January 2011


The Budos Band come from Staten Island but seem like they climbed out of a colossal pile of Ethiopiques comps after strength training from Fela Kuti and inspirational interludes with Dennis Coffey. Their newest album is out now on Daptone and they discuss now their own plans for an impregnable Budos compound. This interview by Jonny Bell of Crystal Antlers.

The interview

Your drummer said that he gives Budos Band songs working titles off the top of his head, and that they usually come from Dungeons & Dragons or HP Lovecraft. Are there any other fantasy role-playing card games that influence you?

I don’t know, he’d be much more qualified to answer that question. He’s really the man of that world in the group—I’m not sure what else could even be out there. We certainly appreciate the titles that he comes up with so we let him run with it, and then take it to Daptone and see what they say about it which is usually something like, ‘change the title.’

When I first heard your music I was convinced it was recorded in 1968. How do you do that? A friend of mine who listens to a lot of old music loaned me a burned CD with no info, and I was just totally convinced it was an old funk group.

Yeah, it’s the recording techniques. We use an all-analog studio. We use tape—we don’t do anything in computers. We really try to use the techniques that made those old records sound great—you know the horns, shared microphones, and it’s all recorded live, so there’s a real nice natural bleed between the instruments. No crazy overdubs—it’s a real live feeling recording, and to boot it’s all analog tape with that warm sound that old analog records have.

Your music reminds me of the music from Blaxploitation films. Do you have any personal favorites? Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song/Darktown Strutters/The Final Comedown?

You know we get that a lot and it’s funny, I don’t really think that’s a big reference point for us. It just kind of ends up going that way for whatever reason. Black Caesar is a classic and obviously the soundtrack is killer—that’s the one that springs to mind as a favorite. We don’t go in with that outlook, but it ends up taking that form on some occasion.

Where does the name ‘Budos’ come from? I googled it and the only thing that comes up is a commune in southwestern France.

There’s actually a town of Budos, France that we drove through while we were on tour over there, and there’s a Budos Castle, Château De Budos. Actually, the negative release of that is on the backside of the Budos III album artwork.

Oh right—I saw one of the press release pictures had a picture of you guys in front of a castle.

Yeah that’s the Budos Castle. Our French tour manager knew about this ahead of time and told us we were taking a ‘very special trip’ one morning, and he wouldn’t tell us where we were going. He said there’d be naked women hanging from the trees on the side of the road, which got us excited, but it ended up just being a random town on the side of the road in southwestern France called Budos. Anyway, tangents aside, ‘Budos’ actually comes from a name that we used when we first started the band ‘Los Barbudos,’ which means ‘The Bearded Ones’ in Spanish. It sort of loosely referenced Fidel Castro’s revolutionary posse/baseball team, and that’s what we rolled with for a minute. Then it took on political connotations that we either just didn’t feel comfortable with or want to make part of our ‘thing.’ We’re not really communist revolutionaries you know—just a bunch of guys playing music from Staten Island playing music. We decided to just shorten the name and make it ‘Budos,’ which doesn’t really have any real meaning other than what it originally derived as, and coincidentally a town in south western France, and apparently a commune as well…

You guys are part of Daptone Records. Most of the Daptone stuff seems to be heavily influenced by the music of the 1960s. Do you ever feel like you’re revivalists?

It’s an influence of ours, but we’re just making the kind of music that we like and sounds good to us. For Budos, we’re trying to jump a decade or two, and get into more 70s-influenced stuff right now, and make it our own.

I think you stand out from other groups on the label because of that and it seems like you’ve explored some new territory since the beginning of the band. I’m a fan of Sun Ra, and it doesn’t seem like too big of leap from what you guys do. You’ve got the right instruments—do you think you’ll ever venture in to Sun Ra territory?

I hear that totally, and I think some of it can translate, but I think his stuff is a little too in outer space for us. We’re not trying to go into the jazz realm much at this point, as much as rock. We used to do a cover by this band Cairo Jazz Band that sounded more like some east African funk that went more in the Sun Ra direction, so I can hear that similarity. But we’re not blasting off to outer space anytime soon.

Cairo Jazz band, didn’t Soul Jazz re-issue that record? I feel like I have that record somewhere…

Yeah it’s definitely possible.

Speaking of labels, there’s a lot of really great re-issue labels out there right now like Numero Group, Soul Jazz, and Now Again. Do you have any favorite labels, reissue or otherwise?

Classics like Motown, Chess, Stax—all that stuff. What’s that new label that in the past year put out a bunch of Nigerian psych rock? Oh, Soundway.

Are there any other old gems you could turn me on to?

Are you familiar with this old orchestral group called Orchestre Poly-rythmo? I think they’re from Benin, which is next door to Nigeria. They’re pretty smokin’ stuff. And one of our biggest influences that kind of come through on our second album was ‘Ethiopiques’—that whole compilation series of Ethiopian jazz. It was put out by a French label called called Buda Musique. And there’s like 25 volumes or so out now.

You guys originally started off as a straight afro-beat group?

When we were Los Barbudos, it was mostly straightforward Afro beat.

So you must be big fans of Fela Kuti. Have you seen the Broadway musical Fela?

Yeah definitely—we know the guys that play in the band. It’s kinda funny that they made a Broadway musical out of it. It’s one of those things that on one hand is cool and on the other doesn’t necessarily make sense. At the end of the day I think it’s a good thing, but it’s definitely at first glace a little bit of a head scratcher.

Have you ever considered running for political office or starting a polygamist colony like Fela?

No, but not necessarily opposed to the later. It would be cool to set up our own state within New York City, where all we did was smoke pot, write music and have sex with a lot of women, but I don’t know if that will ever happen, and I don’t know if that should be printed or not, some of us have girlfriends and they might not appreciate it!

Fela was influenced politically by the Black Panther party in the US, and I always stare at an Emory Douglas poster on my wall when I listen to your band. Do you feel like your music carries any of the political spirit from early afro-beat?

Yeah—Antibalas, for example. They’re good friends of ours and definitely influenced us early on. I feel like they have a pretty explicit political message, and I think we don’t have as much of one partially because we don’t have lyrics and it’s hard to convey a political message without lyrics there to do it. We’ve done an Obama event and a couple of other political things, but we don’t consider ourselves to be on the front lines of any political music movement.

What was it like to play the Getty?

It was cool. I’d never been there before, and it was quite a structure to take in while playing. It was pretty sweet there up in the hills overlooking the city. We had a great time and it was actually our first time playing in LA. And Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, our label mates, were playing the Hollywood Bowl that same weekend so it was kind of a big label thing and it was awesome.

I was reading that J. Paul Getty’s grandson was kidnapped in Italy in the early 70s, and held for a $17 million ransom. Long story short, Getty refused to pay until they started mailing body parts and ultimately negotiated them down to $2 million. Have you ever played anywhere run by someone as blood thirsty as J. Paul Getty?

No. Wow, that’s pretty crazy.

How would the Budos Band negotiate with kidnappers?

I think we’re big enough that hopefully we could take down the kidnappers ourselves.

This interview by Jonny Bell of Crystal Antlers.

Aug 21, 2011

©© Les Frères Smith - Contreband Mentality

Press Release

©© les Freres Smith - the Smiths brothers - is a Paris based 14 piece collective specialized in afrobeat and ethio flavoured grooves. These music smugglers have been touring the French and European scenes for more than 10 years, always with the same blasting energy. Well known for its explosive live interventions, the band is now releasing its first real album after various collaborations with artists such as Tony Allen, Kutiman, Franck Biyong, or Kokolo, among others.

Already accounting as a reference on the Parisian live scene and after a first 7" single on Melting Pot Music, the crew is now releasing its very first album!! 11 crazy afro joints mashed up with as many influences as there are family members in this band, and gathering the cream of the Parisian afrobeat family. Produced by les Freres Smith themselves with support and precious help by mythical afrobeat label Comet Records led by Eric Trosset, featuring the great Tony Allen and the crazy guitarist minister Oghene Kologbo from Fela's Africa 70, the album was mixed and mastered by experienced producer Grant Phabao (T.I.M.E.C.), with the help of afrobeat specialist Loik Dury (Kraked Records) who mixed one of the album's tracks.

Released straight up as a collector gatefold double LP, hurry on to put your hands on this already rare groove gem! Artworked by promising street artist Grems, this album gives new directions to afrobeat, emancipating itself from Fela's music despite paying great respect to the genre. Contrabanda! A family recipe, distilled slowly but surely with strong human values; grooves without any concession, afrobeat without any boundaries, intense and deep soul, music and good vibes as only weapons!

The band foamed the greatest afrobeat events all over Paris, backing genius Israeli artist Kutiman with Grant Phabao, getting invited on stages by artists such as Tony Allen, the Souljazz Orchestra, Kokolo, or Franck Biyong; organizing the now legendary session Afrobeat Family Affair (, featuring Franck Biyong, Toli Nameless, Maya Azucena, Cheick Tidiane Seck, Taylor McFerrin, FireTongue, the Afrorockerz, Masta Conga, and many more…), and all over Europe (UK, Sweden, Benelux, Germany, Switzerland, etc…).

Be a Smith, be a smuggler, enjoy it now! At home or live & direct, come and taste the Smiths' unique recipe!


A1. AFRO! feat. Tony Allen
A2. Contreband Mentality
A3. Le Malnomme
B1. Sokosokool feat. Oghene Kologbo
B2. Doucement
C1. La Marche Des Smith
C2. Gondwana
C3. Zil Zil (Contaminacion)
D1. Family Affair
D2. Fire feat. Milo
D3. Stockholm Underground

Aug 18, 2011

Ebo Taylor - Conflict (download)

Recently I discovered the amazing page of Gold Mining in Ghana, diggin' records in Africa. As he offers some great tunes, I thought I have to share it with all of you as well, therefore, here we go with one of the most wanted record: Ebo Taylor - Conflict.

Here's the orginal story from "Gold Mining in Ghana":

It took me ten long months to track down one of Ghana’s premier producer/arrangers, Ebo Taylor. In the end it was all worth it, for in the process I not only found a heap of recordings but also gathered a more substantive perspective on his contribution to the music scene via interviews with some of his fellow musicians.

Now, with the help of the label Strut and Miles from Soundway, he’s gained global recognition and is experiencing a musical resurgence both in Ghana and abroad. When I caught up with him he was preparing to embark on his second European tour and was talking about performing in Brazil before the end of the year.

All of this attention is due to his magnificent album, Love and Death, released in 2010. The Album is in fact a partial remake of his 1980 album, Conflict, which includes the song “Love and Death” as well as a vocal version of “Victory.” The album is by far one of my favorites by Ebo Taylor, partly due to the monstrous apocalyptic jam, “Christ Will Come.”

For those who aren’t as familiar with Ebo’s career, I present a quick run down.

Ebo Taylor had a hand in a good portion of the afro-funk created in Ghana during the 70s. He worked alongside, or produced, some of the most prominent Ghanaian musicians including Gyedu-Blay Ambolley, C.K. Mann and Pat Thomas. He’s credited for producing C.K. Mann’s Funky Highlife LP, the Apagya Show Band and several solo LPs, all of which are sought after by collectors worldwide.

Ebo was born in Cape Coast, and completed most of his education, including college, in and around there. He got his first musical breaks playing with the Star Gazers and then the Broadway dance band in the early 60s. He eventually left Broadway and moved to the UK to study at the Eric Guilder School of Music. According to him, it’s his formal training that’s allowed his music to finally transcend internationally, albeit 30 years later.

EBO: “In his [Nkrumah’s] era, we were given grants to educate ourselves in a music school. There you find George Lee, Eddie Quansah, Oscarmore [Ofori], Teddy Osei, Sol Amarfio… all at Eric Guilder [School of Music]. The result is: they were able to come out with Osibisa. Since Osibisa, we hadn’t had any good group to tour internationally. I think that maybe I’m filling the vacuum and others will follow.”

While there, he met fellow West African, Fela Ransome Kuti. They played in a band together and, on several occasions, discussed their mutual dissatisfaction with Highlife music. When we spoke, Ebo proclaimed Highlife music has often sounded like an African version of the foxtrot or waltz, a lasting effect of colonial influence on African rhythms.

EBO: “We were, all the time, discussing ways to develop our African music to enable us to get global attention. The only way to do it was to get into funk or jazz… that’s what we were… we were, primarily, jazz musicians. In London, we use play jazz clubs. I used to jam with Fela. He used Jam with me at various jazz clubs… Any time we got together, the black musicians in London, we were thinking of home and how to develop our own things instead of playing jazz or instead of playing Highlife, which we thought was foxtrot or like quickstep.”

Upon his return, he joined the Uhuru dance band in the early 70s and began working with singer/composer Gyedu-Blay Ambolley. Ambolley himself recalls Ebo’s eagerness to step out of the fold early on:

GYEDU: “…around 74-75 we formed another band. - that was Apagya Show band - Ebo Taylor left Uhuru, I left Uhuru because we started experimenting. Doing our own styles of music… our own creative music… Because we knew what people wanted. Though it was our style, it still had some groovy beats. The music would motivate you.”

Along with Bob Pinodo, inventor of the Sonbote rhythm, they produced a series of singles for Essiebons, including “Ma Nserew Me,” “Mumunde,” “Kwaku Ananse,””Nsamanfo,” and “Tamfo Nyi Ekyir.” These singles have since been re-released on Soundway compilations Ghana Soundz 1 & 2 as well as on last year’s Afrobeat Airways, which was put out by Analog Africa.

Ebo would leave the band shortly after and begin working as a producer for various musicians. He worked with C.K. Mann for the Essiebons label, before eventually releasing his on solo LP, My Love and Music featuring Pat Thomas on vocals, for George Prah at Gapophone records. The opening track, “Odofo yi Akyiri Biara,” was also featured on the Afrobeat Airways compilation. The song opens with a full horn section intro before leading into some Fela-esque keyboard arrangements. From the start, it was a distinct departure from the traditional Highlife sound of the time. The track’s placement was seemingly calculated. Ebo saw no reason why funkier numbers should take a backseat to highlife songs, which was in stark contrast to the normal protocol of the time.

EBO: ”Most of the recording I did later were major, or highlife, on the A side… on the flipside I wrote funkier highlife. I think that was a step forward. The research didn’t prove that, but I thought that many progressive listeners bought this album because it had this kind of stuff on it…”

It seems that by the time Conflict was recorded, he had all but given up on trying to hide the funk in the mist of highlife tunes. Judge for yourself.


01. You Need Love
02. Love And Death
03. What Is Life?
04. Christ Will Come
05. Victory

Donkilo Afro Funk Orkestra


The small eastern state of New Hampshire: long ago part of the African continental plate before its gradual drift away from the mother land millions of years ago...and now, home to the Donkilo! Afro Funk Orkestra. Fusing elements of traditional Malinke music and rhythms, Fula flute, funk and jazz, Donkilo! Afro Funk Orkestra brings it back home.

“Donkilo” — literally “a call to dance” (don=dance, kili=call) — is a Mandinka word that refers to both music and song. Influenced by Malinke drumming traditions, Fulani flute music, Wassoulou popular music from Mali, and the Nigerian Afro Funk movement of the 70s, the Donkilo! Afro Funk Orkestra creates a unique sound that is both familiar and new, fresh yet honoring and drawing from ancient traditions.

Combining traditional Mande/African instruments like the Fula flute, the 10-string kamale ngoni, and djembe with electric bass, guitar, drums, and saxophone, Donkilo! Afro Funk Orkestra is your call to dance...


Check it out here:

Donkilo! Afro Funk Orkestra by dkobrenski



"The small eastern state of New Hampshire: long ago part of the African continental plate before its gradual drift away from the mother land millions of years ago...and now, home to the Donkilo! Afro Funk Orkestra," exclaims the newest band to play at the Lucky Dog Tavern & Grill next Fri. Feb. 25, at 10 p.m.

Donkilo! Afro Funk Orkestra hails from New Hampshire and features electric instruments such as the electric bass and grooving drums. Something unique about Donkilo! is that they use traditional Mande, or African instruments like the fula flute, djembe and the ten string kamale ngoni.

These unique instruments are generally not found in N.H., let alone the rest of the US. The fula flute originated in the Fouta Djalon highlands of Guinea. This flute is a little-known instrument outside West Africa "where it is revered for the profound effect it has on listeners, often bringing them to tears with its haunting sounds and melodies that reach deep inside one's soul," according to the band's wesbite. The fula is made from a vine, which features a rectangular mouth piece with two large wings on each side of it. There are three finger holes that produce a full diatonic scale of 1 1/2 octaves.

The djembe is a large, skin covered hand drum which is shaped like a large goblet. The drum's name, according to the people of Mali, literally translates to "everyone gather together." The purpose of the drum has always been fundamentally based around bringing different people together.

The ten string kamala ngoni or "young man's harp," was invented in the 1960s. Tuned a quarter higher than other instruments, the ngoni is made of calabash, a type of gourd, and has goat skin stretched over it. The instrument is used often in ceremonies and is used to play music really fast.

Donkilo!'s members include Jared Steer on drums, Dave Kobrenski on the fula flute, djembi and kamale ngoni, Mike Rossi on bass, Jim Dozet on guitar and featuring Nick Mainella and Matt Lanley on the tenor sax.

"Donkilo" literally means, "a call to dance", and that's exactly what this funk band plans to make you do. Donkilo! creates a unique and fresh sound that blends jazz, Wassolou music from Mali, Nigerian Afro Funk from the 70s and funk music, of course.

Aug 3, 2011

Ghana Rock History Is Unearthed After 40 Years

It's just eight songs long, less than 24 minutes of music. But midway through 'Psycho African Beat,' compiling the entire recorded output of Ghanaian band the Psychedelic Aliens, there's a very cool epiphany. And a snapshot of a moment in time when at least a certain part of popular music in this part of Africa experienced a seismic shift – a picture seen for the first time in decades thanks to a little musical archaeology to unearth it.

The first four tracks, made in 1970, are good garage-soul – fun stuff, lyrics mostly in English, beats and sounds distilled from Motown, Stax and James Brown along with British Invasion reinterpretations, all with chunky guitars and reedy Farfisa/Vox-style organ. But little really stands out from the crowd, and it seems a step or two behind, given the great number of bands all over the globe that had been doing similar things for several years at that point. By the time you get to the fourth track, 'Extraordinary Woman,' you've got a pretty good idea what you're getting.

But then Track Five starts – and it's a whole different thing. The intro tantalizes with its fuzzy guitar lines, a bit rougher and looser. Then that gives way to the song proper and, whoa! Percussive polyryhthms, guitar and organ lines bobbing and weaving, toying with each other and vocals with some real fire, not to mention lyrics entirely in local languages (though English became the official Ghanaian tongue). Even amid the rush of African funk, rock and soul that's been dug up and reissued in recent years, this stands out. The first impression is that if Santana had come from Accra, its music might sound like this. And the approach on that song, 'Gbe Keke Wo Taoc,' continues through the collection's final three numbers.

So what happened? Santana happened.

On March 6, 1971, Accra hosted a music festival billed as Soul to Soul, an ambitious and historic gathering of largely African-American artists on African soil: Wilson Pickett, a huge star in Ghana, topped the bill that also included Ike and Tina Turner, 'Compared to What' jazz team Les McCann and Eddie Harris, the Staple Singers ... and Santana, with a lineup sporting Latin jazz star Willie Bobo on percussion. And in a contingent of local acts playing the event: the Psychedelic Aliens. (The event, packaged by American promoters working with the Ghanaian government, was documented in a film, also titled 'Soul to Soul,' which was released on DVD in 2004, though the Aliens' performance was not included.)

The Aliens – the band's original name before they became the Magic Aliens and then the Psychedelic Aliens – had recently returned to Ghana after spending the better part of the last year on the road, mostly in Nigeria, honing their sound and lineup.

"When we started the group we were playing covers of the pop era," says Aliens guitarist Ricky Telfer, now 64, from his home in Newmarket, Ontario, outside of Toronto. "We had a French singer and another singer, Roberto, doing English songs. We were playing in nightclubs around Ghana."

Telfer, who moved to Canada more than 30 years ago, is a computer technician and installer who plays organ in his church, says that the group became popular enough to start to travel around the region, particularly a stint in Nigeria in 1969 and 1970, where they started to hear – and incorporate – more American soul, notably the Stax staples Booker T. and the MGs and the mind-opening innovations of Jimi Hendrix. The two lead singers didn't make that trip, though, so with a tight quintet of Telfer, rhythm guitarist Reyad Couri, keyboard player Malek Crayem, bassist Lash Laryea and drummer Smart Thompson, the sound got pared down to the soul essentials. And, crucially, the band started to write its own material rather than rely on the covers the singers favored. It was in Nigeria with that smaller lineup that the group recorded an EP, the first four songs on the new compilation.

"After our contract ended in Nigeria and we went back to Ghana we had this experience playing our own music," Telfer says. "Our audience just started growing bigger and bigger. We didn't have the two singers anymore. So we started writing our own songs. And we got to hear of Santana and some other groups."

Santana's use of Latin rhythms and structures to power a new rock hybrid inspired the Aliens to try the same approach but with their own roots.

"We started writing songs with the African beat. We had that influence. We wanted to do it in our own way with the African lyrics."

The idea was to take the rollicking Ghanaian highlife sound – the sound that coursed through every musician raised in the nation – and infuse it with the new ideas of rock and soul that were captivating their consciousness. It came naturally in the already polyglot world of Accra, an historic crossroads for African and colonial cultures, something mirrored in the very makeup of the band.

"We were all Ghanaian," he says. "But there was a Lebanese-Ghanaian, a French-Ghanaian, an Indian-Ghanaian. That's how we came up with the name the Aliens. And we looked foreign. I'm completely African – although I have distant relatives for several generations from Holland."

The new sounds made the band very popular in the open-air nightclubs around town. They even had a nice following of groupies, he volunteers.

"We had a young crowd, we were the only group doing that, that had our own sound," he says. "And because of that, when Soul to Soul came to town we were asked to perform."

Pickett, the Turners and the Staples, arguably, represented where the Aliens had been, musically. Santana, and to some extent McCann and Harris, were where they were trying to head.

"It was quite an experience," he says. "Being on stage with idols!"

He laughs, still excited by the thought all these years later.

"That was something else."

And on the heels of that, charged with inspiration, they recorded two singles in Accra, the four songs that now make up the second half of the new album. A fifth song was recorded, he says, but it was not released and the tapes disappeared. The second of those singles was just as lost for years, a mere rumor to the most devoted collectors of African music obscurities, including American aficionado Frank Gossner, who "curated" this project via his Voodoofunk enterprise, and producer Mike Davis of Academy Records, which is releasing it on Oct. 26. It was Gossner who contacted Telfer about a compilation of the group's material, a several-years-in-the-making goal met when Telfer discovered what is likely the only existing copy of the single in his attic.

As that small output indicates, the group's moment was intense but short-lived. Telfer says that performances around town became true happenings, the artists freer to expand the ideas than what is heard on the very short singles.

"Songs would go on five or six minutes," he says, though nothing ever approached the 20 or 30 minutes Fela Kuti and others were reaching in Nigeria with the burgeoning Afrobeat movement. "Fela also had dancers, so he could play that long!"

There were other groups influenced by the Aliens breakthroughs as well – he recalls ones called Basa Basa, Nokolo and the Barbecues. But the latter was the only one of the bunch that released even a single, as far as he knows, and the movement pretty much died out. Even the Aliens couldn't gain any more traction.

"This music was new and the recording company didn't know what to do with it," he says. "They were more interested in promoting highlife than doing anything with ours."

Telfer and Crayem gave into family pressure and went to university to study engineering. The other members recruited replacements, but that didn't last. And that was that, save for the memories, which came flooding back to Telfer as he helped put the archival release together.

"It really took me back to what we were doing at the time," he says. "We were having too much fun then to sit down and analyze it."

Does he consider it important music?

"Oh, yes," he says, without hesitation. "We were the first to incorporate the rock music, introduce that to the Ghanaian public. And now when people here it they do wish we had continued. Now the kind of music from Ghana is all electronic. Some people are really fed up with it."

Could there be a reunion? He's just not sure it could happen. Only Crayem (who works as a music manager with five bands in his charge) and Thompson live in Ghana now – though last year they gave it a try when Telfer and Couri happened to be visiting at the same time.

"We rehearsed a few songs, but we didn't record," he says. "It sounded more ... mature. The energy wasn't there. Still talking about getting together one day to maybe continue where we left off. We'll try."

There is one other thin lost to history that can't be recaptured: An opportunity.

Telfer and his bandmates did get to meet Carlos Santana and his group at Soul to Soul. But hopes for more than a mere meeting never panned out.

"They were there on a learning experience and wanted to jam with us," he says. "But they had to leave the following day, so we couldn't do it. We just talked about general things. At the time they had a problem with their Hammond B3 [organ]; there was a stuck note. So they were more worried about that, trying to find someone who could fix it and we were trying to help."

Maybe if Santana hears their music now, it could be time to reschedule that jam., written by Steve Hochman, published October 2010

Fela Kuti - VIP (1979)/ Authority Stealing (1980)


One in the long line of Fela reissues to appear in recent years, this two-song excerpt from the 1978 Berlin Jazz Festival marks a pivotal point in the history of one of Africa's most influential and controversial musicians. Having risen to an unprecedented height of international renown for an African artist, Fela in 1978 teetered on the pinnacle of his political and musical journey. He had recently been banned from performing in Ghana after a riot broke out at a concert in Accra; and the year before, Nigerian soldiers had destroyed his self-declared independent state, the Kalakuta Republic, a violent raid that was also responsible for the death of his mother. Apart from being a giant leap back onto the international scene after more than a year of such tragedy, the show in Berlin provided Fela with much needed funds. The money from the Festival would later provide him with the financial backing for his campaign to become the President of Nigeria, a campaign that was quickly blocked by the Nigerian authorities. Thus, this recording stands as an aural snapshot of a moment of deep transition in Fela's career. The physical foundations of his musical empire had been jolted, and he was about to enter a new phase in which his music and his politics were more closely tied than ever before.

Lyrically, both songs on the disc are directed at the corruption of Nigerian authorities. In "V.I.P.," Fela criticizes Nigerian politicians for ignoring the poverty, hunger and unemployment of the people in favor of catering to whims of theft and talking nonsense. "Authority Stealing" compares petty street crime to the crimes of government officials, asserting that the criminal politicians receive no punishment for their acts, while the street criminals receive lengthy jail sentences. These songs touch on pieces of the major theme in Fela's work as a political musician. Like his counterparts in other African countries, his music is propelled by his criticisms of social institutions, most specifically his critiques of the Nigerian government itself. With this reissue of Fela's headlining performance at the Jazz Festival in Berlin, and indeed with each of the recent Fela reissues, the historical portrait of the father of afrobeat becomes clearer and his impact on the course of modern music and politics becomes ever more evident.

Hal Hickson


From 1979 and 1980 respectively, V.I.P. Vagabonds In Power and Authority Stealing are lyrically sophisticated attacks on the abuse of power. Both are among the best of Kuti's final series of albums with Afrika 70.

The lyric for "Vagabonds In Power," another track which was banned by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation, was in part inspired by an encounter Kuti had with Sam Nujoma, leader of the Namibian liberation movement, the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), on a flight out of Berlin in 1978.

During the flight, Kuti was troubled by Nujoma's maxim "lutta continua" (Portugese for "the struggle will continue"). Kuti flashed that Nujoma, who was traveling first class, was happy for the Namibian civil war to continue indefinitely; for while it did, he enjoyed a life of comfort overseas, while his people bore the brunt of the suffering. Kuti's doubts increased when on arrival at Lagos airport, Nujoma and his party were whisked away by officials in a fleet of Mercedes-Benzs. Would one of Nujoma's guerrillas, Kuti asked himself rhetorically—one of his actual frontline soldiers, arriving ragged and barefoot—be greeted so hospitably?

In "Authority Stealing," Kuti declares that the corruption and theft endemic among Nigeria's ruling elite are worse crimes than the armed robberies committed by hungry people in their efforts to survive from day to day. "Different way be them way," he concludes, "na similar style be them style: authority stealing pass armed robbery." After Nigerian record companies refused to release the LP, featuring repercussions from the state, Kuti had it pressed in Ghana and smuggled back into the country.

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Another duo of albums on MCA's recollection of Fela Kuti's various landmarks. This double album really consists of two songs -- lengthy ones, as they tend to be anyway. The first half of the CD consists of a live performance from Berlin in 1979, V.I.P.. The rest of the concert that it was taken from was never released. This concert was important in its own right, as Fela was finally able to perform after being banned (officially or unofficially) from performing in a number of African nations due to his inflammatory lyrics. This concert gave the band some money again. Unfortunately, the great Afrika 70 band broke up after this very concert, due to rumors (or facts?) that Fela planned on using the money from the concert to fund his unsuccessful bid for president of Nigeria. As such, this stands as the last recording of the Afrika 70 ensemble (Egypt 80 would follow, but lacked some of the power and coherence of the Afrika 70). Following V.I.P. is Authority Stealing, an album recorded a couple of years prior. This album was actually inflammatory enough to initiate another round of beatings to Fela from the hands of government thugs, this time nearly killing him. The music itself was relatively standard fare by this time, but the lyrics attempt to rise to a new level of criticism of government corruption. In both of these albums, the music is relatively standard in and of itself, but the lyrics are noteworthy for their level of criticism and blame. The albums this time through are perhaps more important historically than musically. Still, anything by Fela has the ability to pump out something worth dancing to. Pick these ones up as a fan of Fela, but as a newbie, look into perhaps Confusion/Gentleman or Shakara/London Scene first.

Adam Greenberg


Authority Stealing garnered Fela Anikulopo Kuti one of his most severe beatings by the hands of the Nigerian government. Fela is blunt in his attack on the figures of government that were responsible for stealing large sums of money in the form of market control. Ironically, the government arrested him (and other outspoken citizens) for an armed robbery, meanwhile beating Fela close to death. Strangely, the rhythm section on this song rolls on in a very mid-tempo, non-reactionary pattern. The solos are low-key and lackluster. All the while, Fela accuses the authority figures of being worse than armed robbers and deserving of hanging. Authority Stealing was originally distributed by Fela's own Kalakuta Records as no other company would touch it due to its inflammatory remarks. Authority Stealing is a critical record as historical and cultural comment but not for its musical innovation.

Sam Samuelson


V.I.P. (Vagabonds in Power) was recorded live in Berlin, Germany. After an introduction as the greatest thing to come out of Africa, among other things, Fela addresses the crowd and instructs them to see him as “something new from Africa.” Five minutes into the track, the music starts. Fela then instructs the crowd to “Clap with the rhythm so [they] can feel it.” The song builds layer by layer–first the shekere and congas, then the guitars and bass, and eventually the horns. Fela leads the call and response horn arrangement with his soprano sax being echoed by the thunderous Afrika 70 horn section. He sings about leaders who misuse their power and steal from the people and the Berlin crowd gives him a warm reception.


"VIP/Authority Stealing" is a very good CD, but with the plethora of Fela reissues now available it is better to start somewhere else. Take your pick of "Opposite People," "Shuffering and Shmiling" or "Zombie," then if you love what your hear, pick this (and others) up.

This reissue does not get a fifth star in my opinion for two reasons. First, even though this reissue series prides itself in coupling two albums for one low price on one disc, it clocks in at only 44 minutes! The liner notes make it clear that there are more recordings from the live performance in Berlin that yielded VIP which have not been released. Why not include them here to beef up the length, or will they be reissued later -- 40 minutes this time for another $14! Second, to further eat into our lack of length, the first six minutes of VIP is spent on various political monologues by Fela and others, which is cool but wears on repeated listenings. Additionally, the live sound is good but not as rich as the sound on "Fela and Ginger Baker Live." "Authority Stealing" is from a studio session and is better soundwise, but the composition is not as strong as "VIP."

Despite these criticisms, Fela is an amazing musical force and pretty much everything he did with Afrika 70 is worth getting. Just get a few other recordings under your belt before this one.

Michael B. Richman


VIP (1979)

Performed by Fela and his Africa 70 at the renowned Berlin Jazz Festival in 1978, this live recording of V.I.P. is possibly Fela’s most profound vilification of the Nigerian government. In his very public address to the European crowd, Fela explains that V.I.P. – normally “Very Important Personality” – really stands for “Vagabonds in Power”, a direct jab both at the Nigerian authorities and power structure, as well as the ruling class. Musically lush, this was to be the last performance of the Africa 70 due to inner strife, mostly having to do with, ironically, complaints about pay (rumors were that Fela had announced his intention to fund a presidential run with the spoils from Berlin). After this performance, the group disbanded.

Written by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu


1. V.I.P. (Part 1&2)

Authority Stealing (1980)

Authority Stealing consists of one solid, groovy 24-minute track again criticizing the ruling class and the Nigerian authorities for abusing power and acquiring wealth at the expense of the Nigerian populace, comparing them to armed robbers. “If gun steal eighty thousand Naira,” Fela sings, the pens of the authorities in charge of the country’s coffers “go steal two billion Naira.” And, he adds, no one says a word about it.

Written by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu


1. Authority Stealing (Part 1&2)

Aug 1, 2011

Noise and rhythm

Nicholas Addo-Nettey

With Fela Kuti, the Afrobeat he brought to Berlin. For years he talked with drum workshops for children on water. Now experiencing a comeback Pax Nicholas. A visit to the Mark Brandenburg district.

It was a debacle. The audience booed and bellowed at the Philharmonie in between, as occurred in 1978 with Fela Kuti's band Africa 70 at the Berlin Jazz Festival. Too new, too free, too alien to conservative ears was the Afrobeat, this explosive mix of Afro-American funk, soul, jazz, highlife and other African styles. Even worse for Fela Kuti was that after the concert, eleven of his musicians left the band. It was the end of Africa 70 Among the deserters was next to the Star-drummer Tony Allen and the lesser-known conga player and backing vocalist Nicholas Addo-Nettey. He still lives in Berlin - in a one-room apartment in the prefab buildings of the Mark Brandenburg district.

Background of the exit, the massive state repression faced by Fela and his band were in Nigeria. In most of his songs, he denounced the neo-colonial relations in a provocative openness in Africa and the brutal military regime that ruled in his country. So he became a hero of the masses and the enemy of the rulers.

His musicians often suffered under the Patriarch Fela Kuti. "I will always revere him as my master, but there was a major contradiction: He talked a lot about liberation, but treated us like slaves," says Nicholas Addo-Nettey. The musicians were underpaid and in no way involved in the huge international success of the plates.

Nicholas Addo-Nettey came as a 17-year-old to Lagos, then the center of the African music scene. Born in Accra, Ghana's capital, he had already started as primary school children in gospel choirs and drum groups, his musical career. As a teenager, he was like most of his contemporaries in Ghana crazy according to American soul music. Otis Redding and James Brown were named by his idols. Consequently, he tried himself as a soul singer and was named Pax Nicholas. Curious, he followed the invitation of a fellow musician, who took him to Lagos in 1971 and introduced him there, Fela Kuti.

Nicholas was able to convince the Afrobeat godfather fast as drummers and singers of his abilities and was 70-member Africa. They could not possibly be any better time. Shortly after he was inducted into the band started the recordings for "Shakara," one of Fela Kuti biggest hits, the look, the international music scene for the first time allowed to Lagos. Stars such as BB King, Manu Dibango, Stevie Wonder and James Brown arrived at the "Shrine" club Kuti in Lagos over, to experience the new sound and eccentric live stage shows.

The young Nicholas saw these years of success in a frenzy, what is meant quite literally. "There have been any of us that was not nearly consistently high," he recalled today, laughing at his time in the "Shrine" and the "Kalakuta Republic", a plot of land in Lagos, the Kuti in provocative megalomania for regardless of the Nigerian state had said. There, about a hundred band members and family living under the reign of Weltverbesserers.

The military regime reacted with extreme harshness to the constant challenge to their authority, which stood for Fela Kuti and his "independent republic". During a raid in 1977 was almost the entire estate burned and thrown from a window cutis mother. She died shortly afterwards from the effects. In the same year Kuti and much of his band were arrested. Nicholas also spent nine months in prison, where he was severely beaten.

It was these conditions that Nicholas and the other musicians a year later persuaded to leave Africa 70, Africa's most successful band at this time. While drummer Tony Allen moved to Paris and there is still successful as a musician, as was Nicholas, where he had risen from large Bandjet cutis. He married a Berliner, and had two sons. He is now divorced and talking with percussion workshops for children and smaller musical engagement on water. In 2003 he formed with musicians from West Africa and Germany, the band Ridimtaksi, the course has also prescribed a Afrobeat, but except for a collaboration with the Finnish indie pop star Jimi Tenor in 2004 could still reach no greater public.

In recent years however, there was a happy coincidence. The Funk and Afro Beat DJ Frank Gossner had tracked down in a small record store in the United States a copy of a solo album of Pax Nicholas from 1973, which this time secretly and against Kuti's will with some Africa-70-musicians in the studio Cream drummer Ginger Baker recorded in Lagos was: "Well Teef Teef Know Of De Road". Nicholas says that Kuti reacted very angrily when one of his DJanes hung up the plate and he first heard them so. "Play that again," he reportedly said.

And indeed, "Na Teef" never played on a radio station and disappeared into obscurity for decades. Gossner introduced the extremely rare album to their friends at the New York label Daptone Records, which makes for some years with the soul singer Sharon Jones and the furore house band the sound of Amy Winehouse's hit album "Back To Black" provided. The retro-specialists were enthusiastic and brought a year ago a new edition of the out-lost record.

Since then, the hitherto peaceful life of Mr. Addo has Nettey from the Märkisches district, now back Pax Nicholas wants to be called, changed a lot. His album can be found in every well-stocked record store, old fellow from Africa-70-hours call after years of silence and congratulations, he is in regular contact with Neal Sugarman, one of the two heads of Daptone Records.


The translation was technically supported. Due to this there may be some mistakes in the english version, whereby the orginal version was in German. Everyone interested in the German version, check out the link. But still the english version seems to interesting to hide. Enjoy!!!