Feb 2, 2012

Fela Kuti - Lagos Baby

ela Kuti (1938-1997) was the first and brightest African super star, and a music genious of colossal dimensions, considered by many the unrivalled king of African music for more than 30 years. What Vampisoul has the inmense pleasure to offer, as part of our ongoingg African sonic exploration (Tony Allen, Orlando Julius, Highlife collection and more to come), is the musical birth of a MYTH and GIANT of world's music.

In 1970 Kuti changed his name from Fela Ransome Kuti to Fela Anikulapo Kuti ("Anikulapo" being a yoruba name meaning "he who carries death in his pouch"), and radicalized his music (inventing Afro-Beat!) and his vision of the world, joining forces with the Black Panther Party, forming the Kalakuta Republic (a commune which he declared independent from the Nigerian state), creating his own revolutionary political party "Movement Of The People", and rebelling against the military regime of Nigeria.

What we're focusing here into, though, is what Kuti did in the 60's, between 1963 and 1969, years before naming his band Africa 70 and becoming the first african music rebel. After staying in London between 1958 and 1961, where he studied at the Trinity College of Music, and prior to his first visit to the States, when he knew about the black power movement, Fela was back in his Nigeria home with his band The Koola Lobitos serenading nightclubbers with jaunty highlife jazz and afro soul music. What you can hear in this compilation is Fela Ransome Kuti (not Anikulapo) and His Koola Lobitos, doing an irresistible, torrid and infectious rhythmic mix of West Africa's Highlife music, jazz, soul and funk.

Licensed from The Fela Kuti Estate and Premier Records, this deluxe Vampisoul package, available both on double CD set and triple vinyl LP, features extensive notes by African specialist Max Reinhardt and artwork by artist Victor Aparicio. The vinyl version consist on two 12" LPs, and one special 10" LP, exact reproduction of Kuti's legendary 1966' "Afro Beat On Stage, recorded Live At the Afro Spot (PLP001)", with all the same songs, in its own jacket with original artwork, and liner notes!



There must be something in the air at the moment, because the zeitgeist certainly seems to be preoccupied with the musical output of Nigeria, and of course there are no greater stars of Nigerian music than Fela Kuti. This double CD volume accounts for Kuti's career between 1963 and 1969, drawing a line before we get to his Africa 70 days. Consequently, the compilation might be viewed as taking a less politicised approach to Kuti's career and deliberately sidestepping the music that coincided with his activism against the Nigerian military dictatorship during the '70s. the benefit of this is that it gives an insight into the man's purely musical innovations - this is afterall the musician behind what we now term as Afrobeat, and it was during this period in the sixties that his signature musical style developed from its roots in highlife, jazz and soul. This transition is compartmentalised and divided by the two discs: the first focussing on Kuti's early roots while the second unveils the definitive Afrobeat sound he was to ecome best known for. Awesome.



This double CD set covers the six years befure he changed his name from Fela-Ransome to Fela-Anikulapo (in Yoruba, “Anikulapo” means “he who carries death in his pouch”) - no wonder the Nigerian authorities felt so scared of him.

The tracks on this album are influenced by the time he spent in London (1958-1961) where he was studying music at Trinity College and before his first visit to the U.S.A. This is a time of a young trumpet player and band leader finding his musical feet. This is Fela Ransome Kuti and the Koola Lobitos in the nightclubs of Lagos in at a time when Nigeria had just become independent from colonial rule (1962) and expectations were high. Some of the tracks give us the impression he knew where he would be in a few years time (‘Ako’ recorded around the time his Afro-Spot at the Kakadu club), some show the influence of the American jazz scene (‘Amaechi’s Blues’), some are more calypso, some a little ska, some R&B (‘VC7’) but most of these tracks belong on the dancefloor of the nightclub; and boy, would you have loved to be in a club where Fela was playing in the sixties? That would be living the Highlife!

Forty years before co-creator of Afrobeat Tony Allen released Lagos No Shaking, the music of Lagos Baby ruled the niteclubs and it still sounds great.

Extensive and in depth sleeve notes from Max Reinhardt (The Shrine, Notting Hill branch) who is also in the process to writing a new biography In Search of Fela Anikulapo Kuti (with Rita Ray) is coming out next year. That’s one to definitely look forward to but in the meantime it’s Highlife Time with Fela-Ransome Kuti - it’s got the (pre-Afro)beat.


Tracklist CD 1

01. Signature Tune
02. Highlife Time
03. Lagos Baby
04. Omuti
05. Olulufe
06. Araba's Delight
07. Wa Dele
08. Lai Se
09. Mi O Mo
10. Obinrin Le
11. Omo Ejo
12. Bonfu
13. Fere
14. Onifere No 2
15. Oyejo
16. Oluruka
17. Awo
18. Yese
19. Egbin
20. Orise
21. Eke

Tracklist CD 2

01. Great Kids
02. Amaechi's Blues
03. VC7
04. I Know Your Feeling
05. Onidodo
06. Alagbara
07. Ajo
08. Abiara
09. Se E Tun De
10. Waka Waka
11. My Baby Don Love Me
12. Home Cooking
13. Everyday I Got My Blues
14. Moti Gbrokan
15. Waka Waka
16. Ako
17. Ororuka
18. Lai Se


  1. hola deseo tener esta musica favor los link, gracias. coralibe

  2. hola deseo tener esta musica favor los link, gracias. coralibe

  3. Sorry but cannot offer links ...
    pls check out the disclaimer!!!