Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Song of the Day: Fela Kuti - Lady (1972)

I've had a basic awareness of who Fela was for a long time now; I knew he was considered one of the greatest musicians in African history, and that he was extremely influential to Western artists that began incorporating African rhythms into their work in the 1980's, most notably Talking Heads, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, and The Clash. But I had never actually heard Fela's music for the first time until just a few months ago, when I took a flyer on a compilation called The Best of the Black President, figuring that, at worst, it would be interesting to hear.

Well, that "at worst" scenario isn't what played out. Holy shit, this guy is amazing. I've since bought The Best of the Black President Part II, and I can't stop listening to both. It's like the best of James Brown's long early 70's funk freak outs, but instead of Brown's singing, the lead is replaced with Bitches Brew-era Miles-ish trumpet work and cool African tribal singing. It's like nothing I've ever heard, and yet somehow, the music all sounds instantaneously recognizable, like it's ingrained through osmosis. "Lady" is the first track on The Best of the Black President, and it's pretty representative of what his work sounds like. If you like James Brown, Miles Davis, Santana, and Sly Stone from the late 60's/early 70's, then this is for you.

This was originally written and posted on Facebook on May 23, 2014

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