Posts Tagged ‘femi kuti’

The Songlines Essential 10: Afrobeat Albums

Posted on November 21st, 2014 in Recent posts by .


Afrobeat is seeing something of a resurgence – with the release of a Fela documentary and new albums from two of the genre’s greats. Max Reinhardt gets into the groove and highlights ten of the best albums.

Click here to stream the full playlist.

Tony Allen – Film of Life (Jazz Village, 2014)
Tony Allen’s unique ‘highlife meets hard bop meets funk’ drum patterns underpinned and inspired Fela’s Afrobeat. This latest album finds Allen still an unstoppable force of rhythmic genius in his mid-70s. To quote my review in this issue: ‘an instantly enticing nu-Afrobeat groove, in which funky horns, squelchy synths, repetitive guitar and even ukulele catch you in a compelling slipstream’.

Antibalas – Antibalas (Daptone, 2012)
One of the finest fruits of Fela’s posthumous Afrobeat realm. From 1998 onwards, baritone saxophonist Martin Perna’s Brooklyn-based Conjunto Antibalas live the music, the sonics, the rhythms and the politics of Afrobeat. This CD is an eruption of tuff, brilliant songs, deliriously powerful playing and potent vocals from Amayo. Reviewed in #87.

The Fontanelles – Horns of Freedom (First Word Records, 2013)
The band that grew out of the onstage musicians for the London run of Fela! The Musical. This debut is an instrumental Afrobeat tour de force with a pile driving jazzy edge, to which they’ve added Caribbean and swinging Addis grooves. Its many highlights include ‘Afrocat’, ‘Pinprick’ and ‘Horns of Freedom’. Reviewed in #98.

Alhaji K Frimpong – Kyenkyen Bi Adi M’awu! (Ofo Brothers, 1976)
This album from Alhaji K Frimpong and his Cubano Fiestas is a mid-70s Ghanaian gem clearly influenced by Afrobeat grooves and rhythms though still very much a late period jazzy highlife album. ‘Kyenkyen Bi Adi M’awu!’ itself remains a dance floor classic.

Orlando Julius & The Heliocentrics – Jaiyede Afro (Strut Records, 2014)
Until Fela’s return from the US in 1970, Orlando Julius and his Afro-funk tunes were the summit of cool for young Lagosians. Then Fela’s Afrobeat, non-stop struggle and legend eclipsed Orlando for decades, but this album is his finest hour. In the company of London’s funky jazztronicists, The Heliocentrics, he creates an Afrobeat sound that you want to climb inside for a week at a time. Reviewed in #103.

Fela Ransome Kuti & Africa 70 – Expensive Shit/He Miss Road (Knitting Factory Records, 2013)
An explosive, musical and lyrical Fela peak, this is the CD reissue of two of his early 70s vinyls. Originally, the scatological, subversive Afrobeat classic Expensive Shit was backed with the haunting metaphysics and beautiful melody of ‘Water Get No Enemy’, while He Miss Road’s three tracks include the portrait of his city ‘Monday Morning Lagos’ and Tony Allen’s polyrhythmic tour de force ‘It’s No Possible’.

Femi Kuti – Shoki Shoki (Barclay, 1998)
This is the fourth album by Fela’s oldest son Femi, who over the last 25 years of non-stop touring has been keeping the flame of Fela’s legacy burning. This is probably his most memorable set of songs, from the sex with a smile on its face of the track ‘Beng Beng Beng’ to the accusatory ‘Sorry Sorry’.

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 – A Long Way to the Beginning (Knitting Factory Records, 2014)
Seun’s angriest, most fiery album to date, leading the band he inherited from his father when just 14 years old. His ever improving voice, even wittier lyrics (‘lMF’) and catchier tunes (ragged highlife wonder ‘Ohun Aiye’), production by Robert Glasper and guest stars like Nneka, M1 and Blitz the Ambassador, make this a heady brew. Reviewed in #100.

Dele Sosimi – Identity (Helico Records, 2007)
Dele really is London’s Afrobeat catalyst. He learned keyboards from Fela himself, played with Egypt 80 for seven years, became their arranger and musical director and then did the same with Femi into the 90s. The complex but compelling arrangements of Identity, its songwriting and funkiest of keyboards, all testify to Dele’s finely honed skills and unstoppable dynamism. Reviewed in #55.

Various Artists – Red Hot + Fela (Knitting Factory Records, 2013)
A razor-sharp fundraising tool for AIDS awareness that also traces the spread of Fela awareness within the international musical community. The first album, Red Hot + Riot (2002), featured producer and activist Andres Levin at the controls and highlighted Fela’s compositional genius in the hands of a huge cast including Nile Rodgers, Baaba Maal, and Macy Gray. This follow-up moves further out and sweeps luminaries like Kronos Quartet, My Morning Jacket and Spoek Mathambo into the fold. Reviewed in #97.

Who did we miss? Write and let us know,

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Live | Shambala Festival 2014 begins next week

Posted on August 15th, 2014 in Live, News, Recent posts by .


Photography by Carolina Faruolo

Femi Kuti, Mulatu Astatke and Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita among the acts heading to Shambala this coming bank holiday weekend, August 21-24

Sequins, glitter and party hats on standby, we are ready to experience Shambala Festival (August 21-24) for the first time and become honorary Shambalans. Once again we will be hosting artist signings and meet-and-greets with acts playing across the weekend.

To find out more about the festival’s commitment to sustainability and passion for creativity, head over to the official website.

The event has sold out, however we have whipped together a playlist to give you a taste of what we’re looking forward to. Keep track of our Twitter and Facebook pages for all the latest shenanigans.

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Top of the World: Femi Kuti – No Place for My Dream

Posted on June 11th, 2013 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Words by Peter Adjaye

Top-notch stuff from the first family of Afro-beat

The ninth album by Femi Kuti, son of the legendary Fela, sees him retain his crown as the true messenger of the spirit of Afro-beat. It is not only filled with fantastically sharp horn arrangements and deft fast-paced rhythms but also enriched with conscious on-point lyrics. Performed live by the new youthful line-up of his truly talented band Positive Force, it sees Femi playing the trumpet as well as the saxophone. The opening track, ‘Nothing to Show for It’, kicks off proceedings in style with an infectious bass line and a rolling organ, topped off with a full-bodied horn section that sets the scene perfectly.

At present, Afro-beat is experiencing a strong global revival, as this album demonstrates on tracks such as ‘The World is Changing’, sung in straight English. A true classic of the genre, with flying guitar licks and powerful lyrics that resonate with indignation about what’s happening around the world in these times of defeated economies and corruption. Another beauty comes in the shape of ‘No Place for My Dream’: an Afro-beat gem with crunchy guitars driving the melody’s moving chord changes. ‘Na So Wee See Am’ is a true carnival-flavoured riot that makes you want to jump up high, thanks to its insistent punch and pulsating rhythms. People get ready; the time has come to dance and listen to the truth.

TRACK TO TRY: The World is Changing

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(On Wrasse Records)

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Mick Jagger’s playlist and the 10 best new releases in the new Songlines issue

Posted on June 6th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

The July 2013 issue of Songlines is now on sale. It includes our regular Top of the World CD with ten tracks from the finest new releases from around the planet. The CD also includes five tracks selected by Rolling Stones frontman, Mick Jagger.

The Top of the World CD includes tracks from sitar maestro Ravi Shankar; Songhai bluesman Samba Touré; desert stars Etran Finatawa; the heir to the Afro-beat throne Femi Kuti; Louisiana’s The Hot 8 Brass Band; innovative indie-meets-mariachi duo David Wax Museum; and Owiny Sigoma Band, who combine Kenyan Luo music with London’s club scene, amongst others. 

Pick up your copy here, at UK HMV stores, selected WHSmiths and all good record retailers. Feast your ears on these all-new tracks:

* The Hot 8 Brass Band ‘Wolf Burger’ on Tru Thoughts
* Nynke ‘Düns Fan de Siedden’ on Crammed Discs
* Femi Kuti ‘Nothing to Show for it’ on Wrasse Records
* David Wax Museum ‘Harder Before it gets Easier’ on Mark of the Leopard
* Etran Finatawa ‘Is Ler Is Salan’ on Riverboat Records
* Los Desterrados ‘Aguila Guila’ on Enkalador Records
* Samba Touré ‘Al Barka’ on Glitterbeat Records
* Solas ‘High, Wide and Handsome’ on THL Records
* Owiny Sigoma band ‘Norbat Okelo’ on Brownswood Recording
* Ravi Shankar ‘Ravi Singhi Bhiravi’ on East Meets West Music

Plus Mick Jagger’s playlist:

* Clifton Chenier ‘I’m a Hog for You’ on Arhoolie Records
* Salif Keita ‘M’ Bemba’ on Decca Records
* T Visvanathan and T Ranganathan ‘Sandehamunu’ on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
* Farafina ‘Dounounia’ on Real World Records
* Fela Kuti and Ginger Baker ‘Let’s Start’ on Knitting Factory Records

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