Saturday, August 8, 2009


I remember the first mass 'reconsidering' of Fela Kuti's work in the mid to late 90's, (it was also around that time that I first heard Sun Ra.) Suddenly he was the name to drop, his records became expensive and in demand and shortly thereafter box sets and bootlegs of every last shit he took flooded the market. Well I say flooded, it wasn't so much of a flood as a trickle but we are talking relative terms here, relative terms.

I first bought a copy of 'Zombie' from Ebay in I think 1999, it was a Celluloid pressing from France, I listened to it, mentioned I had a copy to a few people as this seemed to be the thing to do at the time and went on to re-sell it to the record shop I was working in where it re-resold for over three times what I paid for it (70 quid, I seem to remember). 

Anyway, that was my brief and unspectacular fling with Nigeria's most famous musical son.

Then I was in Munich a couple of months back revisiting a gaggle of record shops that I had happened upon on a Sunday (which anyone who had tried to shop Germany on a Sunday will know means its 'strictly windows'- Not entirely sure why German retail seems so intent on committing recession aided suicide through idiotic closing times and other such cuntish quirks but there you are.) and I found an original Mercury pressing of this. 

I can't remember the shops name which is probably for the best because despite picking up this and a German pressing of the first Suicide album I wouldn't speak particularly favorably of it. No bulk discount, over-priced and about as friendly as a Parisian teenager. That said, everything I bought from there was in such good condition that I ended up smelling the sleeves and checking the seam splits convinced they were bootlegs. 

So I played it a few times since and finally got around to my own 'reconsidering' last night. It seems that over the past ten years I have warmed to the out of tune Bontempi organ and formerly annoying female African wailing that accompanies much of this work. i also think I feared the over long songs originally and remember only really playing 'Monkey Banana' more than once. 

The album has hugely political overtones and it turns out the entire thing is a statement against the Nigerian military, bit like the Pretty Things 'S.F Sorrow' then?  No not really. Seems Fela Kuti was fighting the good fight first hand and right up until his death in 1997.... Which explains the re-appraisal! A-fucking-ha!

Musically it's nice and beaty with an even pelting of dirty brass that jabs at you through out the proceedings, it's totally enjoyable even if it does get dangerously funky and whilst I don't think I will ever rate this guy in the same way many others do, it is a totally enjoyable listen.

The year after recording this Fela Kuti married 27 women all at the same time which is pretty fucking awesome if you ask me.


  1. So awesome Backshot, I had a lot of enjoyment and lessons from; and respect for Fela. Really awesoe to have 27 wives, My father had 18. I have 1... Fela's one the best 'humans' have to lissten to before they die... lots ofpeople died for this song in Nigeria where I come from... and Ride on Fela: thanks for being one of the people who taught me how to live forever! - Olarotimi Onayemi

  2. Mad love and respect to both you and your father Olarotimi.

    There is nothing as powerful as music with reason and cause.

    As a side note 18 wives is most definitely the way forward!