Fela Kuti

Music Is the Weapon of the Future

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Music Is the Weapon of the Future smacks of bootleg, but any reason for being the disc had when it was came out (i.e., releasing some of Fela Kuti's long-unavailable early-'70s music) was lost in the wake of Universal's reissue series. The brief liner notes claim these are "unique" unreleased studio versions, but all three songs -- "Suffering and Smiling" is "Shuffering and Shmiling, Pt. 2" -- clock in within seconds of the times on the official reissues. It's a better bet the source is a stolen master tape or a copy spirited to the outside world -- with Fela's blessing, quite possibly, because the sound is master-tape quality. No argument with the music, either. "Go Slow" opens with circular motifs passed from trumpet to keyboards to sax on its way to 17 and a half minutes of Afrobeat grooving driven by drummer Tony Allen that goes down very easy. "Roforofo Fight" immediately ups the energy ante before flashing solos and kinetic riffs from the horns bring it home, and "Suffering and Smiling" shifts the focus to Fela's antireligion, anticolonial, pro-African message. But the last two are available on The Best Best Of, and the first two are on the Roforofo Fight reissue. So unless you're an absolute completist Fela fanatic who needs to compare solos (if these songs are actually different versions) or have some burning need to have a disc with these three particular songs, Music Is the Weapon of the Future serves no purpose now beyond musing on the universal truth expressed in the title.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
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blue highlight denotes track pick