Fela Kuti

Original Suffer Head

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

After the demise of Africa 70, Fela set forth to create a new group of musicians that he could mold, shape, and direct to play out his musical conceptions. Instead of just offering a new group, he also progressed his compositional style and attitudes. Stylistically, the compositions became longer, more complex, and in some senses tighter; they began to take on Western classical structures in their arrangements but still carried the improvisational, American soul, and traditional African forms that gave birth to the original Afro-beat sound. Original Suffer Head is the first recorded offering from the group that he deemed Egypt 80; the name reflected his strong Pan-African sentiments. Released in 1982 after another brutal attack on his residence that almost killed him, it showed that he had yet to be broken by the authority figures who sought to silence him. (After decades of beatings and incarcerations, they would slow him down eventually, but not until after 1990.) Lyrically, "Original Suffer Head" calls attention to the strife and conflict that framed Nigeria in the 1980s, such as the lack of basic necessities in an era when the country was rich in petroleum sales. With words such as "Them come turn us to Suffer-Head," Fela attacks those in power for Nigeria's lack of development of food, water, and shelter, implying that the country's third-world status is a result of government corruption and stealing. "We must be ready to fight for am o," he pointedly remarks, "I say Suffer-Head must go." Also included on this album is "Power Show," a relatively forgettable number originally composed for the Africa 70 group but recorded here by Egypt 80 in a laid-back groove, with Fela making non-accusatory remarks about the state of Lagos in general. [In 2000, MCA released Original Suffer Head as a two-fer with I.T.T.]

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 21:10 Amazon
2 10:14
3 13:42
4 17:54
blue highlight denotes track pick