Fela Kuti / Fela Kuti & Africa 70

Confusion/Gentleman

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This, another installment from MCA's superb recollecting of Fela's original albums, includes two of the most notable albums from the mid-'70s. Gentleman is primarily a verbal battering of the post-colonial mentality of his fellow Africans (also abused elsewhere in other albums). It is a relatively humorous episode this time through, as he mocks the "gentleman" for wearing numerous layers of clothing in the ridiculously hot African sun (where Fela was wont to wear a pair of shorts alone). Among the most scathing lyrics here: "He unknowingly piss on himself." This isn't the full-blooded political anger that would come about stronger in times to come, but it's a gentle step in that direction. It also marks the first album featuring tenor sax work by Fela himself, after Igo Chico had quit the band. "Fefe Naa Efe" and "Igbe" are both noteworthy dance grooves. Confusion, a single-track album two years after Gentleman, stands as a commentary of the state of affairs in downtown Lagos. Starting out with a spacy free jazz-like encounter between Fela on sax and drummer Tony Allen, it moves eventually into a thicker groove laden with horns. It is a brilliant showcase of his code-mixing abilities and lyrical skill, as he makes use of three languages while describing the confusion inherent in the marketplace of Lagos' Ojuelegba area. These albums are both classics in the Fela catalog, and this double album is thereby an outstanding choice for anyone looking to start or increase a Fela collection.

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