Fela Kuti / Fela Kuti & Africa 70

Everything Scatter/Noise for Vendor Mouth

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Perhaps one risks charges of artistic insensitivity by saying so, but by the mid-'70s Kuti's records were becoming predictable and formulaic to an extent. It was a good formula -- played and sung with conviction -- and if any individual record or two were the only evidence of his work, they would be properly respected as important music. However, it isn't too easy to differentiate, in large degrees, between his numerous releases of the era that comprised two (and exactly two) ten- to 15-minute songs. These were built from several minutes of instrumental interplay between electric keyboards, horns, and percussion to a vocal declaiming general platitudes about injustice and African identity, with energetic contributions from backup singers. The two 1975 albums Everything Scatter and Noise for Vendor Mouth, combined on one disc for this CD reissue, have four such songs. From Everything Scatter, the ten-minute title track posits Kuti and his followers versus the status quo, while the 15-minute "Who No Know Go Knows" strikes a more relaxed groove in its call for African unity. Noise for Vendor Mouth again follows the musician's usual path for the period, with "Noise for Vendor Mouth" putting some more emphasis on the choppy, lean, funk-ish guitars than some other Kuti cuts. That album's other track, "Mattress," goes a little further afield in its controversial subject matter, here reflecting his polygamous lifestyle, though musically it's in line with his usual recordings from the era.

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