Fela Kuti

J.J.D./Unnecessary Begging

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A two-LP set, J.J.D. consists solely of one 22-minute song, "J.J.D. (Johnny Just Drop)." It actually isn't much different in length than most of Fela Kuti's releases from this era (which usually contained two songs adding up to half-an-hour), but still made for rather short value. The song is decent enough, making extensive use of a live crowd and busy hand-drummed rhythm at the beginning, then gliding into a typical (if very long) Afro-funk-jazz vamp. The title track of the two-song, half-hour Unnecessary Begging has an uncommonly (for Kuti) slow-burning tempo that effectively maintains its slow, moody pace as instruments drop in and out. Philosophically, Kuti takes his usual stance here -- not that it's a bad one -- deploring poverty and government inadequacy. His trademark weird electric keyboards are heard near the conclusion, sounding like a warped record that's out of sync with the rest of the track. The other song, "No Buredi (No Bread)," is a bit more uptempo and, in its favor, makes greater use of those indefinably strange keyboards, which have an extraterrestrial quality when heard at length.

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