Sorrow Tears and Blood (1977) accurately depicts the trail left in the wake of the February 18, 1977, raid by 1,000 armed Nigerian army men on Fela Kuti and his Kalakuta Republic. In keeping with the format upheld on a majority of Kuti's long players, this LP contains a pair of extended works, featuring one title per side. In contrast to the hard-edged and aggressive Afro-funk that Kuti and his Africa 70 became synonymous with, both the A-side title track and B-side, "Colonial Mentality," are seemingly staid, in light -- or perhaps because -- of the cruel state-sponsored attacks that he and his extended family suffered. "Sorrow Tears and Blood" is neither a full-blown, uptempo funk drone nor a somber dirge. The even-handed, midtempo groove trots along at a steady pace and features some comparatively sedate sax work from Kuti. Even the instrumental introduction -- which has been known to clock in at over five minutes -- is reduced to well under three. His lyrics are starkly direct -- "Everybody run, run, run/Everybody scatter, scatter/Some people lost some bread/Some people just die" -- yet the emotive center is gone. Perhaps this is the result of fear, shellshock, or a combination of the two. Kuti's words, however, remain as indicting as ever: "Them leave sorrow, tears, and blood/Them regular trademark." "Colonial Mentality" returns to a more seething and slinky musicality. The dark and brooding bassline undulates beneath a brass-intensive Africa 70. Rarely has Kuti's musical arrangements so perfectly imaged James Brown's J.B.'s or Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra. The message is delivered as a fable, demonstrating that it is the individuals who live in a stifling "Colonial Mentality" who are the slaves. His preface, stating that the colonial man had released them yet they refuse to release themselves, sets out to prove that slavery is a continual and concurrent state of mind for Africans.
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer