Review : Fela Kuti - Live in Detroit 1986
PitchforkWhen he rolled into Detroit's historic Fox Theater in November, 1986, Fela Kuti had been out of prison less than a year. He never should have been in prison in the first place; he'd been jailed in 1984 by the government of coup leader Major-General Muhammadu Buhari on trumped-up currency charges. Fela was an outspoken opponent of Buhari, as he had been of Nigeria's other coup-installed dictators before, and his imprisonment was an attempt to silence him. It backfired. Amnesty International launched a worldwide campaign for Fela's release, and then Buhari himself was overthrown by another coup, this one led by Ibrahim Babangida. Babangida pardoned Fela and actually brought Kuti's older brother, Beko, into his administration as Health Minister.
Fela opens the concert captured on Live in Detroit 1986 with a short monologue that directly references his wrongful imprisonment. "In my country," he says, "Things happen just like that…You go your own way, mind your own business, next thing I know I'm in prison, man, just like that." It's part of a nicely rhythmic build-up to the song "Just Like That", a song that continues the litany of arbitrary ills that Fela laments can befall an average Nigerian (he generalizes it to all of Africa, too), wrapping them in recollections of Nigeria's devastating 1967-1970 Civil War.
This version of "Just Like That" is half an hour long, which makes it by some distance the shortest workout on this set, which was taped by Bob Teagan at the Fox and is just now seeing release. The set is only four songs long, but it sprawls for nearly two and a half hours spread over three discs. Honestly, it could have fit on two discs without changing the running order, so I'm not sure why there are three. Fela's last band, Egypt 80, was a pretty different animal from Africa 70, which is the band most people are familiar with from its funky, forceful, and relatively compact masterpieces "Zombie", "Water No Get Enemy", "Expensive Shit", and "Roforofo Fight", among others. Egypt 80 emphasized jazz over funk, for one thing, and indulged in long, spacy jams built around hypnotic grooves....full text
BbcAs a format, the live album serves numerous purposes: memento for fans of a concert recently attended, historical document of an important point in a band’s career. But, all too often, it’s a cynical cash cow to fleece the faithful. The best, however, make you wish you’d attended the concert in question. So it is with Live in Detroit, a recently exhumed 1986 recording from the first American tour by king of afrobeat Fela Kuti’s final band, Egypt 80, a year after he was freed from a bogus sentence for smuggling in his home country of Nigeria.
The memory of his incarceration is clearly fresh for Fela as he introduces the first song, Just Like That. "In my home country," he says, "They can put you in prison, just… like… that…" The song’s theme wouldn’t have been lost on the audience; while no corrupt militaristic hell-hole like Fela’s Nigeria, the Detroit of 1986 was a neglected, decaying post-industrial ghost-town. The recording’s bootleg roots – heavy with reverb, capturing the crackle and buzz of the audience – lend the music an electric presence....full text
GuardianFor Fela Kuti, 1986 was a crucial year. In April, he was finally released from prison in Nigeria after serving nearly two years for currency trafficking, after Amnesty International had declared the outspoken musical rebel to be a political detainee. He had been arrested as he was leaving for the US; at last that tour could go ahead, with Fela in predictably fiery form. This double album, recorded at Detroit's Fox Theatre in November 1986, is his first "new" release since his final studio album 20 years ago, and provides an exhilarating reminder of his power as a live performer. There are only four songs, stretched over nearly two and a half hours. Fela eased between funky keyboard work, saxophone solos, and cool chanting vocals on songs that included the furious Just Like That, the cool jazz of Confusion Break Bones, and the strident and angry Teacher, Don't Teach Me Nonsense. This was Fela on classic form....full text
Fela Kuti Album Reviews
Sweetslyrics Top 20 Artists
Fela Kuti Lyrics
Have you ever cried while listening to a song?