Fela Kuti: The Best Best of Fela Kuti

If you love music and haven't heard Fela Kuti, you should check this out.

Fela Kuti wasn't a rock musician, but his music rocks. It is passionate and exciting, and like the greatest rock music, it feels like it could lose control and explode at any moment. His music is both chaotic and controlled, and there is always fire simmering just beneath the surface. He was a very influential man in both rock and jazz, and although his name isn't widely known, his presence can be felt in virtually every style of popular music.

Music: 4 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
This isn't necessarily a 4-star collection, but it's tough to make a "best of" for an artist like Kuti. Seminal Fela tracks like "Lady," "Zombie," and "Coffin for Head of State" are included. More than half of the songs on this two-disc set have been edited, but since this is presumably an introduction, that was a reasonable decision and each edit maintains the essence of the original song. My only complaint is that one or two of the (relatively speaking) less exciting tracks could've been sacrificed to make room for something from Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Africa '70 with Ginger Baker - Live!, a stellar live album featuring the drummer from Cream.

Packaging: n/a (Damaged)
It's a shame that the booklet is missing most of its pages, because it looks like it offered a good overview of Fela Kuti and each of the songs. There's enough text in the EPFL copy, though, to give an idea of the demons and desires that drove this man, both musically and politically.

Listen if you like: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye West, Sun Ra, Bad Brains, Bob Marley, Talking Heads, Public Enemy, The Clash, Billy Bragg, Ornette Coleman, The Good The Bad & The Queen, James Brown, etc.

If it were food, it'd be: Some imaginary food that combines efo (a Nigerian stew made from leafy green vegetables) with fried chicken and hamburger and good lager and hot peppers and fresh corn and potatoes and about a thousand other ingredients from all over the world, and somehow it all tastes delicious and when you're done eating, you're a little bit smarter and a little bit tougher and a little bit sexier and a little bit closer to starting a revolution that will tear down injustice and replace it with truth.

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