Magazine article New Internationalist

Highlife-Jazz and Afro-Soul (1963-1969)

Magazine article New Internationalist

Highlife-Jazz and Afro-Soul (1963-1969)

Article excerpt

Highlife-Jazz and Afro-Soul (1963-1969)

by Fela Ransome Kuti and his Koola Lobitos

(Knitting Factory Records, KFR 1134 3CDs and digital)

How could one sum up the lifeworks of Fela Ransome Kuti, the inventor of Afrobeat, a style that's now gone global? Fela, the defiant firebrand who declared his own republic in the teeth of Nigeria's military rulers? Fela, the figure whose funeral - he died from AIDS-related illness in 1997 - was attended by over a million people? It's a nigh-on impossible task.

Highlife-Jazz and Afro-Soul offers a good place to start. The beauty of this triple CD set is in its framing. Rather than pulling in Fela's various outfits, from the Africa 70 to the Egypt 90 ensembles, it concentrates on six key years in the musician's development. They take Fela (then playing trumpet rather than his later trademark sax) and the Koola Lobitos, the band he formed in London as a student, to the very beginnings of political radicalization in the late 1960s and Afrobeat itself. …

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