Wednesday, September 15, 2010

LISTEN: Fela Kuti - "Zombie"

Yesterday, the latest batch of Fela Kuti reissues was released by Knitting Factory Records. This latest group of reissues, entitled "Zombie" after Kuti's most well known song, contains 11 albums and spans from 1976 - 1980. This was a period during which Kuti was very politically activated as his Kalakuta Republic, a communal compound in Nigera that housed his family, band members, and recording studio, was incresingly under siege by the Nigerian government. Kuti declared the commune to be independent from the Nigerian government in 1970. But 7 years later, it burned to the ground following an attack by the Nigerian army.

The albums released as part of the "Zombie" reissue series are...
Zombie (1976)
Upside Down (1976) / Music of Many Colours (1980)
Stalemate (1977) / Fear Not For Man (1977)
Opposite People (1977) / Sorrow, Tears and Blood (1977)
Shuffering & Shmiling (1978) / No Agreement (1977)
V.I.P. (1979) / Authority Stealing (1980)

MP3: Fela Kuti - "Zombie"

This was Kuti's political statement against members of the Nigerian army, recorded before the attack on Kalakuta Republic. He called the soldiers zombies because of how they followed their orders blindly. In the song he sings that a zombie will not walk unless it is instructed to, expressing Kuti's anger over how these men strictly followed their superiors and orders without question despite the negative effect the army's practices were having on the people. In a world in which intimidation and fear ruled over the people, Fela Kuti and his music persevered in the face of oppression.

Knitting Factory Records' Brian Long says, "What's fascinating about Fela's music at this point is the dichotomy between the music and the message. Out of context, these songs are incredibly upbeat and full of the hottest African funk, while in the context of Fela's life, when you read the lyrics and know the story, they are full of frustration and a fiery anger that was meant to lift the people into protest."

The next group of reissues will be released in the winter.

BUY: Pick up the Zombie reissues here.

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