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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fela Ransome Kuti and Koola Lobitos - Lagos Baby 1963-1969 (Spain 2008)

Uncle Roddus Album Of The Day.

I had actually seen a new copy of this a while back as I was first discovering the music of Fela Kuti, but decided not to purchase it at that time, partly due to the price and partly due to the fact that I was grooving to his later Afrobeat stuff. I picked this up second hand recently and there is a slight possibility that this could be the same copy I saw new earlier as I would doubt there are too many copies of this floating round my town. This CD is in near new condition so I feel it is a very good score.
All the music on this double CD set was originally compiled and released via Japan and some dedicated Fela fans as " Fela Ransome-Kuti and His Koola Lobitos
Highlife-Jazz and Afro-Soul (1963-1969) (CD Japan; P-Vine PCD-18511/3) " in 2005.(see Fela Kuti Discography at )

 That 3 CD set is very difficult to find now and this reissue I have by the Spanish label "Vampisoul" is also getting pretty scarce and has been deleted by the aforementioned label.
The whole set is made up of ultra rare recordings from Fela's Highlife Band "Koola Lobitos"  with several early single, his first album from about 1965, a live set from about 66' and a few singles of very early Afrobeat before he went to the USA and recorded the first real Afrobeat music on the " 69 LA Sessions"
The recording quality of these primitive recording is pretty lo-fi by today's standards but is far more listenable than most Bootlegs and the music is so rare that much of it was recorded off original vinyl and tapes and masters that weren't all that well looked after or indeed weren't all that good quality to begin with.
So putting aside the sound quality and concentrating on the actual music being played, we find that the Highlife music of Nigeria that Fela and his band is playing is a mixture of American Jazz, Caribbean and African rhythms. Fela and his band are great exponents of this music and there is some great playing and great grooving going on here and several tracks have become quite familiar with me now. A few straight jazz instrumentals interspersed with the Highlife tracks before we get into the Afrobeat on the second disc, which is recognisable as such but still as a strong  Highlife flavour more so than his later Afrobeat epics. A great taste of early Fela and although not as essentual as his 70s music, still a most enjoyable listening experience and again becoming a rare one as it was before this CD set was compiled. Rating 4/5.

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