* 50th-anniversary reissue, 2LP on red vinyl * Originally recorded in 1971 at Abbey Road studios in just a few hours, 'Live!' is a collaboration between good friends former Cream drummer Ginger Baker and Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and Afrobeat pioneer Fela Ransome-Kuti and his band The Africa 70. Featuring a live audience of 150 people who crammed into the studio with them, this is not only a piece of history with some of the most accomplished musicianship you'll ever hear, it's also a really fun party record and a great example of what a live album should be.
It's hard to go wrong with Fela Kuti's work from the 1970s, and Live!, which features the Afrobeat innovator backed by his powerhouse band Africa '70 and ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker, is no exception. Like all of Fela's recordings from the era, Live! consists of just a few tracks, each of which approximates or exceeds the ten minute mark. Yet the arrangements are so dynamic on these tracks, the criss-crossing polyrhythms so absorbing, and Fela's incantatory vocals so entrancing that the long running times never seem a factor. Every cut crackles from beginning to end with its mixture of funk, jazz, and traditional Nigerian music, underscoring once again Fela's revolutionary, indelible contribution to world music. Fans of Ginger Baker will want to take note that the drummer is not showcased except on a bonus track, which pairs the drummer with Fela percussionist Tony Allen for a smokin' sixteen-plus minute drum solo.
50th-anniversary reissue Side C: Mastered from the original tape and vinyl masters cut by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios. (sleeve note) Red Vinyls 2 LP but only 3 sides. Etching of the album artwork on Side D