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File under: afrika!

Fela Kuti

V.I.P. / Authority Stealing


Format: CD

Genre: Folk

Out of stock

Fela Anikulapo Kuti's 1978 Berlin Jazz Festival appearance, here as V.I.P. (Vagabonds in Power), is one of Africa 70's finest performances. V.I.P. castigates Nigerian authority more sizably than any other Fela album for one reason: he verbally beat down the country's power structure in front of a European crowd. It was a big move for the singer (who'd lost his mother, his home, and any sense of physical security in his homeland thanks to Nigeria's thoroughly corrupt military elite). Fela certainly meant his tune to be contentious, but it cost him the very band that makes it so powerful here: a simple guitar vamp and percussive carpeting driving the horns to heights of passion unmatched on earlier Fela albums. After the Berlin gig, Fela made clear his intention to fund a presidential campaign in Nigeria with his pay from the performance. And the band walked. Not to be quashed, Fela of course found a new cast for Africa 70, and Authority Stealing (1981) shows off how well musicians could adopt the bandleader's aesthetic. The riffs are more antiphonal on Authority, both in the vocals and the instruments, creating heightened tension that peaks with Fela and the backing vocalists throwing mock accusations back and forth in a dizzying verbal display. Here you find the flowering of Fela's Afrobeat formula, riffing rhythm guitars underlaid by kit drums playing a shuffle beat enhanced by assorted percussion with vocals or horns. There are inspired pairings in the Y2K Fela reissue program (Shakara/London Scene chief among them), and V.I.P./Authority Stealing is a highlight in every way.
Cat. number: 314 547 384-2
Year: 2000

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