* 2021 Repress * Knitting Factory Records reissue Fela Kuti’s ‘Army Arrangement’ on vinyl, previously only available as part of the Box Set series. ‘Army Arrangement’ is about Nigeria’s attempt at ‘democracy’ in 1979 after more than a decade of military rule.
Bill Laswell’s mix of Army Arrangement for the Celluloid label was an act of gross cultural-arrogance. With Fela in jail on trumped up currency-smuggling charges when the time came to make the final mix, the label approached Dennis Bovell. But Bovell was unavailable and so Celluloid house producer Bill Laswell was drafted in. Laswell was contemptuous of the album.
In an interview with Musician magazine, he was quoted as saying: “All of Fela’s horn solos were abysmal (and) were erased…We mixed the LP in five minutes, as a favor…You can talk about Africa and fucking politics for days, but the fact is that keyboard player Bernie Worrell and drummer Sly Dunbar, drafted in by Laswell are high-grade musicians and Fela’s in jail.”
Friends smuggled a cassette of Laswell’s version inside to Fela. Listening to it, he said later, was "worse than being in prison.