Release Date: May 8, 2012
Record label: Knitting Factory Records
Genre(s): Jazz, International, West African, African Traditions, Afro-Pop, Afro-beat, Jazz-Funk, Nigerian, Highlife
For Fela Kuti, 1986 was a crucial year. In April, he was finally released from prison in Nigeria after serving nearly two years for currency trafficking, after Amnesty International had declared the outspoken musical rebel to be a political detainee. He had been arrested as he was leaving for the US; at last that tour could go ahead, with Fela in predictably fiery form.
When Fela Kuti played this 1986 gig, he'd just spent 20 months in prison on charges brought by a Nigerian dictator. So the Afrobeat godfather's always-present indignation has particular bite on this live LP, as he and a band of 27 unspool powerful jams that mix funk, jazz and traditional African music. The sound quality isn't ideal, but Fela's bruising music is.
When he rolled into Detroit's historic Fox Theater in November, 1986, Fela Kuti had been out of prison less than a year. He never should have been in prison in the first place; he'd been jailed in 1984 by the government of coup leader Major-General Muhammadu Buhari on trumped-up currency charges. Fela was an outspoken opponent of Buhari, as he had been of Nigeria's other coup-installed dictators before, and his imprisonment was an attempt to silence him.
In its own way, this is a kind of grail; a live recording by the great Fela Kuti captured live mere months after his release from prison in 1986. After serving two years on a trumped-up charge of "currency trafficking," he was reluctantly released by the Nigerian government in April due to considerable pressure by Amnesty International. This show took place at Detroit's historic Fox Theater in November.
Rediscovered concert recording from the king of afrobeat. Stevie Chick 2012 As a format, the live album serves numerous purposes: memento for fans of a concert recently attended, historical document of an important point in a band’s career. But, all too often, it’s a cynical cash cow to fleece the faithful. The best, however, make you wish you’d attended the concert in question.
The Fela Kuti brand, as his son Seun refers to it, has only grown more powerful since the man's passing in 1997. Live In Detroit 1986 is the first new Fela album since the '90s and certainly the first since Fela! the Broadway musical spread his name to far more people than ever before. Newbies are in for a surprise with this dense and uncompromisingly lengthy live performance.