Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Fela Anikulapo-Kuti & Egypt 80

  • Live in Amsterdam [Capitol, 1984] B-

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Live in Amsterdam [Capitol, 1984]
There are obviously significant political differences between Fela and the musician he most resembles, James Brown--JB has never been imprisoned for his egomania, which is the least inflammatory construction that can be put on why Fela is in jail at this moment. More likely it's the ingrained defiance of the Nigerian government voiced (though my pidgin isn't so advanced that I get all the details) by the three songs he squeezes onto this live double. That's right, three songs--like JB, Fela is a true son of vamp-till-ready. Unfortunately, since he's not a world-class saxophonist or singer, and since his touring unit is long on brass and short on things to hit (one conga total), eighty minutes of steady but not quite uplifting groove punctuated by interesting horn arrangements is what you get. B-