Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Fela Ransome-Kuti & the Africa 70

  • Greatest Hits [EMI, 1984] B

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Greatest Hits [EMI, 1984]
Read the fine print: "Recorded in Lagos Nigaria [sic] and EMI, London 1971-1973." In other words, in the early days of Afrobeat, while Fela was (a) in the throes of inspiration or (b) getting his shit together. Or, as you'd figure, some combination. Familiar riffs and beats are already in place on these four-minute songs, and harsh rhetoric, too. At times the singing goes for a feral power abandoned later. But the sonority and build and staying power of great Fela are missing, and missed. B