Fela redux: ‘The Best of the Black President’ ushers in reissue series

Pub date October 30, 2009


The Best of the Black President – Deluxe Edition
(Kalakuta Sunrise/Knitting Factory)

By Kimberly Chun

Ripe for revival and just in time for FELA!, the Broadway musical, as well as the real-life black president, Fela Kuti was a legend in his own time — the fact that he passed more than a dozen years ago seems surreal. Watch him today on YouTube (below) or on the Slice of Fela DVD that accompanies the new Best of the Black President (Kalakuta Sunrise/Knitting Factory) and includes excerpts from the film Music Is the Weapon and a Berlin Jazz Festival performance. You’ll get a glimpse of the visonary’s shamanistic sonic power.

No need to rely on the visuals though – just let Black President‘s two discs’ full of hypnotic grooves wash over you. “Army Arrangement,” “Roforofo Fight,” “Lady,” “Water Get No Enemy” — the first in Knitting Factory Records‘ remastered reissue series of 45 Kuti titles shines a light on his ’60s band Koola Lobitos and takes you higher. Guarans. It’s the first time all 45 albums will released on vinyl in North America — something to look forward to in the next 18 months.

Here’s a taste of latter-day Fela with Afrika 70, shot by Ginger Baker (not included on the DVD):