Saturday, December 24, 2011

Shuffering and Shmiling / No Agreement

by Fela Anikulapo Kuti and the Afrika 70

I love the Knitting Factory re-releases of classic Fela Kuti albums.  They combine two LPs onto a single CD, and reproduce the original album covers, front and back, with a paper insert that explains a little about the different tracks and the circumstances around their writing and recording.

This particular CD contains Shuffering and Shmiling & No Agreement,which were originally released in 1978 and 1977, respectively.  'Shuffering and Shmiling' is a twenty-one minute song (originally split between the two sides of the record), wherein Fela decides to spare his usual targets, the government and the army, and instead attack Christianity and Islam, which he saw as social imports brought from colonial masters.  He was opposed to the notion of suffering through life on Earth to achieve heavenly rewards.  What makes this work as a message is the catchiness of his rhythm, making his words more palpable.

'No Agreement' could be an anthem for the Occupy Movement, with it's call and response repeating of the phrase "No agreement today, no agreement tomorrow."  Fela was not known for a willingness to compromise with anyone or anything, especially the poor social conditions of Nigeria in the late 70s.  It's a fantastic track, clocking in at fifteen minutes.  This is the same length as the third piece on this disc, 'Dog Eat Dog', which is a lovely instrumental track.

There are a large number of albums in this series, but I really do feel the need to try to collect them all...


DjM said...

Fela at the top of his game... so much serious truth in his lyrics, and yet so much playful drive from the rhythm section.

Bose said...

Necessity is the mother of invention, thanks for the great share!Agreements