Paul McCartney understood that only one man was legitimately bigger and better than Jesus: Fela Anikulapo Kuti. He who carries death in his pouch. John Lennon may have gotten assassinated by the coward Mark David Chapman, but Fela Kuti had to watch his mother get defenestrated by army zombies in the middle of his private compound. This isn’t a competition and the Beatles analogy is only here because of the above photo, but these two live Soundboard recordings of Fela & Egypt 80 were cut not long after he made Coffin for Head of State. The song/album was his musical attempt to transmute his suffering and into something as sublime it was sorrowful.
“Coffin” is on neither of the two recently re-discovered performances. The first is Live from Amsterdam, 1981 and features the dazzling “Govt. Chicken Boy” and “Original Sufferhead.” There are also two lesser worshipped, but equally damning diatribes on the Lagos Sunsplash ’88 concert. It’s strange to think that while Public Enemy was instructing this country to fight the power, Fela was still alive, a world away, writing songs like “Big Blind Country” and “O.D.O.O.” The Funkit Blog deserves full credit for these archival finds. Buy him the biggest chunk of igbo you can afford. The only negative aspect of this discovery is that I no longer want to listen to anything else. Fela’s music has the rare effect of making nothing else matter.