CONFUSION/GENTLEMAN (CD)

Release Date: 1973-74

Confusion

This epic Afrobeat album contains just one eponymous track clocking in at just over 25 minutes in length, and beginning with a mysterious and psychedelic musical interplay between Fela on organ and Tony Allen on drums. As the song takes on a righteously funky groove, Fela evokes the chaos of Lagos – the multitude of regional dialects, the gnarly traffic jams, the absence of a policeman to take charge – as a metaphor for the larger problems of post-colonial Nigeria.

Gentleman

The title track of this excellent album has often been hailed as Fela’s masterpiece. Musically innovative, melodically addictive, Fela got it all right in this politically scathing song in which he opposes Westernization and those who imitate Western ways. “I’m no be gentleman at all,” Fela sings, and then goes on to detail the ways in which he’s a “true African origina” — and therefore superior to those who wear three-piece suits and hold tight to their colonial mentality. Fela follows this track with Fefe Na Efe, which derives its name from an Ashanti proverb describing the beauty of a woman holding her breasts as she runs. Fela, who had many Ghanaian fans (and more than a few Ghanaian wives and girlfriends), sings this lush track as a tribute to Ghana. Finally, “Igbe” again shows the artist breaking cultural taboos by singing literally and figuratively about “shit”, as the word translates to, attaching the word to those friends who may betray you.

£9.99

Availability: Out of stock