(Fela+Broadway)xKnitting Factory=15 albums.


[Lifted these press releases from Ink19‘s Staff Message Board; I’m hoping they will allow me to write an omnibus review of the whole batch. Knitting Factory Records is releasing seven CDs of music from Fela’s 1970s peak, as well as the cast recording from the critically-acclaimed “Fela! The Musical“, which (along with the Messengers project by K’Naan and J. Period) has gotten a whole new generation hip to Nigeria’s seminal saxophonist and his powerhouse band.]



Knitting Factory Records is very excited to announce that the second set of Fela reissues will be released on May 11, 2010. Once again, as the reissues are being made available in mostly chronological order, these seven CDs that contain 14 albums total are mostly from the mid-70s and represent Fela and Africa ’70 in their prime.

Clearly his and the group’s most productive period (12 of the albums were released in 1975 and 1976 alone), it is during this point in his life that Fela’s social commentary began to reach a boiling point with songs such as “Icy Blindness” and “Expensive Shit.” However, in this collection of songs he also touched on more sensual subjects as in “Na Poi,” philosophy as in “Water No Get Enemy” and the shaking loose of the colonial mentality as in “Yellow Fever.”

The titles that are being released are:
*Alagbon Close (1974)/Why Black Man Dey Suffer (1971)
*Expensive Shit (1975)/He Miss Road (1975)
*Everything Scatter (1975) /Noise For Vendor Mouth (1975)
*Monkey Banana (1975)/Excuse O (1975)
*Ikoyi Blindness (1976)/Kalakuta Show (1976)
*Yellow Fever (1976)/Na Poi (1976)
*J.J.D. (Johnny Just Drop) (1977)/Unnecessary Begging (1976)

Right now Knitting Factory Records, in association with Topspin, is making this collection of CDs available for pre-sale in three different configurations: offering one is the digital download of all the titles; offering two is the digital download plus all the CDs; offering three is all of the above with the inclusion of a t-shirt. All of the titles have been re-mastered and re-released in unique digi-packs with the original artwork. “This second batch of reissues has some of the most powerful music of Fela’s career,” says Knitting Factory Records’ Brian Long. “When the world thinks of Fela, it is the music from this perfiod that generally gets discussed.”

Again, the reissue series is well timed as it coincides with the critically acclaimed FELA!, the hit Broadway musical that has been celebrating Fela’s life and music nightly since it opened in November 2009. It was directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Bill T. Jones and produced by Shawn ‘Jay-Z” Carter and Will & Jada Pinkett Smith with music by the world-renowned Antibalas and other members of the NYC Afrobeat community, under the direction of Aaron Johnson.

The next group of reissues will be released in the fall. 


Knitting Factory Records is excited to announce the June 8th release of Fela! – Original Broadway Cast Recording. The record documents the magic of the hit Broadway musical that Ben Brantley of the New York Times called “hot (and seriously cool).” He went on to say that “there has never been anything on Broadway like this production,” and Elysa Gardner of USA Today called it “this decade’s most exhilirating new Broadway musical.” The album will be available for pre-release order on April 20th at http://www.felaonbroadway.com .

Fela! – Original Broadway Cast Recording features the incomparable Sahr Ngaujah as Fela singing with members of the irrepressibly funky Antibalas. A version featuring Kevin Mambo will be available for download and for sale at the theater. All 16 of the Fela compositions that are peformed on stage each night, leaving sold-out audiences astonished and breathless at the end of every show, are on the record as are several songs peformed by Funmalayo (Fela’s mother) as played by the Tony-award winning Lilias White, and Sandra Izadore (Fela’s American girlfriend) as played by Saycon Sengbloh. The record was produced by the Grammy-nominated Robert Sher.

“We worked incredibly hard, and have had amazing and talented people on board to create what we think is one of the hottest, sexiest, entertaining and unique Broadway experiences today,” says the show’s producer Stephen Hendel. “We’re working equally hard to make sure that’s captured in the cast record.”

Based on the life of groundbreaking African composer and performer Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, FELA! is the critically acclaimed Broadway musicalthatuses Fela’s music to explore his life as an artist, political activist and revolutionary musician. Directed and choreographed by Tony® Award winner Bill T. Jones, with arrangements by Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean, FELA! is a provocative hybrid of concert, dance and musical theatre. The cast recording captures the electricity and joy that thousands have experienced at the Eugene O’Neill Theater every night since the play opened on November 23, 2009. The record is a document of that experience, yet at the same time is a musical statement in its own right.

Says Hendel, “There are three great bands in the world that can capture this music with the thrill and intensity of Fela Kuti himself: Femi and Seun Kuti live and play in Nigeria and tour around the world; members of Antibalas live in Brooklyn. We are priviliged to have these members on our stage every night, bringing this music to a world that has, to a large extent, only recently understood what they’ve been missing.”


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