Fela Kuti: The Complete Works – 26 CD set

Fela Anikulapo Kuti is the undisputed emperor supreme of Afrobeat.His virtuosic skill and indomitable spirit of political protest cemented his standing as a great musical icon in every sense of the word. The instantly recognizable sound is of urgent, propelling poly-rhythms, tongue-tripping sax solos and a thick, tough horn section that blares out a sweet yet solid wall of sound. Fela’s strong chant-like vocals pound out against the big band powerfully. Fela Kuti’s music is part of the core curriculum of world music and really is essential listening. 

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The Independent Newspaper Review

According to the late jazz bandleader Sun Ra, the inherent dignity of the black man is nowhere better realised than in the proud riffs and complex harmonies of the big band, wherein the collectivist tribal spirit of African ancestry is best retained.

Ra was doubtless referring to the bands of such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Fletcher Henderson, but this exhaustive 27-disc retrospective of the career of Fela Kuti, on which some 46 individual albums are squeezed on to 26 CDs, alongside an additional DVD of archive film footage, makes the point equally as well.

There is an integral strength and power to the way the various layers of Kuti's Afrobeat sound link and lock together, from the sinuous rhythms of the drummer Tony Allen, through the insistent vamps of the rhythm and tenor guitars, which keep the riffs buoyant, to the majestic horn fanfares and chanted vocal refrains that nailed home the bandleader's declamatory political lyrics.

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