Various Artists: Red Hot + Fela (Knitting Factory) - album review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #48 - November/December 2013 - HAIMVarious Artists

Red Hot + Fela

Knitting Factory

Dec 16, 2013 Various Artists Bookmark and Share

Fela Kuti’s death in 1997, caused by a sarcoma he developed while suffering from AIDS, continues to have an impact on the world in Africa and beyond. The musical inspired by his life, FELA!, has been a Broadway hit, and his back catalogue has been re-released to millions of new fans. The sound he pioneered, Afrobeat, has inspired modern bands from Vampire Weekend to Atoms for Peace.

Those lucky enough to have experienced him during his lifetime will recall the energy and passion for music and the sheer showmanship of his work. This collaboration with Red Hot, an AIDS charity that fights the disease by releasing superb compilations such as 2010’s Dark Was the Night, is an attempt by today’s artists to serve Kuti’s music for a cause close to his memory.

The artists involved are a diverse group: tUnE-yArDs, My Morning Jacket, Kronos Quartet, and Childish Gambino to name only a few, and the result is a compilation that is at times as exciting as its inspiration.

“Trouble Sleep,” featuring My Morning Jacket is over 14 minutes of gloriously building and brooding horns and guitars, faithful to the original and just as powerful, while tUnE-yArDs’ cover of Kuti’s hit “Lady” has a different slant with female vocals, but retains the same energy.

The highlight is the cover of “Sorrow Tears and Blood” by Kronos Quartet and Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe from TV on the Radio. The combination of the string parts, Adebimpe’s vocals, and the contemplative subject matter works brilliantly.

A new generation of artists are as indebted to Fela Kuti, just as many who were inspired by him in his lifetime. Red Hot + Fela contains just a selection, but it will add to his legacy and at the same time fight against the disease that took him before his time was up. (

Author rating: 7/10

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