Fela Kuti’s influence on music from the Northern Hemisphere stretches back as far as Talking Heads 1980 masterpiece Remain In Light. But the man who traveled from Nigeria in the late fifties to study in London had concocted a new music more a decade before that which incorporated funk, soul, Yoruba sounds and West African polyrhythms, one which he christened Afrobeat.
It was a period spent touring in America though which added a more radical perspective after time spent with civil rights activists in California: this would eventually lead to the departure of his legendary drummer Tony Allen, but all that was in the future when he returned in 1971 to the Abbey Road studios to record London Scene.
Across it’s five tracks Kuti and the Nigeria ’70 players weave a mesmeric spell, opener J’Ehin hypnotically upbeat whilst the epic Egbi Mi O (Carry Me) still feels lean even at more than thirteen minutes. Sometime Cream drummer Ginger Baker had befriended the young trumpeter on his first trip and his double-jointed solo – and another until now undiscovered one from Allen – inevitably dominate the album to which he lends his name.
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