1975, Music

Expensive Shit (1975) by Fela Kuti

I know nothing about Kuti, just his reputation. So this is a new experience of me. And it means that I have no idea if this record is as big a deal as I’ve read. “The place to start” is what I’ve heard a lot. And if that’s true, I guess I’m listening to it at the right time. But I have no context, of course.

So this “album” is barely longer than an EP and consists of just two tracks. (It’s actually listed as a “single” in my streaming service, which is funny and made it hard to find.) It’s like the polar opposite of one of those punk “albums” where there are like 15 tracks in 12 minutes or whatever. It’s a brief taste and I have no idea why it’s so short, or if that was standard for his output at the time.

But this is some outstanding funk music, hitting most of the right notes for me. This is the kind of sound I want out of ’70s big band funk – full of instruments and rhythms but recorded in a way in which things don’t get lost in the mix. It’s really excellent stuff. I don’t know if I notice a distinct African character to this music – outside of the lyrics and singing, of course – that is clearly different from what was going in the States at the same time, but that could merely be speaking to my ignorance of this area of music. (Also, if this is “the place to start”,it’s possible that it is the most accessible to western listeners, right?)

Honestly my biggest complaint is that it’s insanely short. And, as I said above, I have no idea why it is as short as it is. The record left me wanting more and it certainly makes me want to listen to more Kuti. And it feels like this is a pretty big hole in my listening to date.


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