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Albums Of The Week: Fela Kuti | Live! With Ginger Baker 50th Anniversary Edition

The Afrobeat pioneer & the maverick drummer's legendary sessions are back.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “This year marks the 50th anniversary of Fela Kuti’s legendary live recordings with drummer Ginger Baker of Cream. To celebrate the occasion, the landmark album Live! With Ginger Baker is being reissued on vinyl and digitally, expanded with a newly unearthed recording of a second drum solo by Tony Allen and Ginger Baker taken from Afrika 70’s performance at the 1978 Berlin Jazz Festival. A separate Allen/Baker drum solo appears on previous versions of Live!, but this second part has never been heard until now.

1978’s Berlin Jazz Festival marked Afrika 70’s final live performance with Fela. In the spring of 1979, several members of Afrika 70, including Allen, would leave the band. Allen had been with Fela since 1964. 1980 saw the birth of Egypt 80, with baritone saxophonist Lekan Animashaun, who had been with Fela since 1965, as its founding bandleader.

Earlier this year, Fela was among the nominees for the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021, coming behind only Tina Turner in the fan vote. Fela’s legacy spans decades and genres, touching on jazz, pop, funk, hip-hop, rock, and beyond. While he never achieved true icon status during his lifetime, the last decades have seen a broad resurgence in his popularity, and a critical reevaluation of his life, music, and influence. In 2008, the biographical musical Fela! (co-produced by Jay-Z and Will Smith) became a Broadway hit. Since then, Beyoncé performed Fela’s Zombie at Coachella, he’s been called out as an influence by everyone from Paul McCartney to Questlove, and sampled by Missy Elliott, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Nas, and more. Vice President Kamala Harris even used Fela’s music at her and President Joe Biden’s first joint event.”