Drummer Lou Grassi works here with a mighty cool lineup – a sextet that features avant heavyweights Marshall Allen on alto and flute, Paul Smoker on trumpet, Steve Swell on trombone, Perry Robinson on clarinet, and Wilber Morris on bass! The tracks are long, and very open – freely improvised between the members of the group, in a really old school way that takes us back to the energy of the loft jazz scene of the 70s – as does the recording quality, which has a bit more bite than usual for KnittingFactory dates in recent years! The album features three long tunes – "Marshalling Our Spirits", "RePoZest", and "LouRa". CD
The original take of "Army Arrangement" – one of the greatest 80s grooves from Fela Kuti – stretched out here over the course of the entire album! The notes list side one as being the "instrumental" and side two as the "vocal" – but in truth, the whole thing moves across the space of the album together – with the band building up into tremendous energy as they get started, then Fela coming in for some very powerful lyrics that take the Nigerian government to task for its very corrupt practices. And of course, the music is fantastic – sharp, funky, and filled with this intensity that never lets up! LP, Vinyl record album
Late Fela – but great Fela! Underground System was released in 1992, but it sounds like Fela's best work from the late 70s – grooving away at a triple-time beat on two incredible tracks, "Underground System" and "Pansa Pansa". "Pansa Pansa" is especially great, as it's got these Cecil Taylor-esque piano lines over funky beats at the beginning – very odd, but very groovy! LP, Vinyl record album
A real classic from the great Fela Kuti – a seminal mid 70s record that not only shows his impeccable sense of rhythm, but also his sense of rage as well! The title track – "Expensive Sh_t" – is Fela's answer to the time that he got busted for dope, and was forced to take a dump for the cops in order to "produce the goods" (which he had cleverly hidden in his stomach). The track has a great choppy funk groove, and is filled with the kind of raw anger you can imagine that the subject matter would produce – rich emotion that not only comes out in the lyrics, but also the sharp instrumental solos! The other track on the album – "Water No Get Enemy" – is another fantastic one, with cool electric piano solos, great tenor work, and a slinkily vamping groove. LP, Vinyl record album
An amazing album-length jam from Fela Kuti & Afrika 70 – recorded on the group's home turf at Kalakuta, and with this stretched-out building of energy that's completely amazing! James Brown may have created the longform funky style of vamping and soloing – but Fela takes it here to the next level, and adds in a fantastic political message too – all with this sound that's extremely powerful, but with an intimate feel too – thanks to the crowd noises around the space of the recording! LP, Vinyl record album
Fela & Africa 70 —
VIP ... LP KnittingFactory, 1979. New Copy (reissue)...
A searing live set from Fela Kuti & Afrika 70 – a long album-length jam, recorded in Berlin – with the group really going to town in instrumental frenzy topped with very righteous lyrics! VIP doesn't have the usual meaning here – as it stands for "vagabonds in power", and is a searing attack on the Nigerian government at the time – one that has plenty of power from a lyrical perspective, but which really soars to the heavens as Fela and the group stretch the whole thing out over riffing guitar, driving percussion, and some incredible horn solos too! LP, Vinyl record album
Charles Gayle —
Repent ... CD KnittingFactory, 1992. Used ...
Just Sold Out!
Includes two long tracks featuring Gayle on tenor, Vattel Cherry and Hillard Greene on bass, David Pleasant on drums. CD
Turns out, it DOES run in the family – a great talent for Afro Funk grooves, with the same deeply soulful elements that made Fela Kuti's music so great back in the 70s! This smoker from Femi was recorded at the legendary Afrodisia studios in Lagos – with a nice degree of edge in the mix, which really helps preserve all the grit in the grooves you'd hear in classic Afro Funk from years back! There's none of the too-polished, too-contemporary sounds that might otherwise hurt the energy of the group on record – and instead, all the best bottom bits of the percussion, the snakeyness of the keyboards, and the raspiness of the horns comes through beautifully. Titles include "Dem Bobo", "Nobody Beg You", "E No Good", "No Blame Them", "Make We Remember", "Can't Buy Me", and "Bad Government". CD
One of the best soul collaborations ever! Fela and Roy Ayers team up for this whopping album that brings together the best sides of these monster soul talents of the 70s! In keeping with Fela's work, the tracks are long and Afro-tinged, with a complicated groove that grows over the length of the track. And in keeping with Roy's work, the album has a sweet soulful feel, with lots of nice jazzy touches, cool vibes, and great vocals by Roy. Two long tracks, both classics: "2000 Black" and "Africa, Center of the World". Long overdue! LP, Vinyl record album
One of the most compelling Fela albums of the 70s – and one that's got a very different feel than some of his others. The album features one long track – "Coffin For Head Of State" – and although the track still has the usual Fela staples of horn riffs, chopping vamps, and electric piano – it's also got a sad dirge-like sound that is incredibly soulful, and filled with sorrowful emotion that you don't normally catch on Fela's albums. Side two is especially great – as it's mostly instrumental, and features some great interplay between a spacey electric piano and the horn section. LP, Vinyl record album
Fela & Africa 70 —
No Agreement ... LP KnittingFactory, 1978. New Copy (reissue)...
Temporarily Out Of Stock
A killer from the classic years, and one of Fela's best albums! "No Agreement" is a super great groover – with a catchy hook that goes on and on, and some very tasty playing by Tony Allen and the group. The track is long, with heavy solos, and vocals that will knock you out! Lester Bowie guests on the track, and Fela's on piano, tenor, and alto. Also includes the cut "Dog Eat Dog", which is a slammin instrumental, with a very tasty groove! LP, Vinyl record album
Fela & Africa 70 —
Yellow Fever ... LP KnittingFactory, 1976/1999. New Copy (reissue)...
Temporarily Out Of Stock
A really killer 70s album from Fela Kuti – one that serves up a hell of a message, and some great slinky grooves too! "Yellow Fever" is a brutal attack on miscegenation, backed by a funky groove that makes the whole thing fall into place with an amazing riffing sound – bold, powerful, and Afrika 70 at their best! "Na Poi 75" begins with a cool spoken bit – then moves into this pulsating keyboard part which is almost eerily spare, until the rest of Afrika 70 come into the mix and really funk things up! Drums are wonderfully skittish – kind of double-snapping, while the bassline dips nicely below – and the tune ebbs and flows in this really great way. LP, Vinyl record album
One of the looser, more experimental albums we've ever heard from percussionist William Hooker – done at a time when his fame was really reaching past the New York downtown scene! The set was recorded in San Francisco, and features the great Glenn Spearman on a variety of reeds, plus DJ Olive on turntables, and Hooker on both drums and a bit of spoken word – on long titles that include "Solemn Breath Knowledge/In This Earthy Body", "Living Organs/Parallel Planes", "Archetypal Space", "Principle Of Duality", and "Flow Rt 1 (Awake)". LP also features two bonus tracks not on the CD – "History & Futures" and "Architecture (Book Of Numbers)". LP, Vinyl record album
Basically a group made up of members that had also recorded under the Groove Collective name, with a few missing and some other folks brought into the fold. They're under the wing of Bill Ware, who'd also played in the acclaimed straight jazz group of young lions, the Jazz Passengers – a big part of the KnittingFactory scene. He teams up with Jay Rodriguez here though, for a set with a great NY acid jazz vibe, equal parts sampled beats and live playing, with crisp production that never gets too slick, and some nice soulful vocals on a number of cuts. Nine tracks in all, including "Groove Thing", "Too Late", "On The Sand", "Sly 2" and "Sax It Up". CD
Donald Sturge Anthony McKenzie II is a powerhouse here on drums – working his way over the kit with a massive sense of force, even when things are mellow – clearly employing a wide variety of elements to keep his sound open and fresh! There's only one number here that features solo drums from Donald – and the rest are all longer tracks, each featuring a key contribution from an established member of the downtown scene – Elliott Sharp on guitar, Bill Laswell on bass, and Vernon Reid on guitar – who each duet with McKenzie on a number apiece, and really bring sort of an old school, almost KnittingFactory vibe to the set. And by that, we mean that classic venue in the 80s – at a time when everything it and its musicians were doing was very fresh and creative! Titles include "Elektra Jagger McKenzie", "Akai Gurley", "Ramarley Graham, and "Natasha McKenna". LP, Vinyl record album