September 26, 2013

Red Hot + Fela

ARTIST: various artists
TITLE: Red Hot + Fela
LABEL: Knitting Factory
This is the Red Hot Organization’s second Fela-themed AIDS benefit album – Red Hot + Riot came out in 2002, and as Fela’s notoriety has grown exponentially since then, it’s only natural that all kinds of musicians are clamoring to take on his songs. Like all tribute albums, the results are hit-and-miss: the news item here is that the hits are truly remarkable re-imaginings. On “Lady” (track 2, released as a single last year because it was too good to wait for), Merrill (tUnE-yArDs) Garbus creates a feminist version of Fela’s most misogynistic song with the help of drummer ?uestlove, a true Afrobeat natural. Kronos Quartet and TV On The Radio’s Kyp and Tunde make an unlikely, brilliant team for “Sorrow Tears And Blood” (7). Even more unlikely in my mind was My Morning Jacket covering Fela – their 14-minute version of “Trouble Sleep” (6) turns out to be one of the album’s jewels. Don’t miss Superhuman Happiness and Rubblebucket’s hard-rockin’ cover of “I.T.T.” (8), featuring Sahr Ngaujah and Abena Koomson from the Fela! musical. And Congolese-Belgian rapper Baloji does his thing, to fine effect, on “Buy Africa” (1). Good stuff.
TOP TRACKS:    1    2    6    7    8

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