FELA KUTI — Sorrow Tears and Blood (review)

FELA KUTI — Sorrow Tears and Blood album cover Album · 1977 · African Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
What a year 1977 was for "Fela Kuti" he released six albums that I know of, had been beaten by the police and army, had his compound burnt down and to top it off his mother was thrown out the window during the compound raid and killed by security forces but the music kept coming with lyrics that only kept getting him into more trouble with the current government in Nigeria. The following year he really got himself into deep trouble when he decided in one grand ceremony to mark the date of the attack from the previous year to marry 27 wifes at once. Fela did not have an easy life and the trouble started in 1977 when he released "Zombie" which was one of his biggest hits with lyrics pertaining to the use of force and corruption in the Nigerian police force where after'"Coffin for Head of State" followed concerning his mothers murder with the flip on the album being "Unknown Soldier" referring to the authorities response to the incident."Opposite People" was also released but also we have another two Fela classics with "Zombie" and "Shuffering and Shmiling" and also this album, "Sorrow Tears and Blood' with the unforgettable lyrics that Fela wrote and recorded in 1977 concerning the 1976 Soweto Uprising.

Only two tracks and both are Afro Beat as only Fela knew how to play because it was he who came up with the format. Both are a fair length with the title "Sorrow Tears and Blood" being 10.15 in length which is actually quite short for a Fela tune as they usually are between 15 to 30 minutes in length with the other track "Colonial Mentality" being only 13.42 in length and both are as good as each other. The album only comes in for only 24 minutes but one thing, even though short the quality is not affected. Big band to say the least was the set up with usually around 20 people and a mix of instruments but Fela always had twin Baritone saxophones in the band, numerous people on drums and percussion. Always a couple of guitarists, a squad of female backing vocalists, bass, trumpet, trombone,etc and Fela sang lead vocals and played saxophone, keyboards but could also pick up a trumpet, guitar or drums when required.

The title is first with a quick guitar intro where intensity starts to build and then the band comes in with keyboard being up front and then horns. One thing is the use of "Shakers" or maracas which are the basic rythmn tool in Afro Beat and with the mix of drums and percussion poly rythmn is always present. Call and response are another component with the vocals giving the music its unique sound. Fela sang in Pidgin English with often the backing girls singing response in "Yoruba" his native dialect."Sorrow Tears ande Blood" is short and there is no long jam for the intro as Fela is on vocals within three minutes into to the song but the intensity keeps going up with some wonderful solos on keyboards and saxophone which actually finishes things off for the song. "Colonial Mentality" is the other and more in a usual Afro Beat style with a great instrumental,jam opening with the theme or chorus repeated by the twin baritones saxes throughout. Fela really gives the tenor sax a blow for this with always bass and shakers just behind putting in that rythmn and intensity which keeps building with some beautiful trumpet laid over it and keyboard having a turn later and that Afro groove coming keeps coming. The lyrics are concerning Fela's take with the colonial presence still felt within even the Black population and as always with Fela's influence from Black Movements he wanted it Africa's way. Just under 14 minutes of pure drive and joy even though the lyrics are not in that manner the music is always is with that great feel done only as "Fela Kuti" knew how.

Great Fela Kuti album and one that should be considered if you are after his best
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