Fela Kuti, Live in Detroit 1986
Fela Kuti did what he wanted
There’s a moment at nearly 15 minutes into the 40-minute performance of “Confusion Break Bones” on this live slab that stops the entire thing cold. Recorded in Detroitin 1986, “Confusion Break Bones” wasn’t released for four more years (on 1990′s O.D.O.O.; it’s now a bonus track on Underground System), and it’s not a funk bomb, but turgid near-cocktail jazz. At about 14:50, a voice erupts from the crowd: “Too western! Too western!Africa! Too western!” Much later, at 32:40, a two-minute percussion solo begins, but the tempo never leaves its poky 4/4. African, western, whatever — Fela Kuti did what he wanted.
“Beast of No Nation” is mellow as well, with Kuti playing ruminative organ and similarly searching sax intermittently over a cooled-down groove that heats up when it strips back to bass and handclaps around the 20-minute mark. (Sorry to be so clinical, but the tracks are long.) The groove grows more sinuous by the minute on “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense”; when the band cuts out at 27:30, it earns appreciative applause the home listener might want to partake in as well.