Live in Detroit 1986
Release date: 14.05.2012
Music Style: Rare Groove
Article No.: 1779745 / STRUT095LP
Detroit, Michigan: the sprawling, northern city on the southern shore of Lake Erie, once home to the United States auto industry and a music scene more potent than anywhere else in the world. By 1986, the Motor City’s industrial heartland was crumbling, Motown Records had decamped to Los Angeles and the drug-fuelled creativity that had once rendered the music of George Clinton’s Parliament, the MC5 and The Stooges so radical was already ancient history.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s spiritual and political leanings were not far removed from those that inspired these bands: in a 1986 interview with Roger Steffens in Los Angeles he professed “that science that people could not decipher in the Egyptian pyramids would be revealed in the Age of Aquarius.” Beyond such hazy philosophising, Fela’s proclamations tended to possess a genuine urgency due to his run-ins with Nigeria’s military rulers. Having formed his own political party, the Movement Of The People, in 1979 and having fearlessly denounced Nigeria’s ruling generals and their lackeys from the stage and in polemical columns in newspapers, Fela had encountered the junta’s wrath: several periods of imprisonment, beatings and harassment. Such punishment would have destroyed a lesser man but Fela never relented and the citizens of Lagos celebrated him for his bravery, music and cynical wit.
By the mid-1980s Kuti’s music had won him an international following and he (and fellow Nigerian musician King Sunny Ade) had signed Western recording deals. Yet, when attempting to leave Nigeria to tour the US in 1984, Fela was arrested on trumped up charges of ”currency trafficking” and was sentenced to five years in jail. Amnesty International adopted Fela as a Prisoner Of Conscience and their campaign helped free him from incarceration in April 1986. Two months later he was a featured artist on the Amnesty International “Conspiracy Of Hope” tour of the USA, appearing on stage alongside the likes of U2, Sting, Peter Gab
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