Fela Kuti - London Scene (50th Anniversary Edition Vinyl)

Fela Kuti - London Scene (50th Anniversary Edition Vinyl)


50th anniversary edition of 1971's London Scene, pressed on limited edition white, red, blue splatter vinyl. Complete with a collector's gold OBI strip.

1) J’Ehin-J’Ehin 
2) Egbe Mio 
3)Who’re You

1) Buy Africa
2) Fight to Finish

In 1958, Fela left Nigeria for London. His parents had hoped he would study to become a doctor, but Fela was determined to continue with music. Finally, his mother, women’s rights and anti-colonial campaigner Funmilayo Anikulapo Kuti, reluctantly acquiesced. 

In London, Fela took the entrance examination for Trinity College of Music, but failed his music-theory paper. Because he had travelled so far to attend the college, and because of his talent on the trumpet, the college principal still allowed him to enroll and retake the theory exam later. Fela was a diligent student at Trinity, but his after-hours musical education in London’s jazz clubs was important too. It was during this time that Cream drummer Ginger Baker first encountered Fela. 

After finishing school, Fela returned to Nigeria with his band Koola Lobitos. Fusing the sounds of Jazz and Funk with the traditional African music he had been raised on, his star status began to flourish. EMI, his label at the time, saw the true power of his musical creation and brought Fela and his band back to London. The result was London Scene, recorded at Abbey Road Studios. While recording, Fela began his friendship with Ginger Baker, who plays uncredited on the track “Egbe Mi O”. London Scene is the beginning of what would become Fela’s signature Afrobeat style and serves as a great introduction to Fela’s music. 

“Buy Africa” is one of Fela’s first politically-informed songs. The lyrics were written in support of a government campaign to encourage local industry. At this point in his life, Fela remained open to accommodation with the state when he deemed it to be in the Nigerian and pan-African interest. He even invited government sponsorship for “Buy Africa,” but was rudely rebuffed by the politician he approached with the idea. The incident proved to be an important moment in shaping Fela’s future relationship with authorities. From 1972, he would no longer release accommodationist songs. From that point on, he would identify the status quo as the fundamental problem - a problem that could not be solved by government campaigns, but only by complete overhaul, if not overthrow, of the government itself. 

On “J’Ehin J’Ehin” (“eat teeth eat teeth”), Fela lampoons people so greedy that they eat their own teeth, a reference to a Yoruba expression that describes people who are so hungry that once they have finished their food they eat the plate. On “Who’re You,” Fela channels James Brown’s vocal style over an angular funk groove. “Fight to Finish” draws on Yoruba folklore to offer advice: once you have started something, be prepared to finish it. 

All tracks written by Fela Anikulapo Kuti

All tracks published by Sony / ATV 

Licensed to Knitting Factory Records by the Fela Anikulapo Kuti Estate

Liner notes from Chris May commentary for Live!, London Scene, V.I.P.

Design and layout by Zach Jaeger

Photos by Bernard Matussière