Fela Kuti - Monkey Banana / Excuse-O (CD)

Fela Kuti - Monkey Banana / Excuse-O (CD)



1975's Monkey Banana and Excuse-O each feature a two tracks of about a dozen minutes each; Monkey Banana was really more an extended single than a proper album, reflecting a time when Fela's music was moving even more into long extended grooves.

Both of the cuts, "Monkey Banana" and "Sense Wiseness," have his characteristic blends of improvisational-sounding trades between various instruments and lead and chanting backup vocals, along with his minor-based melodies. "Monkey Banana" reflects his social consciousness in deploring the poor conditions of workers' lives in Nigeria.

"Sense Wiseness" has a funkier beat and prominent, high, glistening electric keyboards, the backdrop for lyrics criticizing the educated segment of Africa's population for absorbing Western ways. Excuse-O again presents two songs in the ten- to 15-minute range occupying an entire side of the release. The 13-minute title cut is not much different from Kuti's usual excursions into Afro-funk-jazz fusion from the era, though at this point he was moving into rhythms that were more jittery and African-sounding than those he had used on many early-'70s efforts.

"Mr. Grammarticalogylisationalism Is the Boss" is his bid for the "longest word used in a song title" contest. The novelty of that title aside, it's one of the better cuts from his mid-'70s discography, with remarkably spooky, effective organ with that odd varispeed tone that sounds like it's playing on warped vinyl, a slow ominous groove, and a blunt critique of Africa's educational system.