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Koola Lobitos / The '69 Los Angeles Sessions


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Performer Notes
  • Recorded between 1964 & 1969. Includes liner notes by Mabinuori Kayode Idowu, Jacqueline Grandchamp-Thiam & Rikki Stein.
  • Liner Note Author: Mabinuori Kayode Idowu.
  • Recording information: Los Angeles, CA (1964-1968); Los Angeles, CA (1969).
  • A new reissue that unearths a series of previously unreleased sides recorded between 1964 and 1968 with Fela's first band, Koola Lobitos. These songs are steeped in the style of highlife jazz that was popular in African clubs, a fiery hybrid of Latin jazz, rhythm and blues, even calypso. With most of the vocals sung in his native Nigerian, the music is bubbling over with punchy brass arrangements, simmering percussion, and bass grooves that mortar the sound. Highlights include an ode to Nigerian nightlife, "Highlife Time," and "Omuti Tide," with Fela's tongue-in-cheek phrasing of "When the Saints Go Marching In" during his trumpet solo. The '69 L.A. Sessions find Fela & Nigeria '70 fleshing out the sound that would bring him acclaim and popularity. Ensconced in the knowledge of the American black struggle of the time from a female companion in Los Angeles, his approach went from bright and snappy to contemplative and hypnotic without compromising the groove. His lyrical themes became more political in scope as heard in the tune "Viva Nigeria," in which he describes the strife of Nigerian civil war. Other parts of the African struggle, which, in his eyes, closely mirrored the plight of the African-American, were explored in the musical themes of "Wayo" and "Witchcraft." A tender side is shown in the achingly beautiful "Lover," a slow groover inspired by the lover's rock style of reggae that was popular in Jamaica throughout the mid- to late 1960s. The percolating guitar lines and R&B inflected style of "Funky Horn" feeds off of James Brown's instrumental output of the late '60s. Essential listening. ~ Douglas Siwek
Professional Reviews
Mojo (Publisher) (2/02, p.104) - "...Intriguing...KOOLA gathers 6 highlife tracks from 1964-68, ranging from the almost-Caribbean via trad jazz to the nascent funk of 'Wayo'....by THE 69 LA SESSIONS [Fela] had discovered African music in California and the 10 tracks are life-affirming slabs of soul music..."
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