Album: Original Broadway Cast, Fela! (Knitting Factory)

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The Independent Culture

Fela!, scheduled to open in a week or two at the National Theatre, should be a rousing experience, if this recording by the Broadway cast is any indication.

Musically it's right on the money, the Afrobeat ensemble Antibalas capturing the drive and assertive energy of Fela Kuti's original pieces. Jim Lewis and Bill T Jones have ingeniously managed to sequence and adapt those pieces to tell the story of Fela's revolutionary life, using his characteristic call- and-response style to punch home the circumstances of his protest against the endemic corruption of Nigerian politics – during which he attempted to establish the independent Kalakuta Republic at his Lagos nightclub The Shrine, triggering repressive violence in response. It's an extraordinary story, delivered here in suitably flamboyant, extrovert style.

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