Album review: Various artists, Red Hot + Fela (Knitting Factory)


Purists will object to the very idea of covering the late Fela Kuti’s songs, but the originals can outstay their welcome. Happily, it turns out that their angular riffs and edgy lyrics have real staying power, as was demonstrated on Red, Hot + Riot a decade ago and now again here with these often radical reinterpretations of the Nigerian legend’s best work.

Even though the album comes in at nearly 80 minutes, surprisingly it doesn’t feel too long. This is largely because it doesn’t get stuck in an Afrobeat rut. “Lady” and “Zombie” take on a whole different meaning reinterpreted by women and the lounge-soul taming of “Go Slow” is exquisite.

Angélique Kidjo, tUnE-yArDs, Nneka and many others should congratulate themselves. Fela would approve.