Zombie (album)

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Zombie
Studio album by Fela Anikulapo Kuti
Released 1976
Genre Afrobeat
Length 25:28
Label Coconut
Producer Fela Kuti
Fela Anikulapo Kuti chronology
Stalemate
(1977)
Zombie
(1977)
Authority Stealing
(1980)

Zombie is a studio album by Nigerian Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti. It was released in Nigeria by Coconut Records in 1976, and in the United Kingdom by Creole Records in 1977.[1]

The album criticised the Nigerian government; and it is thought to have resulted in the murder of Kuti's mother Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, and the destruction of his commune by the military.

Critical reception[edit]

In a 1981 review, music critic Robert Christgau gave the album an "A–" and found Kuti's English lyrics to be "very political" and "associative". He said that Kuti records "real fusion music — if James Brown's stuff is Afro-American, his is American-African."[2] In a retrospective review, Allmusic's Sam Samuelson gave Zombie four-and-a-half out of five stars and called it Kuti and Africa 70's "most popular and impacting record".[3] Pitchfork Media ranked it number 90 on their list of the 100 best albums of the 1970s.[4]

Controversy and fallout[edit]

The album was a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers using the zombie metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian military. The album was a smash hit with the people and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic (a commune that Fela had established in Nigeria), during which one thousand soldiers attacked the commune. Kuti was severely beaten, and his elderly mother was thrown from a window, causing fatal injuries. The Kalakuta Republic was burned, and Kuti's studio, instruments, and master tapes were destroyed. Kuti claimed that he would have been killed if it were not for the intervention of a commanding officer as he was being beaten. Kuti's response to the attack was to deliver his mother's coffin to the main army barrack in Lagos and write two songs, "Coffin for Head of State" and "Unknown Soldier", referencing the official inquiry that claimed the commune had been destroyed by an unknown soldier.

Kuti and his band then took residence in Crossroads Hotel as the Shrine had been destroyed along with his commune. In 1978 Kuti married 27 women, many of whom were his dancers, composers, and singers to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Kalakuta Republic. Later, he was to adopt a rotation system of keeping only twelve simultaneous wives.[5] The year was also marked by two notorious concerts, the first in Accra in which riots broke out during the song "Zombie," which led to Kuti being banned from entering Ghana. The second was at the Berlin Jazz Festival after which most of Kuti's musicians deserted him, due to rumors that Kuti was planning to use the entirety of the proceeds to fund his presidential campaign.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Fela Kuti.

Original LP
  1. "Zombie" – 12:26
  2. "Mister Follow Follow" – 12:58
CD reissue
  1. "Observation Is No Crime" – 13:26
  2. "Mistake" (Live at the Berlin Jazz Festival, 1978) – 14:47

References[edit]

  1. ^ Veal, Michael E. (2000). Fela: The Life & Times of an African Musical Icon. Temple University Press. p. 296. ISBN 1566397650. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. p. 131. ISBN 0899190251. 
  3. ^ Samuelson, Sam. "Zombie - Fela Kuti". Allmusic. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Pitchfork staff (23 June 2004). "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Peter Culshaw (2004-08-15). "The big Fela". London: Observer Music Monthly. 

Further reading[edit]

Veal, Michael. Fela Kuti, composer. Coffin For Head of State / Unknown Soldier. Compact Disc. Liner notes. Los Angeles: Universal Music, 2000.

External links[edit]