Fela Ransome Kuti Lagos Baby: 1963-69

Lagos Baby brings together Fela Ransome Kuti’s earliest recordings in Nigeria and Britain for an absorbing prologue to Afrobeat. Vampisoul has put together an engrossing set of liner notes detailing Fela’s years in swinging London and his unsuccessful stints as a jazzman and highlife musician. Interestingly, he plays trumpet throughout this set, which he would abandon by the ’70s. It’s a shame because he’s a better trumpet player than a saxophonist. Another great aspect of this set is hearing Tony Allen find his groove, gradually adopting techniques that would propel Afrobeat in the decade to come. Nevertheless, the sound quality is challenging. While this is a virtue for some, it would be doubtful that you could EQ these tracks sufficiently for dance floor play. The tantalising proto-Afrobeat of a recording done live at Fela’s Afrospot club in 1966 is marred by an apparent inability to clean up the worn-out source material. Between the challenges of sound quality and at least a dozen flat out dull songs, this is for collectors only. (Vampisoul)