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October 02, 1987 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-02

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4

Page 8 -The Michigan Daily-Friday, October 2, 1987
Records

Fela Anikulapo Kuti
Teacher Don't Teach Me
Nonsense
Virgin
The mysterious Fela Kuti has
returned. He graces his latest album
cover brandishing a glittering tenor
saxophone adorned with traditional
Nigerian tribal paint. The look in
his eyes is one of pain, anger, and
rebellion. This album cover is a
seething symbol of Fela's past four
years of oppression that is
synonymous with that of Blacks
worldwide, still inexplicably
chained to the pillars of the white
man's government.
Teacher Don't Teach Me
Nonsense is Fela's comeback
conquest, a beautiful album which
reveals the personal and political

tragedy he has experienced during
his recent four year hiatus from the
music world. The album i s
produced by contemporary African
music master Wally Badarou (of
Celluloid Records fame), who
injects the disc with a sleek,
polished sound - perfect for Fela's
rich, commanding vocals.
On "Look and Laugh" Fela tells
the horror story of his defused
campaign to run for political office
in his homeland, Nigeria. His
campaign ended when he was
beaten, arrested, and jailed o n
trumped up charges of armed
robbery; his mother was murdered
by Nigerian police.-The title of this
song is clearly a sarcastic swipe at
the Nigerian government, as are the
lyrics: "Dem burn my house/All
my property/Beat beat me/Kill my
mama/I must look and laugh/Dem
charge me for armed robbery/I must

look and laugh."
The instrumental version of
"Look and Laugh" features Fela's
25 piece band intertwining a variety
of swirling rhythms. Fela calls this
luscious blend of sounds "Afro-
beat," a fresh, syncopated pro-
gression into streams of jazz, funk,
reggae, and African music. Whale

portantly, the government con-
trolled educational system which
ignores the culture of the Black
African and teaches "only
democracy/ Demonstration of
craze/Why for Africa?/ Poor men
dem cry."
Teacher Don't Teach Me
Nonsense finds Fela Kuti un-
leashing a venomous barrage of his
unique "Afrobeat" musicianship
which may take us all a step closer
to this artist's great mystery and
hardships.
-Todd Shanker
The Mercy Seat
The Mercy Seat
Slash
What a fine idea! Get a young
Black woman to sing leads for a
white punk-gospel group. Dress her
all in gold lame so she looks real
hot. Unfortunately, in this case it
doesn't work.
Wonder what I'm referring to?
Gordon Gano, of the Violent
Femmes, started the Mercy Seat
soon after commercial pseudo
success with the Femmes' second
album. Perhaps it should be noted
that Gano is a preacher's offspring.
Nonetheless, so is this reviewer.
The awesome power, the far-reaching
joy and emotion, and the sheer gut-
wrenching pull of Black gospel is
something that has never ceased to
amaze and intrigue me (as well as

sending me spinning across the
room). If Gano could incorporate
that power into the monster he's
created, well, we would certainly
have another story to tell here.
Zena Von Heppinstall is the lead
vocalist, and maybe she's got good
pipes - we can give her the benefit
of the doubt. Whether or not she
does, she's hurried at a frantic pace
throughout the vast majority of
material, which is performed in that
classic Gano/Femmes genre. She
sounds like a cow in a herd being
pushed through the factory on the

way to slaughter. One exception to
this rule is "Mother Talking," a
fairly slow, quiet piece. It doesn't
shine, but it doesn't hurt. At least.
-VJ. Beauchamp
Michigan Daily
ARTS
763-0379

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Omabuwa on congas and George
Kassim on shekere provide a
feverish rhythm while Fela's
transient tenor sax solos slash
through the instrumentation with
crystalline purity and effervescent
emotion.
The funky rhythm on the title
combines a killer bass line with
crisp, airborne guitar licks by
Clifford Itoje (formerly of King
Sunny Ade's Ju Ju Band). Fela's
sizzling vocals divebomb the
listener with thoughts on Nigeria's
corrupt government, and most im-

WITH
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-Associated Press
Tooting His Own Horn
Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, a Democratic presidential
challenger for 1988, plays trumpet as he Joins members of the Boston
Pops Orchestra at a fundraiser for his campaign in Boston Tuesday night.
He does not play as well as Fela.

.-

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