Yesterday, Knitting Factory Records released Fela Kuti’s the Best of Black President Pt. 2 which is an extensive collection of the legendary Afrobeat pioneer’s music ranging from 1971’s “Black Man’s Cry” to 1992’s “Underground System”. This release is part of Knitting Factory’s ongoing commitment to make Fela Kuti’s music available to the public.
The above artwork for “Best of Black President Pt 2” was revived by a Columbus ex-pat Zach Jaeger . Mr. Jaeger has worked on several of Knitting Factory’s Fela efforts including Fela: Live In Detroit 1986, and the Ginger Baker compiled Fela: Vinyl Box Set 2 . I talked to Zach about how one goes from taking photos for Columbus Metal Band Teeth of the Hydra to working on important Fela Kuti releases and more.
How long have you been working on the Fela Kuti reissues?
It’s been a little over 4 years now. The beginning phases were a little slow as far as compiling art, information, and data so I don’t really think it jumped off until 2010. It’s been non-stop since then.
For “Live in Detroit 1986” you used actual tickets from the show, and posters? What approach did you take when utilizing those objects?
We weren’t sure what we were going to do with that once we got it (art wise). We were working on having a TDK master cassette tape that the concert was recorded on being cleaned up (including blending the split where the engineer had to physically flip the cassette mid concert to continue recording). I was starting to concept the art when we received the poster and ticket stub from the actual show. It made perfect sense to make the poster the cover and re-appropriate the ticket to be the back of the record. When I found out that a TDK-SA90 cassette tape was used to record the show I went through a huge box of cassettes I had and found one. I brought it in and scanned it and adjusted everything to fit the liner notes. Where all the info about the cassette would be I changed to reflect all the technical info about the 1986 recording. I wanted to do something only analog audio nerds could really respect, I am one. The packaging even had to be approved by TDK, they loved it.
From the press release:
Producers Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Will & Jada Pinkett Smith, and Ruth & Stephen Hendel are pleased to announce that Grammy Award-winning recording artist Michelle Williams, of Destiny’s Child fame, will join the national tour of the hit Award-winning Broadway musical Fela! beginning when the multi-city engagement kicks off at Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC on January 29 and travels to Detroit, Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami, Schenectady, Memphis, Dallas, Cleveland, and Los Angeles (full tour schedule is listed below). Williams will play the role of Sandra Isadore, activist and love interest to Fela Kuti.
“I am thrilled to join the cast of Fela!,” said Michelle Williams, “This musical journey is one that I’ve wanted to be a part of since first seeing it on stage in 2008. The sounds, the passion, and the politics of Fela Kuti have long intrigued me and speak to my heart. I am simply honored.”
dates after the jump
tUnE-yArDs, ‘Questlove’, Angelique Kidjo and Akua Naru have remade Fela Kuti’s ” Lady” to help raise money and awareness for the inaugural (RED) RUSH TO ZERO which is a 10 day campaign (June 1st-June 10th) which aims to eliminate transmission of HIV from Mother’s to babies among other efforts to help deliver an AIDS Free Generation by 2015, a critical milestone in the fight against AIDS. For more info about Red Rush visit here.
The tUne-yArDs & Questlove led remake of “Lady” is the first single off of (RED) Hot + FELA, a compilation that pays tribute to Fela Kuti that will be released on Knitting Factory Records.
The track’s producer, Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, said, “I wanted to reclaim ‘Lady’ for women in the world today, particularly African women, who will have an important role in ending the AIDS epidemic there. I was so happy to have the powerful Angelique Kidjo pour her soul into it, and then rapper Akua Naru wrote a raw, intense verse that perfectly extended and completed our vision of the song.”
OkayAfrica will have behind the scenes footage of the creation of this remake Monday.
I reviewed the latest Fela Kuti release this week in the Other Paper. The funny thing is that the artwork was done by a Columbus ex-pat and CCAD Grad Zach Jaeger. I grew up with Zach and he told me that he was working on this when I ran into him at SXSW. He has lived in New York for awhile so this fact slipped my mind until he posted this on his tumblr today.
FELA KUTI “LIVE IN DETROIT 1986”
This just came out last Tuesday and is a really phenomenal album! I’ve been working on Fela art for over 3 years now, reviving all of the album art for re-release. This however is the first “new” record I was able to work on. We manage to get a scan of the actual poster and ticket stub for this show and used it in the packaging. The inside of the digi-pack is an adjusted version of the actual TDK tap used to record this show (I just so happened to have one of these tapes with the jacket). Although this is a pretty simple package and layout it’s one of my favorites I’ve done to date.
You can pick up a copy of this amazing album here!
listen to a song off Live in Detroit 1986 after the jump.
On May 8th, New York’s Knitting Factory Records presents the release of Live In Detroit, 1986, the first new Fela Kuti material to be issued since his final studio album, Underground System, in 1992.
Listen to an excerpt of “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense” from Live In Detroit, 1986
More info after the jump: