Open & Close (1971) / Afrodisiac (1972/1973)
- WAV / FLAC
Open & Close
An almost fully-formed Afrobeat album, Open And Close is part focused on the dancefloor, part on African liberation. The title tune is a simple exhortation to dance, with instructions on how to perform Fela's choreography. On a more serious note, "Gbagada Gbagada Gbogodo Gbogodo" tells the story of the Egba people's armed resistance to invading British colonialists. As a songwriter, Fela was more often concerned with the repressive rule of Nigeria's contemporary leaders than he was with that of their British predecessors, but here he draws out the connection between past and present. Fela dedicated the album to his mother and “His Excellency Col. I.K. Acheampong, Ghana Head of State, the first head of state I ever entertained.” And the last. Fela regarded most African heads of state as stooges of the West and with good reason. (In 1976, Acheampong would ban Fela from Ghana, fearing his revolutionary rhetoric would stir up political opposition). Originally released by EMI.
The best known song on Afrodisiac is "Jeun K’oku," a satire about gluttony (an indulgence only available to prosperous Africans). Originally recorded as a single in 1970, it had given Fela his first major hit. In Broken English, the title translates as "chop and quench," which means "eat and die" in Standard English. It is a stonking dance track. The most enduring piece, however, may prove to be the closing "Je'Nwi Temi" ("don't gag me"), a critique of the Nigerian political / military establishment and a defence of free speech. In it, Fela vows that he will always tell it like it is, no matter what. This proved to be prophetic stuff, given the police and army assaults, intended to silence him, which would kick off less than a year later (see the notes on Alagbon Close and Kalakuta Show, below). Originally released by EMI.