Often assumed to be inspired by the February 1977 army attack on Kalakuta Republic, according to sleeve designer Ghariokwu Lemi, “Sorrow Tears And Blood” was written in response to the South African regime’s crushing of the Soweto uprising in June 1976, which Lemi and Fela had watched unfold on television. The album was among the first of those Fela released following the destruction of Kalakuta Republic. An early sleeve design used a photograph showing Fela onstage in the aftermath of the outrage, his left leg still in plaster. He dedicated the album “to the memory of those who were beaten, raped, tortured or injured” during the Kalakuta attack. The police and army invariably leave behind them “sorrow, tears and blood,” Fela sings, and the backing vocalists respond, “dem regular trademark.” Decca refused to release the album, fearing government reprisals. Fela responded by setting up Kalakuta Records and making the disc the label’s debut release.
Standard black vinyl LP, released on August 19, 2014 as part of the Knitting Factory Records re-issues, comes with a download card.