Noise For Vendor Mouth (1975) / Everything Scatter (1975)


Noise For Vendor Mouth
The title track likens politicians to street hawkers and hustlers, and caused considerable controversy. So did the B-side, “Mattress,” though for different reasons. In the song, Fela likens a woman’s role to that of a mattress, there to support and comfort her man. Fela’s espousal of traditional gender roles, and his approval of polygamy, struck a discordant note with some listeners, who accused him of being “anti women.” Fela was Fela and a man of his time, but he was never hostile to women. As he often acknowledged, his two greatest political influences were women: his mother, who had been an early champion of women’s rights in Nigeria, and Sandra Izsadore, the black-rights activist he began a relationship with in the US in 1969. Each opened his mind, between them turning a playboy into a political revolutionary. Originally released by Afrobeat.

Everything Scatter
The lyric of "Everything Scatter" portrays Nigeria’s conflicted society through metaphor and microcosm: an argument supposedly taking place among the passengers on a bus going past Kalakuta Republic. One of the passengers voices the military regime’s accusation that Fela and his followers are political troublemakers, prostitutes, weed smokers and hooligans. Another person defends Fela, saying it is better to be a troublemaker than a sell-out. The rest of the passengers take sides and pandemonium ensues, causing the driver to take the bus to a police station. “Uniform start to yab,” sings Fela, “(saying) bring me the Fela people, make I lock am and charge am for court, before I shut am big mouth for am, before I hand am to mosquito.” Fela’s use of “mosquito” refers to the malarial swamps close to which some Nigerian prisons were sited and also to that name being used to describe policemen. Originally released by Coconut.

Noise For Vendor Mouth
Fela Kuti & Africa 70