Friday, July 17, 2009

Fela Anikulapo Kuti

Fela Anikulapo Kuti (15 October, 1938 – 2 August, 1997), or simply Fela, was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, pioneer of afrobeat music, human rights activist, and political maverick. HMV ranked him #46 on a list of the top-100 most influential musicians of the 20th century.

Fela was born Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria, to a middle-class family. His mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, the first Nigerian woman to drive a car, was a feminist activist in the anti-colonial movement and his father, Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti, a Protestant minister and school principal, was the first president of the Nigerian Union of Teachers. His brothers, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti and Olikoye Ransome-Kuti both medical doctors, are well known in Nigeria.

Fela was sent to London in 1958 to study medicine but decided to study music instead at the Trinity College of Music. While there he formed the band Koola Lobitos, playing a style of music that he would later call afrobeat. The style was a fusion of African jazz and funk with West African highlife. In 1961, Fela married his first wife, Remilekun (Remi) Taylor, with whom he would have three children (Femi, Yeni, and Sola). In 1963, Fela moved back to Nigeria, re-formed Koola Lobitos and trained as a radio producer for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1969, Fela took the band to the United States. While there, Fela discovered the Black Power movement through Sandra Smith (now Izsadore)—a partisan of the Black Panther Party—which would heavily influence his music and political views and renamed the band Nigeria ’70. Soon, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was tipped off by a promoter that Fela and his band were in the US without work permits. The band then performed a quick recording session in Los Angeles that would later be released as The ’69 Los Angeles Sessions.

The musical style performed by Fela Kuti is called Afrobeat, which is essentially a fusion of jazz, funk, psychedelic rock, and traditional West African chants and rhythms. As Iwedi Ojinmah points out in his Article "Baba is Dead - Long Live Baba," Afrobeat also borrows heavily from the native "tinker pan" African-style percussion that Kuti acquired while studying in Ghana with Hugh Masakela, under the uncanny Hedzoleh Soundz. Afrobeat is also characterized by having vocals, and musical structure, along with jazzy, funky horn sections. The endless groove is also used, in which a base rhythm of drums, shekere, muted guitar, and bass guitar are repeated throughout the song. His band was notable for featuring two baritone saxophones, whereas most groups using this instrument only use one. This is a common technique in African and African-influenced musical styles, and can be seen in funk and hip-hop. Some elements often present in Fela's music are the call-and-response within the chorus and figurative but simple lyrics. Fela's songs were almost always over 10 minutes in length, some reaching the 20- or even 30-minute marks, while some unreleased tracks would last up to 45 minutes when performed live. This was one of many reasons that his music never reached a substantial degree of popularity outside of Africa. His songs were mostly sung in Nigerian pidgin, although he also performed a few songs in the Yoruba language. Fela's main instruments were the saxophone and the keyboards, but he also played the trumpet, guitar, and took the occasional drum solo. Fela refused to perform songs again after he had already recorded them, which also hindered his popularity outside Africa. Fela was known for his showmanship, and his concerts were often quite outlandish and wild. He referred to his stage act as the Underground Spiritual Game. Fela attempted making a movie but lost all the materials to the fire that was set to his house by the military government in power.

The American Black Power movement influenced Fela's political views. He was also a supporter of Pan-Africanism and socialism, and called for a united, democratic African republic. He was a fierce supporter of human rights, and many of his songs are direct attacks against dictatorships, specifically the militaristic governments of Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s. He was also a social commentator, and he criticized his fellow Africans (especially the upper class) for betraying traditional African culture. The African culture he believed in also included having many wives (polygyny) and the Kalakuta Republic was formed in part as a polygamist colony. He defended his stance on polygyny with the words "A man goes for many women in the first place. Like in Europe, when a man is married, when the wife is sleeping, he goes out and fucks around. He should bring the women in the house, man, to live with him, and stop running around the streets!" His views towards women are characterised by some as misogynist, with songs like "Mattress" typically cited as evidence In a more complex example, he mocks the aspiration of African women to European standards of ladyhood while extolling the values of the market woman in his song "Lady." It should be noted, though, that Fela was very open when it came to sex, as he portrayed in some of his songs, such as "Open and Close" and "Na Poi."

Bypassing editorial censorship in Nigeria's predominantly state controlled press, Kuti began in the 1970s buying advertising space in daily and weekly newspapers such as The Daily Times and The Punch in order to run outspoken political columns.Published throughout the 1970s and early 1980s under the title Chief Priest Say, these columns were essentially extensions of Kuti's famous Yabi Sessions—consciousness-raising word-sound rituals, with himself as chief priest, conducted at his Lagos nightclub. Organized around a militantly Afrocentric rendering of history and the essence of black beauty, Chief Priest Say focused on the role of cultural hegemony in the continuing subjugation of Africans. Kuti addressed a number of topics, from explosive denunciations of the Nigerian Government's criminal behavior; Islam and Christianity's exploitive nature, and evil multinationals; to deconstructions of Western medicine, Black Muslims, sex, pollution, and poverty. Chief Priest Say was cancelled, first by Daily Times then by Punch, ostensibly due to non-payment, but many commentators have speculated that the paper's respective editors were placed under increasingly violent pressure to stop publication.

Fela and sons' links

Picture gallery of Fela Kuti’s Queens


Sunday, July 12, 2009


On July 3, the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) - in alliance with fascistic dregs of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS)
and its months-long Parliamentary questioning regarding the established functioning of both Athens and Patras Indymedia - dispatched an extrajudicial
summons to the National Network for Research and Technology (EDET). In the summons, our ‘national’ telecommunications provider revokes the contract
it has signed with the company in question regarding the administration of fiber optics as concerns the National Technical University of Athens.
As it states: ‘…the subject of the contract under discussion…is OTE’s providing EDET with fiber optic network implementation services,
OTE granting EDET the right of use of the network’s fiber optics for 15 years, also providing maintenance services for the fiber optic network for 15 years,
in accordance with this contract’s specific terms.’ With the rationale that the company is not fulfilling the contract’s agreements with OTE’s German bosses
, since the network is being used by third parties without ‘research’ or ‘educational’ purposes - as determined by the Government in line with the far-right
– they threaten to take all ‘justified’ legal measures if EDET does not comply with the necessary(?) actions within 5 days.
The attack against Athens and Patras Indymedia cannot be viewed apart from the Establishment’s methodical suppression (following the recent December events)
against the broad opposition Movement that has managed to create fissures in the social fabric and public sphere acting ‘from below’, and that imposes
its presence on the social scene on its own terms. Initially, the police state took to the streets following the Establishment’s ‘advice’ and exhortations
to break up occupied areas. Towards this end, attacks (both legislative and actual) were ordered against the Movement’s working-class sectors.
The cherry on the cake of suppression is the mass pogrom against immigrants that has been underway in the city center since June.
It is not, thus, an isolated attack upon two sites of alternative information. Supreme Court of Appeal Former Chief-prosecutor Sanidas has also assisted
in this in his recent consultative ‘gift’ to his bosses regarding the revocation of privacy for blogs and sites, and the emerging curtailment of
free movement of ideas on the Internet. In hitting Indymedia, the authorities hit an entire network of independent communications and their
concerted effort at alternative information. Alternative information is our only communicative weapon in this combative front, the only channel for
social issues that attempt to define reality using dialectical terms rather than force.
In all societies, people are involved in the production and exchange of information and symbols. From the non-verbal to mediated communications,
people’s sociability is engineered by the production, propagation and administration of information – simply stated, the communications between themselves.
The latter, furthermore, could be considered as both cause and effect of the community and people’s innate tendency to rally around social frameworks.
The continuously increasing need of socialization and communications has given rise to Mass Media’s emergence and development.
It is this that contributed and continues to contribute to the formation of the ‘public sphere’.
The Internet is the most recent means of mass communications. It is the most recent variable in the formation of this public sphere.
In Internet communities, a radical renegotiation of the public sphere is taking place. In ever-greater numbers, people are addressing themselves
to such kinds of communities – and this cannot be viewed apart from contemporary society’s speed of production, which limits the time and space
of social gatherings. Ultimately, communications are internationalized on a wide scale, as both time and space have been negated.
Thus we are led to a cockeyed reformation of the public sphere and to the creation of a place of public dialogue (the Internet) –
where communicative and dialectical ‘gagging’ of socially excluded sections of the international community necessitates the creation
of a new class of technologically privileged administrators of communications. Taking the lead in the Establishment’s effort is their
‘most stable relation’ OTE. This is the same company that was bought out by the German Deutsche Telekom (that last year caused enormous
scandal in Germany over its widespread telephone surveillance and subsequent violation of communications privacy) – and which was mixed up
in the mire of recent scandals and corruption, see Siemens, kick-backs and C41 system ‘supervision’ (not that we expected otherwise from those who
control the country’s telecommunications). Let them close OTE, therefore, and clean the place of their putrid stench – not Indymedia.
The moves to silence Athens and Patras Indymedia do not intimidate us. One way or another, alternatives exist for their continued functioning.
Despite this, we can place it within a wider communications and essential war that the State and political and economic authorities have declared
against society. To the contrary, rather than intimidating us with this recent action, bourgeois democracy and its crutches (business and political)
have demonstrated how very much they fear a Movement that has, for some time, rejected truce in the social-class war.
A multi-formed and broad Movement that – upon terms of equality, anti-hierarchy and collectives - tries to reshape social reality from below,
whose dynamic is not constrained by barricades erected in fiber optics, but will demolish them, – and which will become tangible in the streets and
through everyday direct action. Whatever bourgeois rights you may institute that you may then trample upon, such as the wretched ‘right to information’
at issue, the broad opposition Movement will continue to administer itself and defend itself as it, and it alone, chooses.
Participants in alternative information, in solidarity

Collectives of and

for further information

-στα ελληνικά

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Last Drive

The Last Drive is a Greek garage revival rock group which formed in 1983 and broke up in 1995. In January 2007, the band announced on their website that they got together again for some gigs. They are regarded by many as the most important Greek rock group of the 80's and one of the most important and influential groups of Greek rock history.
In 1986 they released their full-length LP album, called Underworld Shakedown, which caused a sensation both for its content and the quality of production (by the Drive themselves) which was unusually high for the standards of the independent scene of that time. The LP contained covers of garage standards like Misirlou and Night of the phantom, as well as their own material.
Their LP Blood Nirvana, which was released in 1990, marked the change in their sound, a fact that let down some of their hardcore garage fans and ended their cooperation with Music Maniac. At this time they were considered a part of the "explosion" of the hard rock/indie Greek scene that took part during the early 90's. Thus, they started becoming widely popular among rock fans in Greece, and on the same year they were voted "band of the year" by the readers of the leading music magazine, Pop & Rock.
The Last Drive - Blue moon - LIVE @ 14ο Αντιρατσιστικό Φεστιβάλ στο Πάρκο Ειρήνης στο Ρέντη, στις 3 Ιουλίου 2009. --- Blue moon (1986 - Underworld Shakedown LP) Blue moon

The Last Drive - Misirlou - LIVE @ 14ο Αντιρατσιστικό Φεστιβάλ στο Πάρκο Ειρήνης στο Ρέντη, στις 3 Ιουλίου 2009


The Last Drive - Underworld Shakedown(Hitch Hyke 1986)
Password: PVAcblog

The Last Drive - Blood Nirvana(Hitch Hyke 1990)
part 1 part 2
Password: PVAcblog
Heavy Liquid (Happy Crasher Records 2009)