elbowing fela
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Fela Kuti - "O D O O [edit]". Okay, screw Bono. This is the egomaniac I want at the head of my political movement. Nobody would be poor, nobody would be hungry, nobody would be unhappy. Racism: poof! Sexism: pow! Homophobia: zap! Instead - cowbell, chumchumstrum of guitar, brass, "ga ga goo goo". We'd build buildings that sway to music, everyone would know how to surf, love would be the easiest thing in the world. I guess the world would have a black president, too, which is worth a shot.

The best part is maybe that apathy would be annhiliated. How can you be apathetic with those horns tooting at you? If Fela looks you in the eyes, you'll take a bullet for him. If this Revolutionary Army comes by, even the tories will somersault into position, take up arms. Forget white wristbands - we would all get hot air balloons, every colour in the rainbow, floral patterns and cool modernist stripes, and our balloons would march (okay, bob) to the seats of government, nudging and bumping, so insistent and so glad that people would for sure pay attention. Cause even George Bush couldn't turn down Fela Kuti, "O D O O", truth, compassion, and a hundred million hot-air ballons.

[buy Black President: The Best Best of Fela Kuti, or one of his 77 albums]


Elbow - "Mexican Standoff". Just when you've given up on British guitar rock, Elbow comes along and reminds us why they were always the most interesting of Radiohead's children. Sure, we're a long way from the indie-prog suites of their debut, but this album's got a spark that at times bursts into flame. Guy Garvey's feelings don't just prance about over silvery piano-chords -- they punch holes in the walls.

"Mexican Standoff" begins with one of my favourite possible recorded sounds - a yell from the back of a room. And then we're off, clapgalloping down a hill, headlong into... what? A thicket? A moor? An army of Moors?

I admit that these are clumsy metaphors, but how else do you articulate the majesty of this song's ending moments? The electric guitar that buzzes like shields catching the light; percussion like horse-hooves; the rising warcry chant. Garvey may be nervous but he isn't going to be cowed into spitefulness. Instead he makes his band radiant, triumphant. He'll nab the princess by the sureness of his sword, the dazzle of his smile, the sweetness of his song.

I assume it ends as it does because Elbow won, so they don't need to strut around any more. To the bedroom!

[pre-order for September]

Posted by Sean at August 1, 2005 5:00 AM

Ahem. Browsed and read the whole main page. Enjoyed it.

You have no idea how difficult it is to find music like this one in the city, state, and for that matter, country I live (MX)

So... Thank you, and I´m a faithful addict from now on. >:*)

Posted by Talya at August 1, 2005 3:28 AM

'mexican standoff' is fantastic. thanks alot!

Posted by jez at August 1, 2005 12:13 PM

Would we also get to have 70 wives?

Posted by Jay Watts III at August 1, 2005 6:14 PM

Hi Sean, we participated in a MeFi mix exchange once (I'm p-lo, if'n you remember), and I actually still listen to your mix on a fairly regular basis (unlike the mix that I made for said exchange). Anyway, just wanted to let you know how incredibly jazzed I am that you are doing this, sharing your freakin' great taste with everyone (especially, you know, me).

Posted by bridgie at August 1, 2005 7:07 PM

Thank you Talya, thank you jez. I am dumbstruck that there aren't more of you with something to say because both of these songs are SO GOOD I WANT TO BE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH THEM.

Jay - YES!!!!!!!

bridgie - It's lovely to hear from you, and to be so flattered! Given how those mixes kind of ended up ploink into the void, it's really really really great to hear that mine still gets the occasional spin. I'd say that yours does too but I'm afraid I stripped it to mp3s when I moved across the pond and now it just appears in digital form. :) I do have a bone to pick with you, though, because I think for some reason you owe me a CD... It's been years, so I don't remember (or dwell on) the circumstances. Stick around, please!

Posted by Sean at August 2, 2005 9:27 AM

Oh, and good post, by the way! Should have mentioned that earlier. The group Beans from Vancouver did a live ensemble cover version of Kuti's "Zombie" a couple of years back that I believe is available for download (along with a bunch of other stuff) from the Hive Studios website.

Posted by Jay Watts III at August 2, 2005 12:32 PM

okay, i'd like to retract my previous statement. 'mexican standoff' is not fantastic.


Posted by jez, again at August 4, 2005 9:37 PM


Sean, ever heard Nomo? Interesting group, with lots of cross-connections to His Name Is Alive and some of the other bands around here. They do a Fela-based thing that is just excellent, esp. live. I'll see if I can drop you something.

(I was in on that swap too, and I got my Bridgie CD, so nyah.)

Posted by Anonymous at August 6, 2005 2:35 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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