Nearly every one of MCA's twofer reissues of the best albums in Fela Kuti's discography is worthwhile, and this pairing of 1980's I.T.T. and 1982's ORIGINAL SUFFER HEAD is no exception. By the early '80s Fela had already honed his intensely polyrhythmic Afrobeat sound to perfection, and these two recordings feature all of the extended vamps, roiling rhythms, searing horns, call-and-response vocals, and political invective he was known for.
ORIGINAL SUFFERHEAD marks the debut of Fela's Egypt 80 band, an ensemble that continued the thread of Fela's earlier albums while adding an increasing musical complexity. As is the case with much of Fela's work, the lyrics here address the political injustices of Nigeria at the time, satirizing public officials while commanding the people to get up/stand up. But the real revolutionary tenor of this music comes through in its sprawling grooves, whether on the relentlessly driving "Original Suffer Head," the chill, jazzy "Power Show," or the roiling, polyphonal "I.T.T. Pt. 1 & 2."