» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Fela Ktui
Underground Spiritual Game
Quannum Projects

Rating: 8/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Where have all the great men gone? Here in the US we just went through what many called "the most important election of our lifetime," and yet what were the choices? I don't number among those that say it was a "lesser of two evils" kind of decision, because neither George Bush nor John Kerry are evil in any real sense of the word; evil is a word that should be reserved for people like Stalin and Mengele and Pol Pot. I would say, instead, that we were faced with a choice between two sub-par and mediocre politicians. While they both had different views on issues and different ways they would lead, neither was going to go down in history as a spectacular leader. No one is going to long for the days while they were in charge. There were no Teddy Roosevelts, no Abraham Lincolns.

This greatness deficiency is not limited to politics. Who would you call the great artists of our times? In the Information Age, the Media Age, who is it that qualifies as truly great? Nothing immediately comes to mind. In this era, we choose to celebrate the mediocre, the flashy, the superficial. We glorify that which is empty, fleeting, meaningless.

Yes, this is all a bit cynical. But after listening to this Fela Kuti album, The Underground Spiritual Game, I can't help but long for something even remotely comparable in my own era.

Fela Kuti made incendiary music. He fought an authoritarian Nigerian government through his art and his deeds. The music he put out bothered the regime so much that they actually sent the army to take him out - which didn't stop him, but, in fact, inspired him to keep going further. His story is incredible: far-reaching, and a lot more than I can cover in a few hundred words here. I would encourage anyone that doesn't know more about him to take some time and find out more.

What you will likely come away with, besides awe and admiration for the man, is that, sadly, that it is almost unimaginable that someone like him could even exist in today's world.

You will also want to hear as much of his music as possible. The Underground Spiritual Game is as good a place to start as any. This is a mix CD, put together by Chief Xcel of Blackalicious. The songs aren't altered or re-done - just ten tracks that Chief Xcel picked out from Fela's body of work to give you a solid sense of what Fela is all about.

With The Underground Spiritual Game you get the mixture of funk and jazz and traditional rhythms that make up this distinctive sound he created known as Afrobeat. For a neophyte, it's a great entry point to his work. For a fan, it's a nice mix to have, just to get to listen to these songs in this order.

Maybe if enough of us hear this, we can all take time to think about what it means to strive for greatness, and not to just wallow in mediocrity. Maybe we can remember that great art can be transcendent, and lift everyone to someplace better than where they are. Maybe I'll send a copy to George Bush.

Reviewed by Dan Filowitz
Dan Filowitz is Toronto-born, New-Jersey-raised, Indiana-University-educated, and Chicago-residing. In addition to his Lost At Sea contributions, Dan is a senior staff writer for political humor site TalkStation.com and the president of ChicagoImprovAnarchy (The CIA) a Chicago-based improv theatre company. We are not mentioning the 9-5 corporate job. Apparently, Dan does not sleep much. Dan Filowitz is the perfect dinner party guest - fun, witty, intelligent, with wide-ranging interests, ecclectic tastes and a winning smile. Just make sure you have coffee available.

See other reviews by Dan Filowitz



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