Nigerian superstar Fela, who sings, plays tenor sax, and fuses funk & jazz with traditional African music, was inspired by Bird, Marley and Miles. New York Times critic Jon Pareles described his 1981 Paris concert video, f... more »eaturing exotic West African dances performed by 15 of his wives, as hypnotic, cutting and defiant ... one of the ten greatest videos ever. 57 minutes.« less
"A great performance by Fela and the band, but I was seriously disappointed by this DVD. The earlier reviews are of the VHS version, which perhaps is a more forgiving format for a recording of this poor quality.Yes the music is great, but the sound cuts in and out and the video looks murky. Also, the stage lighting is so dim that you can barely see the horn section, the background singers, or the percussion players. As a result, the cameras focus strictly on what is happening at the front of the stage, basically just Fela and the dancers. It makes the whole experience feel flattened and two-dimensional. You start wondering just what is going on back there in the dark.Worth buying only as a historical artifact."
Being on DVD doesn't Help this weak sounding Fela Happening
Steven Parrish | Boulder, CO United States | 11/25/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"How they could ever rerelease this great "video" release of an obviously great Fela show with the same audio problems. Makes this an extreme rip off for lovers of not only Fela,but for what the format of DVD can do to clean up hurting analog releases. I recomend the 1984 festival DVD and hope for some quality in the archives to be released soon.The 81 DVD is for extreme Fela lovers only. Trust Me, the audio will bum you out........"
Kinda good kinda bad
Philip Kavan | Western Massachusetts | 01/14/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I read the above reviews regarding the sound quality and thought "I love Fela; I'm sure I'll enjoy it anyway." So I bought it. Well, never having had the opportunity to see him live, I was happy to see him in action; however, the quality is so horrible I can't imagine watching it again. Not only is the sound muffled, but the camera operator constantly cuts away from what is interesting. There is one segment in particular in which Fela is really getting loose, dancing like some kind of karate rooster, and the camera keeps cutting to the friggin' audience. Man! I imagine if you're into Fela as much as I am, you'll probably wind up buying it anyway. No harm."
Transy Trippy Funky Afro Dance Grooves
Eddie Landsberg | Tokyo, Japan | 12/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ever try to imagine whats going on on those tripped out FELA grooves...? When you listen, you imagine a tribal gathering, perhaps even war rally... with fire, dance, soulful rhythms, chief Fela at the helm... This is not far from the truth. While the video is set in 1981 Paris, the energy transcends all time places and cultures. - - Felas stage presence and charisma are mind blowing. Though the band often sounds like a symphony of chaos, great musical moments occur. The depth of Felas solos are easy to miss amidst the synergy. His dancers gyrate on the floor answering his vocalizing in unison... he prowls the stage bare chested with tribal face paints saxophone in hand - - dances, soloing, rarely standing still, the horns accenting the rhythms. - - This IS a FELA album brought to life and an opportunity to look into the eyes of a firey legend and see the sounds that were and are uniquely his and part of an era. Known as THE BLACK PRESIDENT and THE AFRICAN JAMES BROWN, for sure he lived up to his reputation on the night this video was shot. A MUST HAVE is an understatement."
Adam Mizelle (adammizelle@earthlink | Iowa City, Iowa | 10/20/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"True-blue Fela fans must buy this video. Be warned that the jacket lists the tunes wrong, listing Original Sufferhead as one of the songs. It isn't there. You wouldn't miss it, as the versions of Army Arrangement and Power Show surpass any recorded version you can find. The first tune is merely listed as Instrumental Solo, and I suspect from discographies I have seen that this is actually Movement of the People Political Statement No. 1, which is currently available on no CD. It's an excellent track, esp. Lekan Animashaun's baritone sax solo."