Good Overview of the Nigerian Scene at the End of the 1970s
Michael Sean | Seattle, WA - US | 01/04/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"From filmmaker Jeremy Marre's 14-part series of world music documentaries, "Beats of the Heart," this installment focuses on the various styles that make up the Nigerian pop scene. Produced in 1980, it features vintage live performances and interviews with several African artists. King Sunny Adé had yet to release "Juju Music," the smash album that would make him an international success, but he was already a superstar in his homeland. We see him playing live at a house party for the King of Lagos. One of the originators of the juju sound, I.K. Dairo, is also featured in a look at his pioneering work in both African music and worship. There's an interesting peek into the recording studio with the Lijadu Sisters as they work on tracks for their album. The twins give the perspective of female artists in the music business, and they talk about the hardships of working for the British-owned Decca record label. Fellow Decca artist and Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti is briefly shown, surrounded by his 27 wives, as he discusses his role as an African musician. We hear a snippet of his "Shuffering and Shmiling," but there is no live footage (see Shanachie's "Fela Live" DVD for that). Veteran African artist Sonny Okosun is interviewed, and we see him working on material for his "Power to the People" record as well as performing it live at a free concert. At only an hour long and over two decades old, this program serves as a dated but still intriguing snapshot of Nigerian music. For anyone venturing into the world of African rhythms, it will provide a good introduction to the spectrum of styles (highlife, juju, Afropop, etc.) as well as some vintage footage of a few of the greats. The DVD has chapter stops, but no extra features over the VHS edition. The disc is presented in full frame as it was originally filmed for TV."
outsider01 | San Francisco, Ca United States | 08/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"King Sunny Ade playing for royalty. Fela Kuti at home discussing Nigeria's political situation amid his many wives. Sonny Okosun decked out like a mod doing doughnuts on a motorcycle. Amazing.A snapshot of Nigeria in the 70's. Nigerian pop stars as well as an introduction to lesser known, equally great musicians. One of the best documentaries I have seen. Do yourself a favor and buy this DVD."
Definitely worth watching
outsider01 | 07/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This video is indeed worth checking out. You get a nice look at the backstreets of Lagos, Nigeria, and then travel up into the rural north of Muslim Nigeria. From a blind urban folk minstrel to earthy electric guitar dance music, to traditional village music, this video will transport you to a time and place you may have never imagined. I've enjoyed this video many times over the years."
Konkombe: Nigerian Music Time Capsule
Chris McGowan | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | 08/06/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Early one morning during the annual Argungu Festival in arid northern Nigeria, thousands of bare-chested fishermen carrying nets and gourds rush down the banks of a narrow river. They splash and crowd its muddy waters, while blue-robed musicians glide by in long canoes, beating hypnotically on talking drums to lure the fish to the surface. It is an ancient ritual of the Hausa people that reaches back to the roots of both music and religion. Meanwhile, in a cramped apartment in downtown Lagos, political dissident and Afrobeat star Fela Kuti sits regally on a couch, clad only in bikini briefs and surrounded by three of his 27 wives. Kuti, whose previous home was burned to the ground by a vengeful Nigerian military, speaks forcefully about how music in his country must be used for revolution. Then the jazz- and James Brown-influenced international star lets fly a few funky riffs on his saxophone and sings some lines from his latest protest song.
Both these scenes are from "Konkombe: The Nigerian Pop Music Scene," one of 14 videos in British filmmaker Jeremy Marre's ambitious "Beats of the Heart" music documentary series. In each episode--be it about Jamaica, Brazil, China, South Africa or Nigeria--Marre wanders off the beaten path and into the vivid daily rhythms of these lands, into the most unusual and fascinating situations. We witness both folk ritual and modern concert, street musician and pop star, and visit musicians in recording studios and at home. Filmed between 1977 and 1984, the series is a world-music fan's dream, a beautifully photographed and recorded chronicle of many of the planet's top musicians. It is also a gripping look at the often difficult political and economic conditions in these parts of the world, and shows how popular music plays an important role there, and indeed in every country, in keeping people's spirits alive and communicating information not controlled by "official" channels.
"Konkombe" is one of best "Beats of the Heart" episodes, and is a striking snapshot of Nigerian music in 1979, of gifted musicians like Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Sonny Okoson, I. K. Dairo and Ebenezer Obey, who were on the verge of gaining world renown. And, as with the better episodes in the series, "Konkombe" immerses us in the local societies--with all their joys, sorrows and contradictions--that give birth to such engrossing music."