This DVD set contains 2 DVD's previously released with the Fela Kuti anthology by Wrasse Records. Here's my write-up on each disc:
Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense
Although Music is The Weapon is generally viewed as the definitive documentary on the life and music of Fela Kuti, Teacher don't Teach Me Nonsense is a high quality documentary from 1985 that contains both an up close interview with the creator of Afrobeat and fragments of his legendary gig at the famous Glastonbury festival in the year 1984. This documentary is available as part of the first part of a Fela Kuti Anthology detailing his entire musical career. Two more installments will be released.
Fela seems calmer and less militant as in Music is The Weapon, but tells us interesting stories about his use of Pidgin (Broken English) for his lyrics, his spiritual awakening through contact with the Black Power movement in the US and the corruption in Africa he so vividly denounced. The film is about half music and half documentary. The documentary is interspersed with fragments from the gig beginning with Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense and then Confusion Break Bone (they were performed at the festival in opposite order). There is English subtitling translating Fela's pidgin. So this DVD is at present our only chance to catch footage on DVD of this gig of Fela and his Egypt 80 at his/their prime. The only known footage of Fela performing percussion, which is still the heart of African music, is included.
As expected the BBC dug up some interesting old footage from their dusted shelves that includes speeches by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X that accompany Fela's story. "Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense" was shown by the BBC just after Fela's famous prison sentence in 1984 and may have played a part in his release through influencing public opinion.
Fela Live in Berlin
The DVD, that comes with the Fela Kuti Anthology part 2, features the opening act of the prestigious Berlin Jazz Festival of 1978. It was broadcasted both on German television as well as live on Nigerian television. This is a transfer from old television material to DVD. That being said, I think it's the best live footage of Fela Kuti on DVD I've ever seen (and I've seen it all). You get an excellent view of the musicians and back-up singers as well as of Fela. The sound quality is everything you could ask for of a transfer to DVD.
This is a seated gig and the band is completely surrounded by public. The festival is kicked off by a man giving an introduction in German with no subtitling provided. Then Quincy Joppes introduces all members of the Africa 70 band including a youngish looking Tony Allen and Lekan Animashuan (still playing in Egypt 80 today!). After a Black Power salute the band plays four songs, lasting almost 90 minutes in total.
We all know Afrobeat is a male dominated music style. But the true gem of this DVD are Fela's Dancing Queens who appear during the last song. Seeing these traditionally clad African ladies move their bodies to Fela's sax solo's and Tony Allen's drum solo's is going to blow your mind, as it has blown mine. Every one of the seven dancers featured has her own unique style of dancing and some of them make such sexual movements that I'm surprised the footage wasn't censored by the German television! The only con of the dvd is that the credits appearing at the end and obscure the dancers for about a minute or so. So yes, the ladies steal the show!