on 8 August 2012
The only con about this CD-set is that the sound quality is not on the level of a professional recording. But for a bootleg (it was recorded off of a bootleg) it's actually pretty good. There's a hum in between songs when Fela introduces his songs, but the hum gets drowned in Egypt 80's big band musical swirl as soon as the music starts. This CD is from Fela's Egypt 80 period, where Jazz takes precedence over Funk and the compositions are LONG (and therefore less accessible than the Africa 70 songs used in the Fela! Musical). The great thing about the CD is that it was recorded shortly after Fela's release from bogus prison charges in 1986. It captures the enthusiasm of the crowd who were happy that justice prevailed and the enthusiasm of the Afrobeat King who was happy to be free again and able to resume his musical career. A few short notes about the songs:
JUST LIKE THAT
Serves as a warming-up. Want to hear Fela rap? This is the song to listen to.
CONFUSION BREAK BONE
One of Fela's longest (40 minutes!) and most complicated compositions. It sounds like several different compositions, overlapping in spaces. This slower tempo song needs repeated listening to get into. Fela's only recorded percussion is a definitive plus.
TEACHER DON'T TEACH ME NONSENSE
This is the party song of the set. You can imagine Egypt 80's dancers shaking their you-know-what's to this rhythm. Great Jazzy horn solo's.
BEASTS OF NO NATION
The most recent song on this set and representative of the "new phase of Afrobeat" as Fela puts it. A Nile Rodgers like guitar rhythm and great call and answer vocals make for an up-tempo song about a serious subject.
Many will argue that this period was not Fela at his best. I can understand that point of view, but as a true fan you really have to add this one to the collection. Remember that all solo's played live are improvised and therefore different than those on the official releases of these songs (that were actually released at later dates). If you want to hear a crystal clear rendition of this show, consider buying a time machine. Otherwise, enjoy this CD-set instead.
Note: this review refers to the 3-CD set. There is also a 2-CD set available, don't know whether there's much difference in sound quality.
Julio Punch (Webmaster of The Shrine: The Unofficial Website for Fela Kuti and Afrobeat Music)