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Fela Kuti: In Concert [DVD] [1981]

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Fela in Concert
Fela Anikulapo Kuti was one of the most popular and innovative musicians to emerge from the African continent in the 1970s. Blending the free-flowing structures of jazz and the dance-pulse of R&B with the insistent rhythms of traditional music of Africa, Fela (as he was usually billed) created a new sound he called "Afro-beat," and he was wildly popular in his native Nigeria. But Fela was also an outspoken political activist and born troublemaker; his lyrics boldly called for Pan-African unity and loudly decried the corrupt leadership which kept most of Nigeria's people in poverty. Fela's habit of taunting Nigeria's leaders, coupled with his open use of marijuana and cheerful embrace of polygamy (at one time he had no fewer than 27 wives) often led to problems with the law, and in 1983, Fela was sentenced to ten years in prison on trumped-up charges of currency smuggling; his case became a subject of international controversy, and Nigeria bowed to worldwide demands and freed Fela in 1985. He died in 1997. Fela made few appearances in the United States, but this video -- from a performance recorded in Paris in 1981 -- captures the King of Afro-beat at the height of his powers. The hour-long performance features four typically extended songs: "Instrumental Solo," "Army Arrangement," "Original Sufferhead," and "Power Show." ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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