Ginger Baker: In Africa [DVD]

Tony Palmer's fascinating documentary about former Cream drummer Ginger Baker and his travels across Africa to Lagos, Nigeria gets a simple but serviceable release on DVD. Ginger Baker in Africa has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1; the film was shot in 16mm, and the color and grain betrays the use of the smaller gauge, but the images are acceptably sharp, the color is richly saturated, and the source materials are clean and well-presented. The audio has been mastered in PCM Mono, and the location recordings (made under obviously difficult circumstances) are sometimes flawed, but for the most part they sound good and capture some unique and exciting performances that otherwise would have been lost to history (especially a stunning set from Fela Kuti and Africa 70). The narration (by Baker himself) is in English, with no multiple language options or subtitles included. No bonus materials have been included for this release, but the film itself is well served, and anyone with an interest in African music will want to see this, even in relatively bare-bones form.
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Ginger Baker: In Africa
After the breakup of the blues-rock supergroup Cream, drummer Ginger Baker became deeply interested in African music, and in 1971 he made plans to build a recording studio in Lagos, the capitol of Nigeria, to document the many talented musicians he had discovered there. With typical bravado, Baker opted to fly from England to the other side of the African continent, and travel to Lagos over ground using a specially fitted Range Rover he'd purchased for the journey. Baker invited documentary filmmaker Tony Palmer to join him for the trip, and Ginger Baker in Africa captures the sights and sounds they encountered as the crossed the Sahara Desert and jammed with many local musicians along the way. Ginger Baker in Africa includes remarkable performance footage of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti and his band Africa 70 (then unknown in the West) playing in an open-air night club during a rainstorm with no fear of electrocution. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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