Tony Allen- Afro Disco Beat
(Vampi Soul VAMPI CD 090)

From Aural Innovations #38 (Jan 2008)

Tony Allen is best well known as the drummer from the legendary Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti’s band. Tony played drums in Fela’s band from nearly the beginning up until 1979, when he left to go his own way. The music on this 3CD set is the first re-release of the 4 solo records that Tony recorded in the 70’s (Jealousy (´75), Progress (´76), No Accomodation for Lagos (´78), and No Discrimination (´79)). These were produced by Fela and he also played on all but the last one. The rest of the band on the CDs is also pretty much Fela’s band but Tony wrote these songs so he got the credit and also any money that might be generated as a result, since the musicians in Fela’s band earned nothing from the songs as Fela wrote and composed everything. He even owned most of their instruments! Anyway, I have to say that compared to the material Tony makes today (Lagos No Shaking from 2006 was excellent), these records come across as pretty average or a poor man’s version of Fela style Afrobeat (the first two). Again, these were Tony’s first songs so it is hard to judge him harshly on these. If you are a fan of Afrobeat and would like to hear the roots of Tony Allen, then this is a great set for sure with a long booklet with cool liner notes.

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Reviewed by Scott Heller

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