Nigerian master-drummer Tony Allen was the powerhouse behind the late Fela Kuti's bands Africa 70 and Egypt 80. By general consensus, he invented the devilishly complicated, deceptively simple-sounding rhythm that came to be known as Afrobeat. It's said that Fela needed four drummers to replace Allen when the two musicians eventually parted ways and from this record it's not hard to see why.
Blur's Damon Albarn seems to find his way onto a number of African records nowadays. Whilst association by fame can do nothing but good for African record sales, the actual artistic point of his inclusion as singer on this session's opener, 'Every Season', is questionable. Although Albarn makes a perfectly good fist of his guest spot, the tune is a success despite the celebrity presence, not because of it.
This is the key to the whole album. Although Allen brings in fresh elements to his time-honoured sound in order to attract a broader audience (another example is the convincing rapper Ty), it's still the deep afrobeat grooves that leap out here. When the rich horn section locks into Allen's supernaturally powerful percussion the whole comes into its own.
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