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World Music CD Reviews Africa

Published April 7, 2006

Eager Hands And Restless Feet: The Best Of Tony Allen

While practice may lead to greatness, some musicians simply exude scholarship. Drummer Tony Allen couldn’t fall out of the pocket if he wanted. Fortunately, he has no desire to, his eager hands and restless feet frozen forever during Fela Kuti’s Afrika 70 days. As bandleader of that famed Afrobeat Orchestra, Allen was the foundation Kuti could pummel, sing and blow over. This Best Of stretches past those days into Allen’s later ventures, spanning 1975’s Jealousy and Progress debuts to 2002’s Home Cooking. The classics are included: “No Discrimination,” “African Message” and “Ariya,” as timely today as 25 years past. His excursions into dub in the ’90s are equally commendable, “Asiko,” a vision into the past, if you can picture it. Allen does, even today, keeping rhythmic sensibilities within the context of tightly-produced, intelligent electronica (as proven on his Psycho On Da Bus project). This collection merely hints at his expansive catalog.