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World Music CD Reviews Africa

TONY ALLEN

By JUDSON KILPATRICK
Published May 2, 2006

Home Cooking
Shakti

While serving, brilliantly, as the drummer and musical director for the late Fela Kuti in the ’60s and ’70s, Tony Allen helped invent Afrobeat, and remains one of the funkiest drummers alive. His more recent material has explored various ways of fusing modern elements to familiar Afrobeat rhythms, with the songs sharing the welcome trait of keeping his propulsive, thunderous drum rolls up front in the mix. While some tracks on Home Cooking preserve the Fela-style formula of deep male vocal intonations and female backup singers, others feature the British/Nigerian rapper Ty’s thoughtful commentary, lovely smooth-jazz vibes by Roger Beaujolais, and even contributions from Damon Albarn (of Blur and Gorillaz fame). Though the result could hardly be called “pop,” it will appeal to neo-soul fans and Afrobeat aficionados alike. Highlights include the hauntingly soulful “Kindness,” the topical anti-war epic “Don’t Fight” and the controlled fury of “Crazy Afrobeat.” A bonus 12-inch mix of Allen’s classic “Black Voices” brings the disc up to a full hour of legendary grooves.