Tony Allen Eager Hands and Restless Feet

If you’re going to own one Afrobeat album, this could well be it. This collection balances the many high points of Allen’s career and turns it into a great song sequence. Spanning the latter years of his tenure with Fela Kuti to one of the better tracks from his most recent release, Home Cooking, Allen demonstrates a remarkable consistency of musicianship in a variety of production styles. "African Message” is a well chosen highlight of the Fela years (pre-1979) in which Allen’s "solo” records were more like B-level Fela grooves. He really hit his stride with the No Discrimination (represented by its title track and "Ariya”) album of the early ’80s, which pioneered his leaner, more electronic approach to Afrobeat, which few have imitated. Drawing from club influences, dub-wise production techniques and sinewy guitar leads in place of Fela’s blaring horn charts, this collection properly showcases Allen’s more introspective, jazzy sound. Long lost Eager Hands and Restless Feet oozes with funk, and while not exactly a party record, it demonstrates his ability to collaborate with a variety of producers and technology while retaining a singular sound over 20-plus years. (Wrasse)