Tony Allen Home Cooking

Where other exponents of Afrobeat closely pattern themselves on Fela's foundation, Allen has always looked forward. His genius was to strip down Afrobeat's pummelling arrangements and make them slinkier jazzier, and more electronic. On Home Cooking, producer Damon Albarn has elected to keep things less collage-oriented than his much more successful Mali Music project from last year. His method pumps up the R&B aspects of Allen’s all-time classic Black Voices. Allen's grooves are still deeper than any drum programming could produce and the bumpity feel of his music remains intact, but the dubbed out afro-soul of the previous album isn't nearly as spacy, nor is it as hooky. Female backing vocalists emote throughout, pulverising any soul from the few hooks in each song. British rapper Ty is simply terrible: his subject matter is the shallowest end of "consciousness,” "the Motherland,” and "no more war" — this reinforces every stereotype about lousy British rappers that Roots Manuva et al. had only recently dispelled. There are some nice tunes, like the jazzy "Eparapo,” but almost anything with vocals by someone other than Allen suffers from lack of well thought-out ideas. In short, this is a disappointment. (Virgin)