Tony Allen No Discrimination

The Afrobeat resurrection continues; now a UK label called Strut has reissued four impossible-to-find albums by Tony Allen, Afrobeat founder Fela Kuti's drummer. The first three - Jealousy, Progress and No Accommodation For Lagos - were recorded with Fela's Afrika 70 band. They are all solid albums scattered with a few burning instrumentals like "Hustler" and "Afro-Disco Beat," which will pack any dance floor. However, the real find is the extremely obscure No Discrimination, made some time after leaving Fela in the late '70s, and before recording the highly electronic NEPA in 1984. No Discrimination contains the best elements of Allen's style: a contracting and expanding groove in a small-band context and experimentation with electronic sounds. Damn, "Ariya" (not the same song as on last year's Black Voices) has a synth whine straight out of the JB's "Blow Your Head!" This first true solo album outside Fela's influence has loosened up Allen's playing and arranging skills. This is a much jazzier album than Fela would ever have produced, with the drum patterns having developed even further from the classic Afrobeat sound. Candido Obajimi's tremulous singing doesn't have the same impact as Fela's powerful tenor, but it suits this minimalist music just fine. (Strut)