Tony Allen Secret Agent

Tony Allen Secret Agent
After being on the cutting edge of Afrobeat ever since leaving Fela's band in 1979 ― some would say he took Fela's cutting edge with him ― drummer Tony Allen settles into a more relaxed groove on his latest album, Secret Agent. This is his first release for the always classy World Circuit, and he's taken over the production reins. Allen takes a step back from trying to explode the form, as he did most recently in the revelatory collaboration with Jimi Tenor, Inspiration Inspiration 4. Instead, we get straightforward grooves with a relaxed, NPR-ready feel to them. His inimitable drumming style still provides an album's worth of enjoyment no matter what else happens atop it ― with the exception of "Ayenlo," most songs tend to blend in to each other. To the disc's credit, this sounds like a band recording, not a series of overdubs, so even with some pedestrian solos and unmemorable riffs the spirit of togetherness still shines through. This isn't Allen's best record, but it's still very enjoyable and may even be a great introduction for a novice Afrobeat fan. (World Circuit)