Tony Allen
Black Voices
Comet Records

Music lovers suffered a great loss when Fela Kuti died. He was the shining light and pioneer of Afropop, and a monster of funk. Fela was also an outspoken critic of the dictatorship in his home country of Nigeria, and suffered beatings, mayhem and injustice at the hands of a corrupt regime. Fela and his band Africa '70 inspired many international musicians with their powerful music. The driving engine for Fela's big band synthesis of hypnotic African rhythms, jazz and stanky jams during the 1970s was drummer Tony Allen. Allen also acted as composer and band leader on three of Africa '70's albums. Before joining Fela, Tony played in various highlife bands, and after leaving Fela in the late 1970s he sat in with King Sunny Ade and others around Europe.

As the new millennium approaches, Tony Allen is still ahead of the musical curve with his new album "Black Voices." The CD features songwriting by ex-P-Funkers Mike "Clip" Payne and Gary "Mudbone" Cooper. French DJ and producer Doctor L produced the album. Allen keeps shredding drum rolls and one-drops throughout the album while Clip, Mudbone, and vocalist Cathy Renoir add soulful harmonies. Add to the mix warping, reverb-soaked effects and '90s electronic production values, and the result is an otherworldly collection of deconstructed, dub soaked, stripped-down funk.

This is a quintessential album for the 1990s - the Mothership made its Connection with Nigeria in France, and is taking off for parts unknown. Don't miss it. - Rob Seiden

Hollow Ear