This is another great eclectic compilation from the Rough Guide, released by World Music Network. I’ve bought a few of their comps in recent years and over the last decade or so have become a big fan of Afrobeat, in particular the political drive and pulsing rhythms of Fela Kuti. This collection celebrates the progenitors of Afrobeat, Kuti, and percussionist extraordinaire Tony Allen in particular, who sadly died last week, and it provides a showcase for contemporary musicians carrying their baton onwards.
As the excellent liner notes describe, “Afrobeat is an intoxicating concoction of imported James Brown swagger, mixed with jazz and highlife from home and abroad, topped with African pride and revolutionary sentiment.” Listening to these tracks, it’s clear the revolutionary and political impetus hasn’t lessened one iota over the years. The opening track Freedom No Go Die from The Souljazz Orchestra (who hail from Canada) has the chorus “Brother, know your rights, Sister, know your rights..” One of my favourites (that was also a hit with my 6-month old daughter) is Dennis Ferrer’s Dem People Go, which brings the clear political message of “dem people ruthless” to house music.
Albino’s Puppet Boy is seriously funky whilst not holding back on his political message, as is Kaleta & Zozo Afrobeat’s take on that other titan of black ‘folk’ music, Bob Marley’s Get Up Stand Up. We also get a bonus CD of their album Country of Guns along with the compilation.
Most of the artists on this collection have some connection or other with Fela Kuti or the Nigerian music scene. Not least of which is Tony Allen, who appears directly on one track here, Kilode from his Lagos No Shaking album with Yinka Davies on vocals. However, Allen’s influence on the development and the expansion of Afrobeat far beyond Nigeria is felt throughout.
Best Bits: The glorious 9+ mins of Ted Sirota’s Rebel Souls, Sara-Wiwa
Genre: Next Generation Afrobeat
Like This, Try This: Another one from Tony Allen’s 2006 album Lagos No Shaking, Isa Nla. Super funky!