Artist: Tony Allen, Hugh Masekela
Release Date: March 20, 2020
Label: World Circuit
- Agbada Boudou
- Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be the Same)
- We’ve Landed
Tony Allen was a drummer from Nigeria who was key in defining the genre of Afrobeat when working with Fela Kuti’s Africa ’70 band. In 2010, he collaborated with the equally legendary South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela on the sessions that would lead to this album. Masekela died in 2018. Allen completed the sessions with some of London’s top jazz artists.
Allen died on April 30, just a little over a month after this album’s release, so it stands as a memorial to him as well. Nevertheless, it is a joyous recording as the title proclaims. I don’t have the language and experience to adequately describe Afrobeat and jazz, but I like what I hear. Most of the album is instrumental, with exceptions like “Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be the Same),” a tribute to Fela Kuti. In the music you can hear the freedom and friendship of two great artists pushing one another to greater heights. It’s also a very crisp recording where each instrument resonates richly and deeply.
This is a terrific album and makes me want to dive into the back catalog of both artists.
Better late than never! Here are some good new songs from the last month of last year.
Madame Gandhi :: Top Knot Turn Up
Madame Gandhi, the former drummer for M.I.A and a runner of the London Marathon, s an electronic music artist and activist based in Los Angeles.
Antibalas :: Fight Am Finish
My favorite Afrobeat band from Brooklyn (with ties to Daptone records) returns!
beabadoobee :: Are You Sure
Beatrice Kristi Laus is a youthful Filipino-British indie singer-songwriter.
MaLLy :: Black Moses
The latest from a Minneapolis rapper. Read more at The Current.
Album: Remain in Light
Artist: Angélique Kidjo
Release Date: June 8, 2018
- Born Under Punches
- Crosseyed and Painless
- Once in a Lifetime
- Houses in Motion
- but really, the whole album
In 1980, the Talking Heads released the seminal New Wave album Remain in Light which incorporated African rhythms and instrumentation into post-punk rock music. Angélique Kidjo takes the music back to Africa by covering the entire album. And, wow, it’s absolutely breathtaking! Even if you’ve listened to the Talking Heads album again and again, these feel like fresh, brand-new songs!
Hot songs spinning in my ears over the past month.
Courtney Barnett – “Nameless, Faceless”
Femi Kuti – “One People One World”
Jorge Elbrecht – “Here Lies (Feat. Tamaryn)”
Orquesta Akokan– “Mambo Rapidito”
Khruangbin – “Maria También”
Hollie Cook – “Stay Alive”
On a chilly day one can warm up with the Afrobeat sounds of Ikebe Shakedown, the 70s funk revival septet from New York. “Brushfire” should get you dancing.
This week’s song is a remix of legendary Nigerian-born drummer Tony Allen‘s track African Man by Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer.
Chill out and absorb the percussion.
The Budos Band is a 9-piece instrumental Afro-Soul ensemble from Staten Island. Their new album is called Burnt Offering and includes the track “The Sticks.”
You can hear more by The Budos Band and other artists on the great music podcast The Sounds in My Head.
In my pseudo-hipster way, I tend to post songs by Icelandic bands and by bands with an afrobeat sound, so why not do both? Samúel Jón Samúelsson Big Band is from Iceland and they do play an African jazz/funk fusion style as you can hear on this track “Ethiópían”
What are you listening to this week? Post it in the comments and perhaps it will be my Song of the Week next week.
I’m a sucker for West African guitar styles and horns and thus immediately drawn to “The Secret is Out” by Seattle’s Cascadia ’10. You can see an interview with the band and a performance of the track in the clip below.
What’s burning up your ears and your stereo speakers this week?