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Tony Allen

HomeCooking (Narada World)

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As director for Fela Kuti's massive bands from 1968 to '79, Nigerian drummer Tony Allen laid the foundation for Afrobeat, a hypnotic, militant variation on James Brown's epic funk jams. You might expect the venerable percussionist to rest on such a towering feat, but Allen's no museum curator for this music; he strives to advance it. Following his killer 2001 collaboration with French electronic wiz Doctor L, Psyco on da Bus, Allen returns with HomeCooking, a joyous gumbo of hip-hop, funk, soul and dub stirred by his indestructible Afrobeat pulsations. On disc opener "Every Season," Blur frontman Damon Albarn and vaunted UK rapper Ty lend their voices to a lovable dub-high-life fusion that deserves serious college and NPR airtime. Fela's spirit informs Allen's music, and the call-and-response unison chants that peppered his boss' marathon songs also blow through HomeCooking like blasts of oxygen. You won't hear a more vital album by a sexagenarian all year.

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