You can't talk about Fela or The Shrine without talking about Fela's original drummer and band leader Tony Allen! Of course we have to go back to the crates and pull out the records... Besides crucial recordings with Fela, Allen has released a grip of his own records dating from the mid-70s to two brand new albums dropping this past year. His beats have been continuously sending ripples through the music world for forty years. Masters of Work, Bobbito, Spinna & Ron Trent are just a few who have offered up re-mixes or edits of Fela/Tony Allen material from the 70s. J Dilla only went back a year when he sampled Allen's 'Asiko' (1999) for Common on the cut 'Heat' on his 2000 album LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE.
His first four records (1975-79) are available as a double CD entitled AFRO DISCO BEAT from Spain's Vampi Soul label. As powerful as any of the Fela records, this is Afro Beat straight, no chaser. Long jams with low end rumble, blazing horns and funky keys all riding atop Tony snaking drums. In the 80s he continued playing and touring and appearing sporadically on albums by various artists from Randy Weston to Grace Jones.
In 1999 Allen re-emerged with the BLACK VOICES album. Produced in Paris, where he now lives, the album saw Allen branching out and embracing new styles, most notably Electronica and Dub. (Well not all new, he'd already recorded with Jamaican saxophone giant Cedric 'IM' Brooks) The album brought him a new generation of listeners, who may have been unaware of his roots with Fela. Re-mixes followed as well as the Allenko Brotherhood Ensemble - a series of a 12" singles based on Allen's drum patterns produced by a host of young beat makers and producers.
He seems to be making up for lost time, releasing a handful of records of his own and appearing on countless records by other artists. After mixing funk & hip hop on 2002's HOME COOKING he has gone back to playing more traditional Afro Beat but continues to push the boundaries collaborating with and recording with divergent groups like Awa Band, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (represent Chicago!), The Good The Bad & The Queen & Charlotte Gainsbourg to name a few.
Tony is bringing more heat this year with his own 'Secret Agent Man' album as well as 'Inspiration Information Vol. 4' with Jimi Tenor. If you have not seen the man play live, check the promo film for his newest album below...