Jealousy/Progress - 1975/77
Unofficial band director and drummer extraordinaire for Fela Kuti 's groups from 1968 through the late 70s, Tony Allen is arguably as important in the development of Afrobeat as Fela himself. A master of subtle precision and a purveyor of deep, classic funk, Allen released this pair of LPs in the mid 70s to step out of the shadow of his boss and pull his own contributions to the forefront. And while this is certainly the Tony Allen show, it's by no means a one man affair. It is, however, a massive attack of percussion. With Africa 70 providing backing and Fela contributing heavily on keys and saxophone on both albums, the sound isn't that different from any of the classic Fela LPs from this era - the drums are understandably pushed up in the mix, but the chant vocals, percussive guitars and plunky electric pianos pull everything toward a familiar core - but much like He Miss Road, the sound is less immediate, more atmospheric and spacious. All told, a magnificent pair of LPs that shed some long overdue sunshine on one the all-time greats. There's no way not to love this collection.