on 22 September 2009
This man is a genius (so quite what he was doing wasting his time and talent behind Damian Albarn on the distinctly sub-par 'The Good, The Bad & The Queen' is beyond me). Allen can quite justifiably lay claim to having invented a whole genre of music by laying down the polyrythmic funk/jazz/traditional West African fusion that underpinned and defined Fela Anikulapo Kuti's Afro Beat from the late '60's /early '70's onwards. The man really is a world master of his instrument and, despite his advancing years, he continues to demonstrate his forward-thinking genius on this new album. Maybe he lacks some of the more militant energies of old, but he more than makes up for that here with a set of warm, organic, joyful songs while still keeping social justice themes in there. Able to call on some of West Africa's finest as guests, this album shows a top musician continuing at the top of his game and still innovating; I wouldn't expect to hear French-flavoured accordian on an afro beat record, but it's here and it works. The man and his music are to be treasured, big-style!
on 10 June 2009
For years Fela Kuti's drummer in Africa 70, Tony Allen is as original today as The Black King (Fela) was in the 70's and 80's. This is not rehashed Fela nor "in the style of", but something that takes the Sound of the Shrine - Fela's nightclub in Nigeria - and brings it bang up to date with polyrhythms, electronics and the all important feelgood factor that many imitators lack. If you liked Lafayette Afrorock or Alan Skidmore's Ubizo, you will love Tony Allen. Secret Agent is great music; go out and get it now.
on 8 October 2010
I went to the Tony Allen 70/Nigeria 50 show (which was wonderful!) at the Barbican on Wednesday night & picked up this album after the show. I have to say that I disagree with one of the previous reviewers (AndrewSouthLondon) on the production values of this album. Tony Allen is a percussion genius, and this always shines through - 'Secret Agent' is a balanced album - it shows off Allen's skill, whilst also bringing other aspects of the music to the fore. Almost every review of an album released by the World Circuit label mentions the superior sound, high production values and sympathetic treatment of the material in question.......I don't feel that 'Secret Agent' is any different. It's a wonderful Afrobeat record. Buy it & enjoy the rhythms!
on 28 September 2009
As a absolute committed fan of Tony Allen this is by far the worst album ever to bear his name. Artistic direction is dreadful. You buy Tony Allen because you love explosive rhythmic percussion driven african funk, no? Well the drums are virtually unnoticeable - no edge or volume, they are buried deep with the undistinct bass, the engineer just buried them, because he didn't understand. The middle range horns get good attention, but the producer thinks what you really want is the singing. Yup, some pointless girly whining pidgeon-English "I love Africa, its great.." on track after track, I found myself pushing the "next track" button again and again. This is no "Lagos no Shaking" , or stunning Fela infused Afrobeat. This is "Afro-bleat". Ugh. What a disapointment.
The Brian Eno tribute on the cover "worlds greatest drummer" is spot on. Indeed he is. But what you get is some I suspect record company interpretation, wrongly, of what you aren't listening for. Sounds like looking for "politically correct" world music sentiment. Music is only ever about music- its good or its not good. Nigeria has Africa's oil. They ought to be the Saudi's of Africa - instead, its corruption and mass poverty. But we get the "discrimination" meme. The tragedy of Africa is its bled dry by its own people - check Zaire's General Mobutu's villa in the south of France.
Its the music and nothing but.You can't tap your feet to "politics". Tony Allen is a genius. But you will find that genius in his many earlier albums.