In memoriam Tony Oladipo Allen (RIP)-Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and Egypt 80

In memoriam Tony Oladipo Allen (RIP)

Tony Oladipo Allen

Tony Oladipo Allen (born July 20th, 1940, in Lagos, Nigeria, died April 30th, 2020 in Paris, France) was a Nigerian drummer, composer, and songwriter who lived and worked in Courbevoie, France.

Tony Allen played drums for Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and Egypt 80 organizations, pioneering the unique beat and vibe of Afrobeat music which combines polyrhythmic influences of Africa with the breakbeats and extended jams of the American funk and R&B which reached Nigeria in the late 60s and early 70s.

Afrobeat music has since re-influenced western dance music in fusion genres like broken beat and future jazz, as in the music of Bugz In The Attic.

see also my previous post  Fela Kuti -the black President -Yellow Fever -Decca Afrodisia 1976

I can remember the night of the concert by Fela Kuti in Amsterdam on 28 November 1983 in Paradiso, the great temple of pop, like it is yesterday.  Everyone in Amsterdam and within the borders of  Holland who loved African music must have been there as it was sold out, with many people outside trying to get in

the pics used in this post are not from the Amsterdam 1983 concert.

It seemed like  some royalty was in town  for a visit. The hall was packed and it took a long time before the show began. The audience was getting restless, whipped up by the hot Afro-beat that the DJ  played beforehand, and after much cheering and applause the stage was finally lit. Or rather, a follow spot captured a naked woman painted in bright war paint who entered the stage on hands and feet, chained to the neck drawing another six or seven slaves with her in captivity. These women were the wives of Fela Kuti who held  the chain around their necks tightly.

The band started this hypnotic Afro-beat; the song “Political Statement Number 1” and Fela took place behind the organ, sang and played soprano sax. Not at the same time but stretched out over a three hour set. The dancers and the band whipped each other into a frenzy until the man behind the microphone started “Sorrow, Tears & Blood”. Fela with his entourage glowed in the dark.

The room was boiling, the crowd delirious, the show transcended the regular program of standard performances into a very intense experience, it felt like a spiritual political meeting with Fela Kuti as high priest, as a leader.

This unique concert was recorded from the mixing desk at the night, mixed in London by Dennis Bovell and later released as the album “Music Is The Weapon” in 1984.

I will present the complete album in a following post so here today I propose an early 12” that was originally released in Nigeria by Kalakuta Records  in 1977. This disc features one of the biggest hits by Fela Kuti, then still performing under the name ‘Africa 70 Organization‘;  ‘Sorrow, Tears & Blood’ and ‘Colonial Mentality’ 

The label does not mention any titles or credits but the name of the artist and label info.

Fela Kuti & Africa 70 Organization -Colonial Mentality

Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70 Organization – Kalakuta Records Nigeria KK001 -1977

All pictures by Bernard Matussiere- November 28th 1983

Basa Basa ‘Homowo’ aka Basa Basa Experience ‘Together We Win’ -Ghana

Basa Basa Homowo -1979 Nigerian Holy Grail. Now available as a 2018 reissue by Vintage Voudou, The Netherlands, with extensive liner notes and fold-out poster

Soul Safari

Originally released in 1979 in Nigeria this album remains one of the highly prized ‘holy grails’ of African music. Basa Basa Experience ‎– Together We Win Label: Take Your Choice Records (TYC) ‎– TYC 115-L

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see also previous post Piliso -Thumela -rare Afrobeat from South Africa 1983

Both albums by Piliso and Basa Basa Experience ‎were produced by Themba Matebese, a member of Nigerian band T-Fire. Other members are Igo Chico, Kenneth Okulolo, Lekan Animashaun, Mike Collins, Tobahoun Abalo, Tunde Williams.  In T-Fire Themba Matebese was responsible for the vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards and percussion as well as for the composition of most of their songs. He also wrote  ‘African Soul Power’, the standout track on ‘Together We Win’. The album got repressed on Peach River Records in Holland in 1983 under a new title ‘Homowo’, the group name was shortened to Basa Basa.

Liner notes; Basa Basa is a highlife band, the nuclues being the Nyaka Twins from…

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Piliso – Thumela -rare Afrobeat from South Africa 1983

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Piliso – Thumela

I  wish I could find some more info on this rare album by Piliso, released in Holland only in 1983. Unfortunately nothing pops up on Google or anywhere. Discogs clarifies that the same album was released in 1979 as Uwandile ‎– The Tie Breaker in Nigeria. A few acetates were cut at Trident Studios in 1981 for release of album by Boom Records in Nigeria. Not sure if the Boom release ever happened.

Some info from the sleeve of the Dutch release; Uwandile Piliso is a singer and hails from Johannesburg, South Africa

Recording artists; Guitar -J. Ndlou Bass -Andre Abramse

Drums -Butley Moore

Vocals -Uwandile Piliso

Fender Rhodes -Gboyega Adelaja Keyboards -T. Matebese Horns -E. Oyewole/O. Julius

Recorded and mixed at Decca Studios, Lagos Nigeria

All songs written by Uwandile Piliso

Artwork; Susan E. St George

released on Peach River Records ‎– BB SP LP 02 The Netherlands 1983

Thumbs up to reader Afrikola for his valuable comment. This post was edited on June 16th 2015 and the following info added

This was a group of South African exiles in Nigeria at the time. Wandile also played with Themba Matebese in his T- Fire group that got comped on some Soundway Nigerian compilations.That group featured big names from Africa 70 , like Lekan Aminashaun,Tunde Williams and Kenneth Okulolo. Andre Abrahamse and Josi Ndlovu from Zimbabwe did a nice AfroDisco album called Amandla , as well as backing the drummer Butley Moore on his own record , Happy Merry Music.All from around the same time on Boom Records.After coming back from exile , Andre Abrahamse was a well sought after studio musician , appearing on lots of Jazz albums. Themba Matebese also produced the Basa Basa Soundz album Together We Win , that also got repressed on Peach River Records under another name Basa Basa Homowo.

Hit Parade Africain -Spring 2013 Mix -rumba, soukous, afrobeat


hit parade africain cover voor

to kick off the new month here is a groovy mix of great rumba, soukous, afrobeat…all tracks taken from ‘Hit Parade Africain Vol 4’, released by the wonderful label Melodisc Records Ltd that was based in London.  No year of publication is indicated, so I estimate that  this release is from mid 70s.  Melodisc Records Ltd released a remarkable selection of early ska, rocksteady and African music and the records are quite rare these days….so enjoy this mix!

Hit Parade Africain Vol 4 -Orchestre Les Noirs, Orchestre Sinza, Franco & Orchestre TP Ok Jazz, Orchestre Les Rebelles, Les Bantous, Orchestre Mando Negro, Orchestre Hi-Fives MLP 12-198 UK

hit parade africain cover achter

hit parade africain label side 1

Hit Parade Africain Mix 1 April 2013

 Orchestre Sinza -Mahoungou

Franco et l’Orchestre TP OK Jazz -Ye Nr. 1

Orchestre Les Rebelles -Manicero

Les Bantous -Macaro

Orchestre Les Noirs -Sikiya Sauce Nr. 1

Orchestre Les Noirs -Amin Nr. 1

Orchestre Hi-Fives -Belina Mon Amour

hit parade africain label side 2