In memoriam Tony Oladipo Allen (RIP) -Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70 Organization

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…

please note that the pics used here are from a different concert, not the Paradiso concert 1983

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

Catchy rhythms from Nigeria 1959

one of the great finds during my latest digging trip in South Africa….what a beautiful collection of Calypso, Highlife, Mambo!! No date of release mentioned on label nor cover but all recordings stem from the mid to end of the 50s according to the liner notes.

This 10″ release follows volume 1 released earlier by Dutch Philips Records. And combines with another rare release which I have already reviewed in an earlier post


Victor Oly-lya and his Cool Cats -Cool Cats Invitation

Ishie Brothers -Onyeama Rosa

Sammy Akpabot and his All Stars -Save For A Rainy Day

Julius O. Araba and his Rhythm Blues -Olawafuja Sawa

Victor Ola-lya and his Cool Cats -Omolanke

Ganiyu Kale and his Guinea Mambo Orchestra -Iyawo-ile

Ishie Brothers -Mafara, kusa da sokoto

Baby Face Paul and his Top-Poppers -Ayakata

Joe Nez and his Trio -Nsonma nnem

Victor Olalya and his Cool Cats -Mumude

If you like these sounds then do check out this wonderful compilation on Soul Jazz Records.

Various ‎– Nigeria Freedom Sounds! (Popular Music & The Birth Of Independent Nigeria 1960-63)

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


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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Masks -Haitian Vodou and Togo deities

haiti voodoo 9 gecomp

Maske is a Haitian kreyol word, meaning to wear a mask. Todays selection of text and some of the most stunning pictures of Haitian Vodou comes from the book ‘Maske’ by Phyllis Galembo.

This acclaimed book with thrilling photographs, showing masquerade performers in Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Zambia and Haiti is a celebration of African art, and a work of vivid artistic imagination. Photographs of carnival characters, mostly rooted in African religion and spirituality, are presented in chapters organised by tribal or carnival tradition each introduced by a short text by Galembo about the characters and costumes portrayed. The art of masquerade is introduced by art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu, (himself a participant in masquerade events during his childhood in Nigeria).

See also previous post Maske by Phyllis Galembo -Makishi & Lakishi masquerades & more

haiti voodoo 10 gecomp haiti voodoo 1 gecomp

Within the African Diaspora, Haitian culture is known for its strong connection to Yoruba, Congo, and other Cross river cultures which, over centuries, slaves combined with influences from local Taino Indians and Europeans, and from Vodou.

For these photographs of traditional religious rituals Galembo went to Haiti, where she documented the traditional priests and priestesses of Vodou during Jacmel Kanaval, when troupes of musicians and dancers fill the streets. A wonderful yet dangerous event, the mood can swing wildy from exuberant joy to defiant aggression. Today, after the catastrophic earthquake of 12 January 2010, Jacmel Kanaval was cancelled and, as I write this, much of Haity including Jacmel, remains in ruins.

haiti voodoo 6
haiti voodoo 3

haiti voodoo 4 haiti voodoo 5

ISBN 978-1-905712-17-5

First published 2010 by Chris Boot

see also Vodou, Visions and Voices of Haiti

Published by Ten Speed Press; ISBN: 1580086764; 2005


and just one more Voodoo photograph, from Togo…from the book ‘Faces Of Africa’ by Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher -National Geographic Society USA 

haiti voodoo 2

A Voodoo devotee from Togo surrenders himself to the spirit of his personal deity. His eyes roll upward and his pupils disappear, leaving only the whites. Depending on which direction they eyes roll, observers can tell what spirit has possessed him. This man, with his eyes rolled toward the sky, is possessed by Hebioso, the thunder god.

This seminal volume first published in 2009 is a landmark. The award-winning team of photographers Carol Beckwith / Angela Fisher and authors of African Ark present a stunning selection of 250 full-color portrait photographs from across Africa, spanning every region of the continent, from the Islamic Africans of the North, to the tribal cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, to the people of the South, in a compact edition of their acclaimed book.

Faces of Africa: Thirty Years of Photography
Beckwith, Carol / Fisher, Angela

Published by Natl Geographic Society 2009-01-06, 2009
ISBN 10: 1426204248 / ISBN 13: 9781426204241

Black Man’s Cry -inspired by Fela -volume 1

The influence of Fela Anikulapo Ransome Kuti crosses many foreign shores as the man raised a few political issues as well in his home country Nigeria. The music of Fela inspired musicians as well as beatmasters, scratchers and was sampled galore. Afro-beat has become such a household name these days that many punters  will not be able to  trace back the genre back to the original Godfather of Afro-beat from Nigeria.

On foreign shores, outside of France (where his music saw nearly as many issues as if did in his native country) a chosen few Westerners -Cream’s drummer Ginger Baker and New York-based jazz vibraphonist Roy Ayers amongst them- could claim to know the extent of Fela’s genius. As a result, while music historians have filled books with references to the influence of Westerners on Fela’s creation, little has been said about Fela’s inspiration on others.

 Today’s post shines a light on a wonderful compilation, issued on American based label Now Again in 2010, ‘Black Man’s Cry -The Inspiration of Fela Kuti-‘. It’s an impeccable collection of ultra-rare singles and a few tracks from even rarer albums, all lovingly compiled by Egon. The collection includes rare and previously unreleased music from Nigeria, Ghana, Colombia, Trinidad…Presented in a deluxe CD-box with an extensive booklet full with info and pics of the featured tracks.

Well recommended.

Go and get your own copy either on CD or as 4 10″ LP Box Set!

Buy it on iTunes here.

1. Cumbia Moderna De Soledad -Shacalao 3:42
2. Dan Satch and his Atomic 8 Dance Band -Woman Pin Down 2:52
3. 6th Infantry Brigade of the Nigerian Army -Black And Proud 3:33
4. Bola Johnson -Hot Pants 2:52
5. Segun Bucknor -Adebo 5:52
6. Bola Johnson -Never Trust A Woman 5:13
7. Jerry Hansen -Sisi Mi 5:31
8. Daktaris -Up Side Down 4:14
9. Phirpo Y Sus Caribes -Comencemos 2:11
10. Lever Brothers Gay Flamingoes -Egbi Mi O/Black Man’s Cry (Medley) 9:53
11. Mosco Tiles Fonclaire Steel Orchestra -Black Man’s Cry 4.28
12. Sylvania East Side Symphony -Egbi Mi O/Black Man’s Cry (Medley) 2:58
13. Lisandro Meza -Shacalao 3:43
14. Karl Hector and The Malcouns Toure -Samar 3:17
15. Whitefield Brothers -Lullaby For Lagos 2:39

‘Black Man’s Cry -the inspiration of Fela Kuti ‘ -Now Again NA 5056 -2010 USA. Hardbound book with CD and 4 10″ LP Box Set.

text contains excerpts from the original liner notes by Egon 

Queen Salawa Abeni & Her African Waka Modernisers. Nigeria

Today’s post shines a light on one of my most precious Tokyo finds, an album by Queen Salawa Abeni,  from Lagos, Nigeria.

I really became quite enchanted with the strong voice and the hypnotic rhythms  accompanying the singer. The grooves -with talking drums- are mesmerizing, while the voice holds strong within all the surrounding drums. The tracks are indexed but were played and recorded as a 17 minute jam as this rare record shows.

The music is dedicated to the memory of Alhaji Haruna Ishola, the King of Apala Music who died at the age of 65 years on 9th November 1983.

She was crowned “Queen of Waka Music” by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi in 1992. Waka is an Islamic-influenced, traditional Yoruba music style. Salawa Abeni (born May 5, 1961) is a popular Nigerian singer who became the first female artist to sell over a million copies in Nigeria. Quite an achievement, really.

 Queen Salawa Abeni & Her African Waka Modernisers. Volume 14 on Leader Records LRCLS 44 Nigeria.

Side 1 

Jomi Jomi


National Ladies Club

Late Alhaji Haruna Ishola

Side 2 


United Social Club

Mo Gbe De

Morufu Akilo

Iyo Yo


more Fela Kuti -“Monkey Banana” on Coconut Records, Nigeria 1975

thanks for all the comments and requests for more Fela Kuti. You have asked for it so here it is; a rare 12″ released by Coconut Records in 1975 in Nigeria. The 12″ features the track “Sense Wiseness” on the B-side.

Fela Kuti & Africa 70 Organization -Monkey Banana

Fela Kuti & Africa 70 Organization -Monkey Banana/Sense Wiseness

Coconut Records PMLP 1001 -Nigeria 1975

see also my previous post  Fela Kuti -the black President -Yellow Fever -Decca Afrodisia 1976 and Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa 70 Organization on Kalakuta Records Nigeria

All pictures by Bernard Matussiere -November 28th 1983


Fela Kuti -the black President -Yellow Fever -Decca Afrodisia 1976

he died in 1997 at the age of 59, leaving behind an imperishable work of musical genius, more modern than ever. He developed his own style which evolved over the years into a separate genre of music, Afro-beat.

Through his music, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, unanimously recognized as king of Afro-beat, was renown to pass messages through his music that were both spiritual and anti-government.

Overcoming the countless brutality he was subjected to during his life, Fela was unquestionably the voice the most famous and most effective of the African cause around the world. The many tours that he undertook in Europe and the United States have contributed crucially to know, recognize and appreciate the music and culture of Africa and Nigeria in particular.

In a sarcastic style that belongs only to him, Fela condemned Africans unable to fight for their rights as men in that typical mix of Yoruba and Pidgin English.

Yellow Fever

some Africans use all sorts of chemicals to lighten their skin, so it is the closest possible to the skin color of  a white person and  this practice is called ‘yellow fever’.

Fela condemns this practice in the song ‘ Yellow Fever’  first and foremost to demonstrate a denial of the pride of being Black and second because it is like a disease such as jaundice or malaria.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti & The Africa 70 -Yellow Fever

lyrics ‘Yellow Fever’

Different different fever na him dey

Malaria fever nko?

Hay fever nko?

Inflation fever nko?

Jundis fever nko?

Freedom fever nko?

Yellow fever nko?

na him dey bring the matter now he dey

I say tell dem make dem hear you say

all fever na sickness -original sickness

malaria na sickness -original sickness

hay fever na sickness -original sickness

inflation na sickness -original sickness

influenza na sickness -original sickness

jundis na sickness -original sickness

freedom na sickness -original sickness

yellow fever nko? say original and artificial he dey


Original catch you, your eyes go yellow, your face go go yellow, your body go weak.

But later if you no die inside, the yellow fever go fade away

Artificial catch you, you be man or woman na you go catch am yourself.

Na your money go do am for you.

You go yellow pass yellow. You go get moustache for face.

You go get your double colour. Your yansh go black like coal.

You self go think say you dey fine. Who say you fine?

Na lie you no fine at all at all na lie

my sister who say you fine?

yellow fever you dey bleach you dey bleach

Sisi wey dey go you dey bleach you dey bleach

stupid thing, yeye thing, ugly thing, fucking thing

now let’s get down to the on the ground spiritual game

everybody etc…

 from the album Yellow Fever -Fela Anikulapo Kuti & The Afrika 70 -Decca Afrodisia 1976 (DWAPS 2004)

All pictures by Bernard Matussiere taken in Amsterdam November 28th 1983

Aleke Kanonu -Nwanne, Nwanne, Nwanne

Nigerian musician Aleke Kanonu is quite unknown yet he has worked with numerous jazz artists in the USA.

He sang and played kalimba and congas with Stanley Cowell on the album entitled ‘Regeneration’ on Strata-East in 1976.

In 1980 came  ‘Aleke’,  a great afro-beat LP with jazz musicians like Wynton Marsalis.

A year later, an obscure 12″  was recorded in New York with Mr Tolbert , entitled “Happiness / Nwanne, Nwanne, Nwanne”.

Wicked sound! Dig Fela Kuti, Manu Dibango et al but then you are going to love this

Aleke Kanonu meets Tolbert The Miracle Man -Nwanne, Nwanne, Nwanne

I lost track of this record until last night while browsing thru my Disco section where it was stored. Last night changed it all!! I remember buying this , way back in NYC at the time when it was released. There was a short-lived buzz with a few key jocks and interest from the shops but due to short supply it disappeared into obscurity. Rare and highly desirable.