An astonishingly broad array of artists deriving deep inspiration from Afrobeat make the first of these CDs constantly surprising, while the second disc goes back to the source.
Many of the tunes on the first CD will be familiar, coming as they do from artists as well known internationally as Femi Kuti, Common, Fatboy Slim and Hugh Masekela.
The Ashley Beedle’s Africanz on Marz remix of the huge Femi song Beng Beng Beng gets the party started before two of the finest tracks on the CD: Dennis Ferrer’s satirical Funu and Gigi’s Gudfella. The latter being a wonderful meeting of Tony Allen’s production skills with new wave Ethiopian songstress Gigi Shibabaw: a dazzling new twist on East meets West. Another fine combination involves Mr Allen again but this time with frequent collaborator, UK hip hop don Ty doing the impossible for the ungrateful on The Willing.
CD one is not all gold though and there are some flat spots especially in the latter parts of the first disc. No matter, there is enough good stuff to go round.
CD Two begins with the master himself, Fela Kuti with one of his finest jams, Water No Get Enemey. All the classic elements of Fela at his best are here: the compelling long jam, a simple but effective slogan, pidgin poetics and a chorus that clings to you like a nylon shirt on a hot day. Unfortunately, as is generally the rule with Afrobeat compilations, there is only the one Fela track. Among the Afrobeat cognoscenti Peter King is a name to be dropped and it is great to hear his wonderful Shango (named after the Yoruba god).
On a related tip, but preceeding it (and Afrobeat) by some years is the 1959 track Gin-Go-Lo-Ba by Olatunji that helped break African sounds and percussion to the North American market.
Probably the best known track on the whole album is Cameroon’s Manu Dibango and the afrofunk classic, Soul Makossa. But if that one is a strange choice for an Afrobeat tune, E.T Mensah’s highlife tune Save Me is stretching it even further. But when the tunes are this good, who is going to split hairs?
1 Femi Kuti – Beng Beng Beng (Ashley Beedle’s Afrikans On Marz Mix)
2 Dennis Ferrer – Funu
3 Gigi – Gudfella (Tony Allen Afrobeat mix)
4 Ty feat. Tony Allen – The Willing
5 Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra feat. Mayra Vega – Che Che Cole
6 DJ Food – Dub Lion
7 Ras – Exit Routine
8 MAW feat. Wunmi – The Time Is Now
9 Fatboy Slim – First Down
10 Les Barons – Lagos Sound System
11 Common – Heat
12 JJC & 419 Squad – Malemicita
13 Hugh Masekela – Don’t Go Lose It Baby (12î)
14 Awa-KlaSH – Akoba
15 Baaba Maal – Souka Nayo (I Will Follow You) (Fila Brazilia mix)
1 Fela Kuti – Water No Get Enemy
2 Peter King – Shango
3 Oscar Sulley & The Uhuru Dance Band – Bukom Mashie
4 E.T. Mensah & His Tempos Band – Save Me
5 Manu Dibango – Soul Makossa
6 Segun Bucknor & The Assembly – Adanri Sogbasogba
7 Orchestre Poly-rhythmo De Cotonou Benin – Houe Towe Houn
8 Orlando Julius & His Afro-Sounders – Home Sweet Home (Part 1)
9 Sir Victor Uwaifo & His Melody Maestros – Got My Mojo Workin’ (Mojo Mojo Edo)
10 Olatunji – Gin-Go-Lo-Ba
11 The Funkees – Ole
12 Dackin Dackino – Yuda
13 Mulatu Astatke – Yekatit
14 Lijadu Sisters – Life’s Gone Down Low