Words by Jane Cornwell
There is Femi and Seun Kuti, of course, and the ever-dextrous iconic Tony Allen, who guests hither and yon. But nobody is keeping Fela’s Afrobeat flag flying as proudly as Dele Sosimi: composer, keyboard player, bandleader and wearer of some of the finest Abeti Aja dog-ear caps in the world. He was bandleader of Fela Kuti’s Egypt 80, co-creator of the Positive Force band with Femi, musical consultant for the UK version of the musical FELA! and is host of the long-running bi-monthly Afrobeat Vibration night in London: Sosimi must hear funky horns in his sleep. And while his first two solo albums, 2002’s Turbulent Times and 2011’s Identity deftly reinvigorated Fela’s Afrobeat template, it’s his third album, You No Fit Touch Am, that really establishes Dele as a force to be reckoned with.
Polished but pulsing with anger, this captures all the verve and spark of the Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra, whose key members – bass guitarist Femi Elias, drummer Kunle Olofinjana, and horn players Justin Thurgur, Eric Rohner and Tamar Osborn – are in fine form throughout a disc that eschews Dele’s previous digital approaches for analogue organics. ‘Na My Turn’ and ‘Sanctuary’ are laced with Dele’s catchiest vocal melodies yet; ‘Where We Want Be’ includes a fabulously psychedelic Moog synth excursion. Throughout, the basslines and baritone sax are heavy, heavy, heavy.