Posts Tagged ‘seun kuti’

The Songlines Essential 10: Afrobeat Albums

Posted on November 21st, 2014 in Recent posts by .


Afrobeat is seeing something of a resurgence – with the release of a Fela documentary and new albums from two of the genre’s greats. Max Reinhardt gets into the groove and highlights ten of the best albums.

Click here to stream the full playlist.

Tony Allen – Film of Life (Jazz Village, 2014)
Tony Allen’s unique ‘highlife meets hard bop meets funk’ drum patterns underpinned and inspired Fela’s Afrobeat. This latest album finds Allen still an unstoppable force of rhythmic genius in his mid-70s. To quote my review in this issue: ‘an instantly enticing nu-Afrobeat groove, in which funky horns, squelchy synths, repetitive guitar and even ukulele catch you in a compelling slipstream’.

Antibalas – Antibalas (Daptone, 2012)
One of the finest fruits of Fela’s posthumous Afrobeat realm. From 1998 onwards, baritone saxophonist Martin Perna’s Brooklyn-based Conjunto Antibalas live the music, the sonics, the rhythms and the politics of Afrobeat. This CD is an eruption of tuff, brilliant songs, deliriously powerful playing and potent vocals from Amayo. Reviewed in #87.

The Fontanelles – Horns of Freedom (First Word Records, 2013)
The band that grew out of the onstage musicians for the London run of Fela! The Musical. This debut is an instrumental Afrobeat tour de force with a pile driving jazzy edge, to which they’ve added Caribbean and swinging Addis grooves. Its many highlights include ‘Afrocat’, ‘Pinprick’ and ‘Horns of Freedom’. Reviewed in #98.

Alhaji K Frimpong – Kyenkyen Bi Adi M’awu! (Ofo Brothers, 1976)
This album from Alhaji K Frimpong and his Cubano Fiestas is a mid-70s Ghanaian gem clearly influenced by Afrobeat grooves and rhythms though still very much a late period jazzy highlife album. ‘Kyenkyen Bi Adi M’awu!’ itself remains a dance floor classic.

Orlando Julius & The Heliocentrics – Jaiyede Afro (Strut Records, 2014)
Until Fela’s return from the US in 1970, Orlando Julius and his Afro-funk tunes were the summit of cool for young Lagosians. Then Fela’s Afrobeat, non-stop struggle and legend eclipsed Orlando for decades, but this album is his finest hour. In the company of London’s funky jazztronicists, The Heliocentrics, he creates an Afrobeat sound that you want to climb inside for a week at a time. Reviewed in #103.

Fela Ransome Kuti & Africa 70 – Expensive Shit/He Miss Road (Knitting Factory Records, 2013)
An explosive, musical and lyrical Fela peak, this is the CD reissue of two of his early 70s vinyls. Originally, the scatological, subversive Afrobeat classic Expensive Shit was backed with the haunting metaphysics and beautiful melody of ‘Water Get No Enemy’, while He Miss Road’s three tracks include the portrait of his city ‘Monday Morning Lagos’ and Tony Allen’s polyrhythmic tour de force ‘It’s No Possible’.

Femi Kuti – Shoki Shoki (Barclay, 1998)
This is the fourth album by Fela’s oldest son Femi, who over the last 25 years of non-stop touring has been keeping the flame of Fela’s legacy burning. This is probably his most memorable set of songs, from the sex with a smile on its face of the track ‘Beng Beng Beng’ to the accusatory ‘Sorry Sorry’.

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 – A Long Way to the Beginning (Knitting Factory Records, 2014)
Seun’s angriest, most fiery album to date, leading the band he inherited from his father when just 14 years old. His ever improving voice, even wittier lyrics (‘lMF’) and catchier tunes (ragged highlife wonder ‘Ohun Aiye’), production by Robert Glasper and guest stars like Nneka, M1 and Blitz the Ambassador, make this a heady brew. Reviewed in #100.

Dele Sosimi – Identity (Helico Records, 2007)
Dele really is London’s Afrobeat catalyst. He learned keyboards from Fela himself, played with Egypt 80 for seven years, became their arranger and musical director and then did the same with Femi into the 90s. The complex but compelling arrangements of Identity, its songwriting and funkiest of keyboards, all testify to Dele’s finely honed skills and unstoppable dynamism. Reviewed in #55.

Various Artists – Red Hot + Fela (Knitting Factory Records, 2013)
A razor-sharp fundraising tool for AIDS awareness that also traces the spread of Fela awareness within the international musical community. The first album, Red Hot + Riot (2002), featured producer and activist Andres Levin at the controls and highlighted Fela’s compositional genius in the hands of a huge cast including Nile Rodgers, Baaba Maal, and Macy Gray. This follow-up moves further out and sweeps luminaries like Kronos Quartet, My Morning Jacket and Spoek Mathambo into the fold. Reviewed in #97.

Who did we miss? Write and let us know,

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November 2014: Top 10 UK Live Events

Posted on November 3rd, 2014 in Live, News, Recent posts by .

As the nights draw in, the musical calendar is getting ever busier. This month plays host to the annual EFG London Jazz Festival, and there are plenty more other events going on besides.

Here’s a lowdown of the Top 10 to look out for this November.


Red Note Ensemble with Kuljit Bhamra and Fraser Fifield


The premier Scottish force in contemporary classical music teams up with renowned Indian tabla player Kuljit Bhamra (pictured) and piper Fraser Fifield for two intimate performances in Aberdeenshire.

Where & When: Tarland & Portsoy, November 1 & 2. More info

The John Langan Band


Playing at the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe, the frenetic folk trio are set to tear all sense of decorum and pretence from its illustrious heritage. Known for their outrageous live shows, which can be personally verified following their incredible performance at last year’s London Remixed Festival, they’ll be accompanied by Will Varley, whose beautiful and wistful songs were a highlight of this year’s Larmer Tree Festival.

Where & When: Sam Wannamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe, London, November 2. More info



The 11-piece mainstays of the contemporary English folk scene celebrated ten years together this year with their fifth studio album Revival. They follow it up with a full UK tour this November.

Where & When: Across the UK, Nov 7-29. More info

Susheela Raman


Susheela Raman returned this year with the highly acclaimed Queen Between and headlines the Jazz Cafe as part of the London International Arts Festival with an impressive roster in support. Jyotsna Srikanth’s band Bangalore Dreams are topping the list, but there will also be performances from Krar Collective and Nordic Raga.

Where & When: Jazz Cafe, London, November 9. More info

Abdullah Ibrahim


Dollar Brand celebrates his 80th birthday celebrating in style this year at the Royal Festival Hall. There’s a UK debut from his brand new trio with Noah Jackson and Cleave Guyton, and a performance from his septet Ekaya.

Where & When: Royal Festival Hall, London, November 15. More info

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80


His most recent release A Long Way to the Beginning was named as one of our ten essential Afrobeat albums in this month’s issue, and not without good reason. He plays one date in the UK as part of his November European tour, so don’t miss out!

Where & When: Band on the Wall, Manchester, November 20. More info



Tinariwen released their sixth album, Emmaar, earlier this year and have just announced a follow-up EP Inside/Outside, which was recorded in the same studio sessions. Catch them at the Roundhouse this November on the eve of the EP’s release, as part of their world tour.

Where & When: The Roundhouse, London, November 16. More info.

Tony Allen


On the very same evening that Seun plays in Manchester, an Afrobeat legend takes to the stage in the capital. Tony Allen was the drummer for Fela’s original Egypt 80 and has continued to produce genre-pushing and interesting albums as a solo artist following their parting. This year’s Film of Life is by far his strongest release this millennium and includes a track with his longtime collaborator Damon Albarn. Support will come from Aziz Sahmaoui.

Where & When: Village Underground, London, November 20. More info

Kassé Mady Diabaté


The Malian jeli will play as part of the London Jazz Festival in the intimate surroundings of London’s Purcell Room. His new album Kiriké was a Top of the World in this month’s issue.

Where & When: Purcell Room, London, November 23. More info

Ibibio Sound Machine


Ibibio Sound Machine’s blend of West African funk and modern disco is taking the world by storm. You’d be a fool not to be caught up by their infectious rhythms and outstanding arrangements. They’ll be supported by London-based Nigerian MC Afrikan Boy.

Where & When: Village Underground, November 27. More info


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Glastonbury Festival reveals 2014 line-up

Posted on April 4th, 2014 in Live, News, Recent posts by .


Glastonbury Festival has finally let the cat out of the bag, and added 87 names to the line-up for this year’s event at Worthy Farm between June 27-29.

Although Saturday’s headline slot still remains a mystery, the latest announcement includes legendary names such as Robert Plant, The Wailers and Pixies. We’re also delighted that Toumani Diabaté will return with his son Sidiki, having had to pull out of last year’s festival due to illness. Other acts we are looking forward to are Rodrigo y Gabriela, Tinariwen and Seun Kuti & Egypt 80.

Once again Songlines will be hosting the artist signing sessions at the West Holts Stage. More details will follow over the coming months.

For the full-lineup and more information, visit the official Glastonbury page.

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April 2014: Top 10 UK Live Events

Posted on April 1st, 2014 in Live, News, Recent posts by .

We’ve compiled a list of the top ten concerts happening this April to help make sure you don’t miss out on this month’s best shows.

Seun Kuti & Fela’s Egypt 80

The youngest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti plays a one-off gig in London in support of his new album A Long Way to the Beginning. Co-produced by Robert Glasper the new album features powerful songs including a piece confronting the IMF’s involvement in Nigeria, and an ode to his grandmother, ‘Black Woman’. Expect to hear these and more at this very special concert. 

Where & When: Village Underground, London, April 2. More info.


Julie Fowlis

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Our current cover star will tour the UK this spring. Having recently finished toured with The Transatlantic Sessions, the Gaelic songstress will play four dates in April, and a further three in May. Her album Gach Sgeul – Every Story is a Top of the World in the current issue, too. This is not to be missed!

Where & When: Across the UK, April  8-May 27. More info.


Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyaté


The glorious combination of multi-talented beatboxer/singer/guitarist Joe Driscoll and Guinean kora player Sekou Kouyaté will tour the UK this April. Their album Faya was nominated for the Cross-Cultural Collaboration award in the 2013 Songlines Music Awards, and their live show is set to be an explosive affair.

Where & When: Across the UK, April 4-27. More info.



Music from the cultural melting pot of Victoria Falls.

Hot off the heels of their incredible performance at the Songlines Music Awards Winners’ Concert last December, Mokoomba return to the UK with their live show. The Zimbabwean band were winners of the Newcomer award in the 2013 Songlines Music Awards with Rising Tide.

Where & When: Across the UK, March 30-April 13. More info.




London-based klezmer band She’Koyokh head further afield and play dates in Norwich and Cambridge this April. They are fronted by Çiğdem Aslan, who has been nominated for Best Artist as part of this year’s Songlines music Awards. The winners willl be announced in out 100th issue (on sale April 25).

Where & When: Norwich Arts Centre, April 25 & Clare Hall, Cambridge April 26.


Roberto Fonseca + Family Atlantica


Legendary Cuban jazz pianist Roberto Fonseca will play a special one-off show at London’s KOKO this April, with support from Songlines favourites Family Atlantica.

Where & When: KOKO, London, April 8. More info.




The 11-piece folk heavyweights recently picked up the award for Best Album at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards for their album Broadside, and will play two dates this April.

Where & When: Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, April 19 & Royal Albert Hall, London, April 20.


Ed Motta


The Brazilian multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter will tour as part of the La Linea Latin Music Festival Tour. He will be playing tracks from his new album AOR, and  support will come from the talented cellist Dom La Nena.

Where & When: Across the UK, April 3-9, with more dates to be announced. More info.


Christy Moore


Christy Moore is playing six dates across the UK this April, with a full tour of Ireland in May. The founding member of Moving Hearts, released Where I Come From last year – 45 years after his debut – and he’s showing no signs of letting up soon.

Where & When: Across the UK, April 10-18. More info.


Steve Knightley


The Southampton born songwriter – and member of Show of Hands – starts a four-month tour, which will included an appearance at Larmer Tree Festival in July, this April.

Where & When: Across the UK, April 2-30. More info.





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