Although Ali Farka Toure's rep as a Malian blues guitar magician was established throughout West Africa by the 80s, it wasn't until the French Disques Esperance label released a stripped-down LP of tunes in 84 that word began to spread to the West about a missing-link picker who connected the rhythms of J.B. Lenoir, Lightnin' Hopkins and Muddy Waters back to the ancient African roots of their sound. Well, that classic Toure recording has finally been reissued with a more elaborately orchestrated session from 88, which World Circuit has conveniently packaged as the double-disc Red & Green set. Be advised that once you put on this trance-inducing music, you'll want to hear it again and again.
Soul Brother No. 2
One of the all-time great white soul shouters, Wayne Cochrane has been long overdue for a career retrospective, and it's typical that the 24-song Get Down With It! disc - the first CD collection covering his awesome 60s and 70s swingers for Chess, King, Mercury and Epic - was assembled by the Australian-based Raven label. Pearl Jam scored an unlikely chart hit with Cochrane's tune Last Kiss (often credited to J. Frank Wilson, who covered it first), and the Blues Brothers updated his Goin' Back To Miami. James Brown, Otis Redding, Elvis Presley and Jackie Gleason were all fans of Cochrane's incendiary performances and flamboyant look, which was characterized by lavish capes, flash jumpsuits and a massive platinum-blond pompadour that made Little Richard's do seem conservative. Yet oddly enough, Cochrane is a forgotten figure today, which will be especially confounding when you put on the fabulous Get With It! disc and listen to a 77-minute sampling of his rockin' blues and deep soul recordings. A biopic beckons.
Tony Allen comes alive
While the studio recordings that Fela Kuti's sidekick, drummer Tony Allen , has made as a leader since his recent comeback have been musically adventurous, the gloriously loose and funky feel of his classic Africa 70 recordings seems like a distant memory. However, Comet's recently issued Live set, on which Allen is joined by his road-tested guitar-bass-trumpet-Rhodes unit at 2004 tour stops at Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom and the Spectrum in Montreal and the Montreux Jazz Festival , proves that the Nigerian-born co-architect of Afrobeat has still got it.
While trawling through the Reprise tape vaults for lost Allen Toussaint recordings - perhaps when researching the Complete Warner Bros. Recordings set that Rhino Handmade released in 2003 - someone uncovered a couple of studio outtakes that have just surfaced on a 7-inch EP called New Orleans 1972, released by the mysterious SansuSwampFuzz label. For now, let's leave it up to Toussaint's lawyer to decide the legitimacy of the release. I can tell you that the three tracks - listed here as Studio Outtakes 1, 2 and 3 - contain some nasty Meters-backed funk freakiness circa Life, Love And Faith that needs to be heard, sampled, played in clubs and put on outgoing telephone messages.