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Secret Agent

Secret Agent cover art

Track Listing

Click tracks with speaker icon to listen
1Secret Agent5:21
8Nina Lowo5:44
11Elewon Po5:41

News & Reviews

  • Tony Allen to Perform on WNYC's "Soundcheck," Launch North American Tour

    Legendary AfroBeat drummer Tony Allen will be the guest on WNYC's Soundcheck today. He will talk with the show's host, John Schaefer, and perform songs from his album Secret Agent. "The great Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti had a not-so-secret weapon when he was creating the funk-infused style known as Afrobeat in the 1970s," says WNYC. "That weapon was drummer Tony Allen. A legend among drummers of all styles, Allen is still going strong." Allen launches a North American tour this week with special guest Amp Fiddler.

  • Tony Allen and AfroCubism's Bassekou Kouyate to Appear on NPR's "World Cafe"; AfroCubism Featured in Spinner, Boston Phoenix

    Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen and ngoni master Bassekou Kouyate will be the guests on today's episode of NPR's World Cafe. Allen made his World Circuit / Nonesuch debut with the release of Secret Agent earlier this year. Kouyate performs on the album AfroCubism, due out this Tuesday. The latter album is featured on AOL Spinner, which that traces its roots back to the recording sessions that launched Buena Vista Social Club.

About this Album

“At nearly 70, the man Brian Eno reckons is perhaps the greatest drummer that ever lived is reveling in his heritage, and it’s contagious.” —Q

Tony Allen—best known for his work as drummer and musical director for Fela Anikulapo Kuti, one of Africa’s most influential artists—makes his World Circuit / Nonesuch debut with the US release of Secret Agent on April 13, 2010. Following its European release in 2009, Secret Agent received generous critical praise. The Guardian proclaimed, “There is no question that Tony Allen is a genius, one of the greatest percussionists in the history of popular music,” while Observer Music Monthly said, “If you’re wondering why Afrobeat is hip, start here.”

Together with Fela Kuti, with whom he played for 15 years, Allen co-created Afrobeat—the hard-driving, horns-rich, funk-infused, politically insurrectionary style that became such a dominant force in African music and is now one of Africa’s most popular styles among international listeners.

Allen produced Secret Agent, which was recorded with his touring band of musicians from Nigeria, Cameroon, Martinique, and France. The music is four-square in the Afrobeat tradition—rhythmic tenor guitar, funky keyboards, call-and-response vocals, and full-throated horns—with a few twists (including keyboard player and arranger Fixi’s accordion on some tracks). Allen’s playing, meanwhile, draws on four different styles—highlife, soul/funk, jazz, and traditional Nigerian drumming. At Afrobeat’s heart is the beat, even more prominent now than it was in Fela Kuti’s legendary Afrika ‘70 band.

Secret Agent is Allen’s first release since he became a founding member of The Good, The Bad, and The Queen (alongside Damon Albarn, Paul Simenon, and Simon Tong). This association has helped encourage a recent upsurge of interest in Afrobeat. Over the years, Allen has appeared on dozens of albums, and his continued relevance—fans of hip-hop, funk, and jazz clamor for his recordings—speaks to the staying power of the Afrobeat music that he helped create in the 1960s.


Tony Allen, drums, percussion, lead vocals (1, 11)
Rody Cereyon, bass
Claude Dibongue, guitar
Fixi, Rhodes, keyboards, synths, accordion, Vocoder, voice (1), trombone (6)
Nicolas Giraud, trumpet
Jean Jacques Elangue, tenor saxophone
Yann Jankielewicz, alto & baritone saxophones   
Simon Andrieux, trombone
Yinka Ogunye, percussion       
Orobiyi Adunni aka AYO, lead vocals (2, 8, 5, 9), backing vocals (3)
Bola Dumoye aka Switch, lead vocals, backing vocals (3)
Kefee Obareki, lead vocals (6)
King Odudu, lead vocals (4, 7)
Abiodun Oke aka Wura Samba, lead vocals (10) 
Backing vocals: Deborah Ohiri, Shade Orobiyi, Michael Okorie, Soji Adetona, Bola Kamson, Kefee Obareki (6)
Additional Guitar: Seb Martel (1, 2, 6, 4), Oscar Olembe (1, 3)

A World Circuit Presentation
Produced by Tony Allen & Fixi
Additional production by Morris Kawel and Nick Gold
Recorded at Studioworks, Lagos
Sound Engineer Morris Kawel
Assisted by Tezsh Terseer Jato, Moses Okoase, Fidelis Eleyi, Stephen Oshilaja.
Coordinator in Lagos Kole Israel Payne
Thanks to Dayo Akinbote, Hotel Cottage 2, Hotel Opebi Ikeja.
Pre-production & additional recording at Studio Nemours Street, Paris
Sound Engineer Fixi
Additional recording at Studio Calm, Paris & Studio Soyuz, Paris
Sound Engineer Lucas Chauvière
Assisted by Lionel Boutang
Mixed at Livingston Studios, London
Mixed by Sonny
Mastered by Tom Leader

Music composed by Tony Allen. Lyrics by Tony Allen (1, 11), Orobiyi Adunni aka AYO (2, 5, 8, 9), Bola Dumoye aka Switch (3), Kefee Obareki (6), King Odudu (4, 7), Abiodun Oke aka Wura Samba (10). All tracks arranged by Fixi. Published by Carthage Music Ltd.

Artwork by House @ Intro
Cover Photograph by Hugo Glendinning


This album is available from Nonesuch in the US and Canada only.

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