11/02/2008

King Sunny Ade and His African Beats - Juju Music (1982)

«Nigeria's King Sunny Adé and his 20-piece African Beats hypnotize audiences with juju --deeply layered, percussive groove music. Juju started in the '20s as local bar music and developed over the years absorbing new technologies and influences. In the '50s, amplification made it possible to combine acoustic elements, such as guitar melodies and solo singing from the older palm wine music, with full-force ensemble Yoruba drumming to create the rich, dense sound of modern juju. The top ambassador of juju, King Sunny Adé sparked an international Afropop invasion with his sensational tours in the early 1980s. KSA, as Nigerians know him, was just 17 when he eluded the expectations of his courtly family to pursue music playing in Lagos highlife bands. Soon, he latched on to the juju craze, forming his first band the Green Spots in '67. The group emulated the style of juju elder statesman I.K. Dairo and his Blue Spots, but by the time KSA launched the African Beats in '74, he had overshadowed Dairo and gone head-to-head with Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey.

Adé, with his percussive "synchro system," and Ebenezer, with his melodious "miliki" system, drove juju music to unprecedented heights as they competed to update the sound. Ebenezer introduced the three-guitar lineup and the trap drums; KSA overlaid a pedal steel guitar, and later synthesizers. But juju's core rested in percussion topped by eloquent talking drums, and in harmonized call-and-response vocals mixing Yoruba proverbs and Christian themes. Adé has a gentle, silky voice and diving, birdlike dance moves, which his four backup singers follow as part of the group's masterful stage choreography. With a tilt of his guitar, Adé damps his musicians down to a tap and a whisper, only to have them surge on cue with a rally of drums, shakers, bells and tangling guitars.
Returning to the USA in 2000, Adé recalled the legendary 1982 tour when he first introduced his expansive music to large American audiences. "Then I was a stranger," he said, "but now it's like we are all part of a family." […]
Born Sunday Adéniyi, the son of a Methodist minister, Adé left the religious path to pursue a musical career early on…» (Afropop, read more)

«After nearly 15 years as Nigeria's biggest musical draw and juju music's reigning monarch, King Sunny Ade went global in 1982 with a brief but fertile stint on the Mango label. The three albums that resulted – Juju Music, Synchro System, and Aura – gave Ade unprecedented exposure on the Western market and introduced a slew of music lovers to the sounds of Afro-pop. Juju Music was the first of Ade's Mango titles and remains the best of the lot. Over the course of seven extended cuts, King Sunny Ade & His African Beats lay down their trademark mix of talking drum-driven grooves, multi-guitar weaves, lilting vocal harmonies, and pedal steel accents; for this major-label debut, the band also chucks in some tasteful synthesizer bits and a few reggae-dub flourishes. Besides classic juju pop like "Ja Funmi" and "Ma Jaiye Oni," Ade and his 20-piece entourage serve up percussion breakdowns like "Sunny Ti de Ariya" and a heady blend of soul, dub, and synth noodlings on "365 Is My Number/The Message." Throughout, Ade deftly inserts Hawaiian slide guitar licks and Spanish-tinged lines reminiscent of Hendrix' "All Along the Watchtower." Juju Music should not only be the first-disc choice for Ade newcomers, but for the Afro-pop curious as well.» (AMG)

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7 comments:

Radu said...

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PhillieBuster said...

African super super superstar!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. Martin from Canada.

Anonymous said...

Excellent record & excellent blog. Thank you!

Erella Ganon said...

This was such an important album when it came out. It blew people's minds, changing how they listened to music.

Fantastic.

Thank you

Cosmo said...

had bought this on vinyl back in the eighties and have the cd today. still as fresh and mind-blowing as the first time i heard it. highly recommended!!!

great blog thanks for all the wonderful posts . . .

Anonymous said...

that sounds fresh! thank you very much!