King Sunny Ade
Odu, Mesa/Atlantic Records CD 92796-2, 1998
Beating the juju drum
Do you remember when African music was the flavor of the month? World music was
the uncharted territory for the Western music fan, and it required immediate
Columbus-like discovery by every self-respecting rock music fan. Of course,
music is a lot like fashion (in some cases, too much like fashion), and often
one form is dropped like a hot potato the moment something new and dazzling
King Sunny Ade was once called the Bob Marley of African music by the fickle
adoring media. And while hes no longer followed as closely as he once
was, given the short attention span of the pop music populace, hes still
just as amazing and mysterious as hes always been.
Thankfully, "Odu" contains a superb booklet that provides an
introduction to the man and his music for first-timers, as well as a lyric
sheet with the words in both Nigerian and English.
Ade draws his songs from old parables, the current social-political climate in
his homeland, and from his thoughts and feelings about his God. The sound of
his music, on the other hand, is purely a physical thing.
Continuing on with his band, The African Beats, Ade mesmerizes with a stew of
African drums, rhythmic electric guitars, tasteful organ fills and chanted
vocals. "Jigi Jigi Isapa" expresses the purpose of these sounds best
with these words: "Help me beat the fantastic drum/for my backside to
shake." Hey, isnt that the same thing James Brown has been saying
for the past forty years or so?
He may not be at the top of the hipsters guest list anymore, but he still
has the perfect medicine for the dancers hips, so come along with Ade and
"beat the fantastic drum." Dan MacIntosh