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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 comes along.

King Sunny Ade was once called the Bob Marley of African music by the fickle adoring media. And while he’s no longer followed as closely as he once was, given the short attention span of the pop music populace, he’s still just as amazing and mysterious as he’s 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, isn’t 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

Copyright © 1998 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.