- Audio CD (7 Sept. 2000)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Import Music Services
- ASIN: B000003QI0
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,631 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Quite possibly the most beautiful and influential West African record ever released internationally, Juju Music remains a revelation. With a phalanx of electric guitars that functions like a percussion section, and talking drums that sound like a gossipy Greek chorus, Nigerian juju star King Sunny Ade and His African Beats, all 20 of them, proved that African music could be as complex, dramatic, and symphonic as any European ensemble. Some thanks must go to French producer Martin Meissonier, who took the basic elements of Ade's sound--unison guitars, Yoruban drumming, seamless song medleys, and self-reflexive lyrics--and added a diverse assortment of Jamaican production techniques to heighten, deepen, and psychedelicize a sound that, with Ade's deliciously sweet vocals and the haunting strains of Demala Adepoju's Hawaiian steel guitar, was plenty wild to begin with. A masterpiece. --Richard Gehr
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Because of its denseness, the music can just wash over the listener, or, alternatively, its polyrhythmic complexity rewards repeated "hard" listening. (Personally, for headache relief I prefer lying down on a bed and listening to this disk to Tylenol.) The Yoruba lyrics run the gamut from the spiritual to the bawdy. (Sorry, no singing in "Nigerian" or paeans to "Ja," though.)
The follow-up disk "Synchro System" has a similar sound; subsequent incarnations of the band added keyboards; Demala Adepoju was replaced by a less accomplished pedal steel player; and in general the sound became more percussive as KSA's sound evolved toward "fuji" and other, "harder," styles. KSA still tours the US on occasion and if you see him now, you will probably be treated to a tougher sound (as well as some remarkable dancers)!
Every so often I hear some of this music used in commercial ads for Hawaiian vacations, which cracks me up. If you are getting your first juju music or fist Sunny Ade, I recommend this album. It is all good, but this album in particular is immediately accessible, yet stands up over time.
It's a cool CD to play at a party because it doesn't intrude or dominate, yet people are constantly stopping in mid-sentence and exclaiming, "Whoa! What IS that?" Getting 20 musicians on stage, all playing lead, yet not having a muddy, cluttered sound is an accomplishment in itself. The minimalist lead guitars (all five or six or them) blend into this rich polyphonic tapestry, yet the sound remains light, even sparse.
It really is beautiful, grand, but subtle. As complex as a symphony, yet as eazy as acoustic blues.
Thank you Mr. Chairman King Sunny Ade' for bringing your music to America; I've been loving this recording for close to 20 years now, and Im sure I will never tire of it.