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World Music CD Reviews Africa

OLATUNJI

By Tom Orr
Published February 17, 2006

Drums Of Passion
Columbia/Legacy

How does one reassess an album already critically praised, commercially successful and highly influential for more than four decades? As legions of African music fans already know, Babatunde Olatunji's Drums Of Passion was released in 1960, and it made African music come resoundingly alive in a United States that was largely clueless previously. It was unlike anything ever heard (or recorded) on American soil, with an array of percussion and voices soaring to stratospheric heights of sound, showing the modern world that the rhythms of the ancient cultures that helped build it were alive and ready to provide listening enjoyment so old it was new. This reissue contains the additional track "Menu Di Ye Jewe," recorded during the original 1959 sessions and unreleased in the U.S. until now. It fits comfortably, with its rising/falling percussion storm and deliciously primal vocal attack.