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World Music CD Reviews Africa

KING SUNNY ADE

By MARIE ELSIE ST. LÉGER
Published April 19, 2006

King Sunny Ade: The Best Of The Classic Years
Shanachie

The West has been privy to King Sunny Ade’s work only since 1982; after his signing to Island Records, he was groomed for international superstardom. That didn’t happen, but Ade’s musicianship and electrifying live shows did endear him to audiences worldwide. The Best Of The Classic Years gives us a taste of Ade’s early music, not readily available outside Nigeria. Ade long ago mastered juju, the dance music of Nigeria born of West Africa’s palm wine music and grounded in the heady days of independence and prosperity of the 1960s and ’70s. Between 1967 and 1974, no band was more popular than Sunny Ade and His African Beats. Ade mesmerized with his guitar and intoxicated with undulating beats. His music was not for the weak-footed. Numbers like “Sunny Ti De” and “Synchro System” ran more than 17 minutes (longer during his many live performances in Lagos), and even the shorter cuts like “Ogun Party Part 1” (at nine minutes!) wouldn’t let dancers rest until the talking drums, bass, sticks and, of course, Ade’s electric guitar and lead vocals vibrated their last. 30 years later, Ade grooves on.