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World Music CD Reviews Africa


Published May 5, 2006

Synchro Series

It’s slightly surprising King Sunny Adé still hasn’t captured Western ears at a larger level. Then again, consider it wasn’t until after Fela’s departure that Afrobeat blew up globally. Juju music—a style defined and redefined many times over by Adé—doesn’t grip the hips so snugly, but it’ll move ya the same. With some 100-plus albums to his credit, the Nigerian native who defied his parents with his involvement in the ’60s samba scene turned down the juice, laid back on the steel/slide/reggae/blues guitar riffs underscored by meditatively hypnotic bass lines and drum kicks, and there you have it: five scores of records, that, if played linearly, could make one damn long song. In fact, Synchro Series uses only five but fills an hour that’s never tiresome. There’s something equally lulling in his Yoruba lyricism, pinging and ponging call-and-response style, to counter the psychedelic free-for-all his six-string tangents evoke. With a swarm of collections just hitting shelves over the past year, it seems prime time for America to get Adé with it; Synchro Series is as good a place as any to begin.