King Sunny Ade and his Afrobeat orchestra on tour (and on disc)

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King Sunny Ade & his Afrobeat orchestra are on tour now in the US and there was a reissue cd late last year. Some of that cd is too mellow for me, but I love the extended mix of the funkier Synchro System. I saw he and 26 piece band back in 1988 do an incredible all night show in DC. The virtually all Nigerian audience was showing their support African-style--pasting dollar bills on the sweating foreheads of the musicians.

King Sunny, now 59 years old, is back an on tour in the US with his big band and is in DC at the Lincoln Theatre tonight.

steve-k, Friday, 25 March 2005 17:01 (fifteen years ago) link

I wonder what's he's been up to in recent years. After Island realized he wouldn't be the next Bob Marley way back in the 80s, his international profile dropped.

steve-k, Friday, 25 March 2005 17:14 (fifteen years ago) link

huh, for some reason I would've thought him older than 59. Are you going to the show? and do you happen to have a link to tour dates anywhere? lately I've been gobbling up the recent reissues on the funky-jewel-cased African Songs label.

Stormy Davis (diamond), Friday, 25 March 2005 17:22 (fifteen years ago) link

He put out some decent records in the 90s. Did you hear the Shanachie reissue of his early stuff from '03? I saw him a few years back and it was a great show. I'd encourage anyone to go, esp. since he's touring with the son of Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe.

Keith Harris (kharris1128), Friday, 25 March 2005 17:25 (fifteen years ago) link

KSA & OSADEBE Live - Atlanta
3/23/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Asheville
3/24/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Carrboro
3/25/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live -
Washington D.C.
3/26/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Philadelphia
3/29/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Albany
3/30/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Ottawa
3/31/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Toronto
4/2/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Detroit
4/7/05 KSA& OSADEBE Live - Milwaukee
4/8/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Madison
4/9/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Chicago
4/10/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Minneapolis
4/12/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Colorado
4/13/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Vail
4/16/05 KING SUNNY ADE - London
4/20/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Solana Beach
4/21/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Santa Cruz
4/22/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - San Francisco
4/23/05 KSA & OSADEBE Live - Los Angeles
4/30/05 KSA & OSADEBE - New York

Osadebe is the opening act. I'm going tonight.

steve-k, Friday, 25 March 2005 17:28 (fifteen years ago) link

Do you think using the name "Afrobeat" is a conscious marketing decision to capitalize on the recent popularity of Fela, Antibalas, etc.? I thought there were stylistic differences between the juju music he plays and afrobeat. But maybe he's used that name for a long time now, I don't know.

Hurting (Hurting), Friday, 25 March 2005 17:31 (fifteen years ago) link

i'm totally tempted to go see this, only, i have it in my head that i want to go on a date type thing, and i can't think of anyone to ask out. :-(

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Friday, 25 March 2005 17:31 (fifteen years ago) link

Yeah, you should totally take someone. Afrobeat/Juju is damn sexy music.

Hurting (Hurting), Friday, 25 March 2005 17:32 (fifteen years ago) link

I threw in the name Afrobeat above in a hurry by mistake. I think he once used that name way back when. Maybe, maybe not.

I think the Atlanta show was on the 18th.

steve-k, Friday, 25 March 2005 17:33 (fifteen years ago) link

hmm .. ok, yeah, he's coming to the Vic (!) 2 weeks. Damn I should go. I hate that place though. $30. Decisions...

Stormy Davis (diamond), Friday, 25 March 2005 17:33 (fifteen years ago) link

I think he's worth the big bucks. I wonder if the jam band and indie rock folks who like Antibalas will splurge for this...

Oh yeah Hurt, I know he's juju and not afrobeat.

steve-k, Friday, 25 March 2005 17:42 (fifteen years ago) link

Orchestra Baobab is actually playing two shows here tonight! $30 bucks each as well. The first one is completely sold out. But this is at a smaller venue than the Ade thing.

Stormy Davis (diamond), Friday, 25 March 2005 17:45 (fifteen years ago) link


Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Friday, 25 March 2005 17:47 (fifteen years ago) link

Hothouse -- 7:30 and 10:30, I believe...

Stormy Davis (diamond), Friday, 25 March 2005 17:49 (fifteen years ago) link

Orchestra Baobab were just outside of Washington D.C. at the Birchmere on March 19th. It was my son's birthday and I couldn't persuade him to celebrate it with Baobab. I saw them last year and their Afro-Cuban approach was wonderful.

I've often spent the big bucks to see African acts over the years. It hurts the old wallet a bit, but the shows are so worth it. I saw Bemeya Jazz do a great late-night performance before a tiny handful of people at a poorly advertised and pricey show in DC last year.

steve-k, Friday, 25 March 2005 18:02 (fifteen years ago) link

That's Bembeya Jazz. I haven't yet splurged for their recent retrospective cd.

steve-k, Friday, 25 March 2005 18:04 (fifteen years ago) link

The prices of these shows does hurt in establishing bigger audiences for these groups in the US.

steve-k, Friday, 25 March 2005 18:07 (fifteen years ago) link

Slint was $25 in DC, and King Sunny's not that much more than that--$30.

steve-k, Friday, 25 March 2005 18:44 (fifteen years ago) link

It's worth keeping in mind that it's much more expensive for a foreign group to tour the US, especially with a large band like the one I assume Sunny Ade uses. $30 is really not outrageous when you consider what theater tickets cost.

Hurting (Hurting), Friday, 25 March 2005 18:50 (fifteen years ago) link

I saw Sunny at Kilimanjaro in NYC back in about 1989 or 1990. He played for at least four hours, maybe more - I lost track of time eventually. Great, great show. I might have to go back this time.

pdf (Phil Freeman), Friday, 25 March 2005 19:54 (fifteen years ago) link

King Sunny Ade played from 11:50 p.m. to 2:35 a.m. at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington D.C. last night/this morning. Opener Prince Osadebe was a bit of a dissapoint. Not enough happening during his group's lengthy grooves. But King Sunny looked younger than 59, and his set was mostly very impressive.

King Sunny and his 13 or 14 piece band had a lot going on. Fantastic percussion(curved sticks hitting against handheld drums; congas; trap drum set); pedal steel player; King Sunny and another guitarist mixing in a tiny amount of Hendrix and rootsy bluesy touches(not cliched budweiser blooz) into their juju rhythms; keyboardist adding flourishes; plus
King Sunny and two singers offered almost South-African like harmonies and engaged in precise call and response exchanges. Not to mention their dancing. At about the hour and half point, Nigerians and others(a goofy white guy in leather pants) ascended the stage to dispense money to King Sunny and the band. Others just climbed onto the stage to dance. Ade, wasn't using his guitar during this segment, just singing praise-song like material with some accompaniment from the band. At some point the Theatre ushers got unhappy, and King Sunny had to ask folks to get off of the stage. He said something like "We're trying to do this like a Nigerian concert but they're not used to that, so for now we're going back to the American style." He strapped his guitar back on and the band did several more songs before some more Nigerians came onstage. One was a son of King Sunny, who he had sent off to America to go to college and live with his uncle. Then a guy with a little kid in a suit who was dancing up a storm at 2:30 a.m. Oh yeah, King Sunny brought out three women dancers for a few numbers who undulated their bellies and bottoms (everything actually).... Only a few people grumbled that the show didn't go to 3 a.m. as promised, and others left early--looking tired but happy.

steve-k, Saturday, 26 March 2005 16:37 (fifteen years ago) link

Go see 'em tonight in Philly folks. Keith Harris, give us a report here or on your blog, ok?

steve-k, Saturday, 26 March 2005 16:41 (fifteen years ago) link

where is this in nyc? is it already sold-out?

imbidimts, Saturday, 26 March 2005 18:57 (fifteen years ago) link

They're saving NYC for the end of the tour on 4-30. Check that rock paper scissors link in Keith's post near the top for specifics on the NYC location.

steve-k, Saturday, 26 March 2005 20:20 (fifteen years ago) link

Doh! It was King Sunny Ade and his African Beats!

Steve-k (Steve K), Sunday, 27 March 2005 02:36 (fifteen years ago) link

So no ILMers saw the Atlanta, Asheville, or Carrboro shows? I checked over at but they're just into Congolese music , not Nigerian. Oh well.

Steve-k (Steve K), Sunday, 27 March 2005 15:58 (fifteen years ago) link

Here's a excerpt from something I found online about the Atlanta show:

By Femi Ajayi:

"What was so beguiling about the show was a young lady who thought she could twists, shakes, or coils whatever God gives her, better than King Sunny Ade. At a point the young lady melted to the crowd and gave up 'competing' with Sunny Ade on the stage. At that point Sunny came up with one of his favorites, "Baby yi, o le pa mi layo, bo si gbangba ka joooooooooo!" Meaning that the lady should get back if she thinks she can competes with him in his moves. Sunny proved her and anyone else at that gathering that he is still on top of his show.

Another tantalizing part of the show was the three lady-dancers, especially one of them that have the body that a typical African man is crazy about, including Sunny Ade, who whispered to one of his band, 'onisekuse'. Nigerian men, especially the Yoruba speaking part of Nigeria, love to see a lady blessed with what Sunny Ade refers to as, 'Shiki shiki', 'Osuru Oke', and 'Ikebe' to match. Regardless the size of her body, she moved her body as if there is no bone in it. Like my wife always say in Yoruba, 'alara ki ito bi kio malegbe'. That is, the body is never too heavy for the individual not to carry it around. As this lady continued to move her body, "God have mercy", was what someone remarked from the audience. She is a star. "

Steve-k (Steve K), Sunday, 27 March 2005 16:28 (fifteen years ago) link

On africaonline they're talking about how some Nigerian music is influenced by Congolese music. I wonder if anybody there will just give Ade his due.

steve-k, Sunday, 27 March 2005 23:33 (fifteen years ago) link

ok i think i know who to ask to this

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Monday, 28 March 2005 03:31 (fifteen years ago) link

Washington Post review:

Monday, March 28, 2005; Page C04

King Sunny Ade

The advance publicity for Nigerian singer-guitarist King Sunny Ade's current U.S. tour promised two innovations: the unprecedented pairing of the Yoruba musician with an Igbo one, Prince Obi Osadebe, and Ade's first stateside foray into "praise singing," in which a vocalist exalts a notable spectator who in exchange "sprays" the performer with money. Neither novelty was the highlight of Ade's frequently exhilarating concert Friday night (and Saturday morning) at the Lincoln Theatre.

Ade and his 14-piece band began to perform a little before midnight and continued for nearly three hours. At any given moment, as many as eight of the musicians played percussion, providing an intricate pulse that never flagged. Atop these polyrhythms, Ade arrayed his sweet tenor and jaunty, high-pitched guitar, which were supplemented by call-and-response chants and -- unusual in African music -- a steel guitar. Twice during the show, the band was joined by three women dancers who snaked their hips to sultry Ade riffs.

About an hour of the concert was devoted to praise singing and spraying, which nearly becalmed the music. Thronged by admirers, Ade was nearly invisible to most of the audience, and half the band simply stood around as he sang.

Fortunately, the percussionists kept going, chattering briskly on congas, talking drum and other instruments until Ade strapped on his guitar again.

He then played for another half-hour, but didn't quite recapture the momentum of the earlier set. More praise singing led finally to a statement of support for democracy in Nigeria and a quick departure. Ade didn't exactly end on a high note, but there were plenty of those before the show gradually unraveled.

Osadebe, , who performed for about an hour, was backed by a five-piece band that couldn't rival the headliner's instrumental complexity.

Despite a vivid red-and-green robe and a frequently employed shimmy, he was at a disadvantage in stage presence.

-- Mark Jenkins

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

steve-k, Monday, 28 March 2005 13:32 (fifteen years ago) link

Back in Nigeria news.....Africa News March 22, 2005 Tuesday

Copyright 2005 AllAfrica, Inc.
Africa News

March 22, 2005 Tuesday

HEADLINE: Nigeria;
Laurels Made in Nigeria

It was almost three hours of cheers, hugging, backslapping, thrills and frills at the maiden edition of the Nigeria Entertainment Award on Sunday, March 6. The venue -- Ikeja-based Sheraton Hotel and Towers -- was capacity-filled. The hall was abuzz with the chatter of the entertainment crowd.

For an event on its maiden edition, the awards ceremony was however ambitious. The five categories of Media, Movies, Music, Comedy and Special Recognition Award were replete with a lengthy list of awards.

In the Music category, the award winners were African Queen (Song of the Year), Kennis Music (Best Record Label of the Year), Oruka by Sonny Nneji (Best Music Video), Ruggedman (Best Rap Artiste), Lagbaja (Most Innovative male artiste), Ara (most innovative female artistes) Jimmy Jatt (DJ of the year) Keke & D1 (Most Entertaining Music presenters.

The organisers gave out special recognition awards to icons such as Ali Baba, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Wale Adenuga, Ben Murray Bruce, King Sunny Ade, Charley Boy, K-I Ultimate, and Joke Jacobs.

steve-k, Monday, 28 March 2005 15:39 (fifteen years ago) link

Keith Harris weighs in on his blog:

-KSA was indeed the steppes of Russia, the pants on the Roxy usher, etc. He and his 657 band members (about 735 of whom are percussionists of one sort of another) took the stage around quarter-to-twelve and probably left many hours after I was home in bed, put to shame by nattily robed Nigerians nearly twice my age. And younger, to be fair—the crowd was pretty broadly dispersed as far as age. There were a smattering of white folks there too—hippies doing that damn hoppety-hop of theirs, some fairly limber student-types, and some appreciatively sedentary arts professionals. (Not that, erm, I noticed any of this stuff—that’d be doing King Sunny a disservice, nah?)

Prince Ibo was less exciting—fairly standard issue professional Afropop, a jaded observer might remark. Then again, who gets to see enough West African bands a year to be jaded? (Aside from, you know, West Africans.) But just as impressive as the main attraction was the Legendary Blue Horizon, which has a vaulted ceiling that is indeed very blue—sky-blue, to be exact. It’s used for boxing matches these days, and from what I could gather (though I couldn’t gather much, online or from anyone in attendance) it was a hopping live music venue back when North Philly was the sort of area that supported hopping live music venues. I hope they hold more shows like this in the future.

Steve-k (Steve K), Wednesday, 30 March 2005 04:35 (fifteen years ago) link

Any upstate Ny or Canadian juju fans in da house? How was King Sunny up there?

steve-k, Wednesday, 30 March 2005 12:54 (fifteen years ago) link

Anybody else see him and wanna tell us about it?

steve-k, Tuesday, 5 April 2005 12:34 (fifteen years ago) link

My King Sunny Ade interview:

Pete Scholtes, Wednesday, 6 April 2005 15:48 (fifteen years ago) link

I have a couple of his albums and love them to bits. I'm thinking about going to see him in London next week.

Japanese Giraffe (Japanese Giraffe), Thursday, 7 April 2005 20:48 (fifteen years ago) link

If you love his albums to bits, JG, there's nothing to think about, trust me. Go!

Keith Harris (kharris1128), Thursday, 7 April 2005 20:57 (fifteen years ago) link

Thanks Keith. Synchro System is an album I still listen to regularly after, what is it, 20 years or so.

Japanese Giraffe (Japanese Giraffe), Thursday, 7 April 2005 21:02 (fifteen years ago) link

Nice interview Peter.

I wonder if Matt C. caught one of the Wisconsin shows?

Steve-k (Steve K), Friday, 8 April 2005 03:55 (fifteen years ago) link

King Sunny's heading to Chicago and Minneapolis next...

steve-k, Friday, 8 April 2005 12:15 (fifteen years ago) link

Anybody see any of the midwest shows?

Sasha Frere-Jones has the King Sunny Synchro Series compilation thing on his top 10 list now.

Steve-k (Steve K), Tuesday, 12 April 2005 04:18 (fifteen years ago) link

I was miserably sick this weekend, but got drugged up and went to an hour of Sunday night's show at the Cabooze in Minneapolis at around midnight, timing it so that I caught all Sunny Ade music before the "spraying" portion of his set began--the least exciting part, musically, though this was the first time I saw white folks get up there with stacks of bills (the effect of the PR campaign?).

I loved the guitar, as usual, and Ade's dancing. There was no way I could miss this.

Pete Scholtes, Tuesday, 12 April 2005 09:02 (fifteen years ago) link

At the music forum on the King Sunny thread has lots of postings about Congolese musicians visiting Nigeria, and their influence. It's interesting despite the disdainful attitude they have there for non-Congolese music.

steve-k, Tuesday, 12 April 2005 17:05 (fifteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
Anybody else see him on tour and want to share your thoughts?

steve-k, Wednesday, 27 April 2005 10:34 (fifteen years ago) link

Left Coasters, how was it?

steve-k, Friday, 29 April 2005 13:00 (fifteen years ago) link

I bet the final show in New York will be great...

steve-k, Friday, 29 April 2005 13:01 (fifteen years ago) link

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved
Los Angeles Times

April 23, 2005 Saturday

It's OK to toss cash at royalty;
King Sunny Ade doesn't mind if you shower him with greenbacks. In fact, he'll play until 4 a.m. to show his gratitude.

by Richard Cromelin, Times Staff Writer


The musicians in King Sunny Ade's band have many talents. They can play his polyrhythmic pieces for hours with unflagging spirit and precision. They look sharp in their patterned Nigerian garments. They're able to dance when called upon and are always ready with an infectious smile.

And on Wednesday they showed their skill at scooping up the money that fluttered to the floor of the stage during the group's concert at the Belly Up Tavern here. This abundant currency was presented to singer-guitarist Ade by audience members who approached him as he played and, with great ceremony, either showered the greenbacks over him like confetti or stuck them to his perspiring forehead.

This custom, known as "spraying" or "dashing," is rarely enacted outside of its African setting, but Ade, one of the biggest international stars in African music for more than two decades, is including it as an added attraction on his first U.S. tour in several years. The opening act is an exponent of eastern Nigeria's highlife music, Prince Obi Osadebe.

"A lot of people really wanted to see how we normally do it in Nigeria, in our parties and Nigerian concerts," Ade, 58, said backstage before Wednesday's show. "Many people said they saw it on TV or a video ... so my management said I should include it .... We started doing it and everybody really enjoys it. It has been going very well."

The tour will stop tonight at the Vanguard in Hollywood, where Ade will introduce locals to another regular feature of his performances back home: He'll play until 4 in the morning.

The spraying and the "praise singing" -- in which the performer reciprocates by singing flattering words about his benefactors -- are part of the musical/social fabric in Nigeria. At parties held for naming ceremonies, weddings, business openings and other occasions, people's prominence is often measured by the exchange.

"It's a sign of respect, and it's also a means of getting the singer to sing your praise," says CC Smith, editor of the Los Angeles-based world music magazine the Beat. "It actually is a demonstration of status -- showing off your wealth makes you the big man or top dog in the society. The more you can give away, the richer you are considered. And then, of course, the singer starts singing your praises for all to hear.

"I've been to shows where they've done nothing but. People were virtually lining up to throw money on the singer, and the whole song was talking about whoever was currently pasting the money on his head."

At the Belly Up, the spraying began about halfway through the nearly two-hour show, when a man in an African-design shirt danced up to Ade and began tucking bills into his collar and pressing them against his head. Three women soon joined him, and they remained on stage and danced after bestowing their cash.

Ade stood at the side of the stage and faced them as he began the praise singing. At Nigerian parties the singer knows a lot about the people he's addressing, but here it appeared more impromptu. At one point one of the women whispered to a backup singer, who in turn said something to Ade, presumably some information for him to incorporate in his lyrics.

Ade sings in the Yoruba language, so while the words themselves might have been foreign to the predominantly non-African audience, the intimacy and spontaneity of this moment were mesmerizing, all the more so because it was delivered with dazzling rhythmic complexity and precision.

That's been the hallmark of King Sunny Ade's juju music for decades, and his sound is as fresh and vibrant in 2005 as it was when he made his initial splash in the U.S.

At the Belly Up, the size of the stage limited his lineup to 14 players (with three vivacious female dancers occasionally squeezing in to shake their stuff), but with a phalanx of drums behind three electric guitars and keyboards, they mounted the same rippling, intricate, effervescent kind of grooves that first endeared him to Western audiences.

Ade was already a star in Nigeria when his fame began to spread in Europe in the early '80s. He signed with Island Records and was presented to the world as an emissary of a great Third World music, somewhat in the tradition of Bob Marley.

Ade wasn't political like Marley, but his influence has been profound on the international spread of African music and the growth of world music as a vital genre.

Though his prominence here faded after the initial wave, when he and his band headlined such venues as the Hollywood Palladium and the Greek Theatre, Ade has nothing but good memories about those times.

"I'd been longing to let the whole world hear my music, juju music, and it was like a door opener for me from Island Records," he said backstage Wednesday. "It was like a new thing to the Western world, and they gave me an opportunity to play it live....

"They opened the door not only for me but for other African musicians and all African music.... And the people here are still liking it."

steve-k, Friday, 29 April 2005 16:17 (fifteen years ago) link

two years pass...

love this dude

sanskrit, Saturday, 29 September 2007 04:44 (thirteen years ago) link

I think various old efforts of his are being reissued

curmudgeon, Sunday, 30 September 2007 03:45 (thirteen years ago) link

one month passes...

Was there ever a proper Search and Destroy on King Sunny Ade?

If not, lets.

I've loved everything I've heard, but I don't know what any of it was as i lost it all in hard-drive crash. The Juju Music LP on Island just arrived in the post, as that seemed a good place to start.

Jamie T Smith, Friday, 2 November 2007 12:11 (thirteen years ago) link

Last time I saw him I don't think he played guitar ...

Josh in Chicago, Sunday, 21 June 2015 22:49 (five years ago) link

In 2009 the last time they were in the US, he did not play the guitar because he had just hurt his shoulder

curmudgeon, Monday, 22 June 2015 03:47 (five years ago) link

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. They couldn't get the visas approved, so the Howard Theatre tells me the whole tour is now cancelled(DC, NY etc.)

curmudgeon, Monday, 22 June 2015 16:17 (five years ago) link

Musician visas are some really vexing bullshit. Seems like every year there's someone who doesn't make it to Winnipeg Folk Fest because of this.

Half as cool as Man Sized Action (Dan Peterson), Monday, 22 June 2015 16:36 (five years ago) link

dang, was planning on seeing him next month in boulder...

tylerw, Monday, 22 June 2015 16:42 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

King Sunny Ade was so great early this morning. At the show near Baltimore, they didn't come onstage till 1 am and were still onstage going at 3:25 am when my wife and I headed out (I had to get up early to work, a long drive, etc). The show was most impressive from 1 am to 2:40 am or so when the 12 piece group plus King Sunny were doing call & response vocals, guitar, percussion, keys and more grooves, and coordinated choreographed dancing. At 2:40 am it was praise song time, with Nigerians coming onstage to throw money at and paste it on King Sunny Ade while also requesting recitation of their names. King Sunny did not play guitar at the beginning of the night or during the praise song portion, but there was a long middle stretch where he did. He's about to turn 70 and was energetic.

The promoter as I mentioned before did a lousy job getting the word out about this gig. There were only around 50 people there (mostly Nigerian) some who paid $150 (regular standing room price was $50). The 3 times I have seen him over the years in DC there was always at least 1,000 there. This gig was supposed to start at 8:30, but the opener Elikeh didn't start till 11 pm.

― curmudgeon, Saturday, July 9, 2016 7:04 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

curmudgeon, Saturday, 9 July 2016 20:20 (four years ago) link

four months pass...

I just heard Aura for the 1st time tonight, it is amazing.

calzino, Friday, 18 November 2016 23:01 (four years ago) link

That's a good one

curmudgeon, Saturday, 19 November 2016 18:38 (four years ago) link

three years pass...

This is such a jam

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 5 February 2020 19:25 (nine months ago) link

yesssss. one of the best albums ever made.

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Wednesday, 5 February 2020 19:27 (nine months ago) link

yknow I've been thinking I wanna get Juju music… but being that it's Island's "we need another Bob M" gambit, is there any sense that it's somewhat cleaned up, sell-outish, for the international market? or would the below be better for a beginner?

veronica moser, Wednesday, 5 February 2020 20:53 (nine months ago) link

best of the classic years is great too. I just love the dubby early 80s electronic production flourishes on Juju Music. I have a strong aversion to "cleaned up" intl market sht but just listen to it and I'd be shocked if you deem it as such.

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Wednesday, 5 February 2020 21:00 (nine months ago) link

All three of his Island albums — Juju Music, Synchro System (my favorite) and Aura — are great, as are the compilations Best of the Classic Years and Gems From the Classic Years. Of the three Island records, Aura is the most "let's make this guy a pop star" — Stevie Wonder plays harmonica on it, and some of the tracks have a very electro/hip-hop sound. (There were even 12" dance singles issued.)

but also fuck you (unperson), Wednesday, 5 February 2020 21:12 (nine months ago) link

I don't find anything particularly "cleaned up" about it, and I think it's worth questioning the assumption that something exclusively for an African audience would be less "cleaned up" than something aimed at the international market. There's a ton of afropop from the 80s that was primarily marketed within its home country that sounds much "cleaner" to my ears than this record.

That said, I found the Classic Years to be an easier gateway for me back in my college days as a guy whose musical trajectory was classic rock/grunge/hardcore---> jazz ----> rare funk and soul ---> fela

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 5 February 2020 21:13 (nine months ago) link

fwiw, some commentary from the wiki article on this very subject:

When Adé agreed, he was teamed with Martin Meissonnier, a French record producer who advised that the typical long song structures of Nigerian music would not work for Western audiences. Accordingly, Adé divided a number of his Nigerian hits for international release, a task he found unchallenging. He later explained that "In Nigeria, we got used to non-stop recording, about 18 to 20 minutes of music. But over here, the music should be track-by-track for the radio and the dance floor. It's like making a dress. One by one, the different pieces are joined together, but you can still see the lines where they meet".


Although Meissonnier altered the song structure, he did not alter Adé's style.[7] To Westerners, Adé's music seemed eclectic, with reviewers of Juju Music commenting variously on the mingling of "the spacey mixing techniques of Jamaican dub" into Adé's "Nigerian polyrhythms",[8] and—even more minutely—on the "echoes of old reggae in its lean guitar riffs, salsa in its Yoruban drum patterns, country in the steel-guitar playing, dub in the music's wide-open holes, folk and calypso in its gentle singing and the Grateful Dead and jazz in its long jams"

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Wednesday, 5 February 2020 21:18 (nine months ago) link

^^ this

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 5 February 2020 21:20 (nine months ago) link

Re Juju

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 5 February 2020 21:21 (nine months ago) link

Juju is a great one no matter what, I mean

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 5 February 2020 21:22 (nine months ago) link

Completely agree about the Island records. I love Juju Music the most, the dubby production is super sweet. Aura kind of shades into 80s Miles territory for me -- not a bad thing, but not as smooth as Juju Music or Synchro System. Glad to have the recommendations for the compilations -- I've never heard em.

stop torturing me ethel (broom air), Thursday, 6 February 2020 01:44 (nine months ago) link

ok, so I'll get Juju music, but if I wanna get one comp that covers the pre Island shit, which should I get?

veronica moser, Thursday, 6 February 2020 14:05 (nine months ago) link

Start with Best of the Classic Years; Gems From the Classic Years is a sequel that covers the same era.

but also fuck you (unperson), Thursday, 6 February 2020 14:18 (nine months ago) link

If you find a used vinyl copy of Aura, buy it.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 6 February 2020 14:30 (nine months ago) link

A lot of the non-Island albums from the very late 70s and early to mid 80s are fantastic and, while not too dissimilar from Juju Music in basic sound, in a lot of ways are more enveloping listens than the Island albums: The Golden Mercury of Africa, The Message, Check ‘E’, Iyinle Odu, Bobby, Ajoo, Explosion, Togetherness, Sweet Banana.
And that’s not even all of them.

I mean at some level they’re somewhat indistinguishable but that also means you can’t really go wrong. My favourite is Bobby for what it’s worth.

Tim F, Thursday, 6 February 2020 16:10 (nine months ago) link

Agreed, Bobby is great. Also a big recommnedation for Searching For My Love.

Having never heard of King Sunny Ade and having no context or knowledge of these kind of sounds, hearing him appear on UK TV around 1982 or 83 (on The Tube) was a genuinely mind blowing musical experiences that left me totally gobsmacked and altered my musical taste forever.

stirmonster, Thursday, 6 February 2020 17:21 (nine months ago) link

Revisiting his discography, I find Aura to be his best album. It's not on spotify but the full thing is on youtube. If you haven't heard it please do:

✖✖✖ (Moka), Saturday, 15 February 2020 20:04 (nine months ago) link

Stevie Wonder plays on the first track too!

✖✖✖ (Moka), Saturday, 15 February 2020 20:05 (nine months ago) link

It's on Spotify as a twofer with Synchro System:

Ngolo Cantwell (Chinaski), Sunday, 16 February 2020 11:25 (nine months ago) link

Aura is so good, in my slsk folder I split it from the Synchro System twofer - which although the latter is good enough, Aura is a standalone classic that shouldn't be twofered!

calzino, Sunday, 16 February 2020 11:44 (nine months ago) link

i agree aura > synchro system, tho it was received poorly at the time in the uk and sold poorly, hence island's quitting the project iirc

the uk constituency for "world pop" in the mid-80s (not that it was called this yet) was often shamingly authenticist and often actually quite patronising in its attitudes -- and i think KSA's filt-tilt exploration of the potential of the most up-to-date new-pop studio tech distressed this crowd w/o finding crossover support elsewhere. it's a pity bcz i think there was a fruitful tension between the collective rhythm-base of juju and the digital clocktime precision of how the studio tech tended to understand its cuts and edits -- i wish he'd been able to explore it more deeply

mark s, Sunday, 16 February 2020 12:13 (nine months ago) link

two months pass...

have been trying to fill out my KSA collection and ordered one of the earlier LPs on discogs. seller sent the wrong disc by accident. so i got this instead:

it's ... so fucking awesome.

budo jeru, Monday, 27 April 2020 04:04 (seven months ago) link


budo jeru, Monday, 27 April 2020 04:33 (seven months ago) link

uncle toye ajagun "vol. 3" 1976

a lot more low end on the LP than here btw

budo jeru, Monday, 27 April 2020 04:35 (seven months ago) link

Don't know that name but like his juju in the video

curmudgeon, Monday, 27 April 2020 05:24 (seven months ago) link

six months pass...

Total newbie here. Picked up "Bobby" on a chance and it's really hitting the spot for a mellow yet uplifting listen. Feel like I could leave it on loop forever and not get tired of it. Where should I go next?

cooldix, Saturday, 21 November 2020 05:38 (one week ago) link

Perhaps try some of the other albums from around that era. I’m particularly partial to ‘Explosion’ (that and ‘Bobby’ are my go-to picks) but ‘Iyinle Odu’, ‘Ajoo’ and ‘Togetherness’ are also great albums from that time. The only issue is that it can be difficult to keep them separate in yr head.

Tim F, Saturday, 21 November 2020 06:04 (one week ago) link

Thanks Tim F - I'll seek out "Explosion" once "Bobby" runs its course (that could be a while yet!).

cooldix, Saturday, 21 November 2020 08:11 (one week ago) link

Fela documentary on BBC2 today:

Ward Fowler, Saturday, 21 November 2020 09:04 (one week ago) link

folks: vols. 9 & 10

budo jeru, Monday, 23 November 2020 03:52 (five days ago) link

meant to post here the other day and forgot. haven't read the thread (will do so eventually) but wanted to chime in with my preference for the "african beats" records, vols. 7 and 9 & 10 (released i think as a 2xLP). those and the green spot band "master guitarist" series 1-6 are my favorite KSA. reverb-drenched guitars, hypnotic unison vocal lines, and dense percussion grooves that link multiple tunes over a side-long track: that to me is the essential king sunny. i do like the stuff on island / mango, of course

budo jeru, Monday, 23 November 2020 03:57 (five days ago) link

these sides just seem to go on forever. and the chiming, cascading guitar lines ... just straight into my veins please, yes, don't care if the guitars are out of tune tbh

budo jeru, Tuesday, 24 November 2020 02:12 (four days ago) link

I feel like the sunny ade thread should have a “NO FELA” sign like the “no stairway” sign in Wayne’s World.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Tuesday, 24 November 2020 03:49 (four days ago) link

I for one I’m happy I was alerted to this doc this way - in which KSA was namechecked btw, so full circle

Running up that hill but fleeting (a deal with Gop) (breastcrawl), Tuesday, 24 November 2020 18:50 (four days ago) link

fwiw, I never heard the guitars as "out of tune," I just kinda assumed they were not in just temperament and probably tuned by ear closer to the way the instruments in the precursors of juju music were

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Tuesday, 24 November 2020 19:01 (four days ago) link

I'll forever praise the wonderful bout of enthusiast record collectors' Blogspot-site vinyl rips in '08 or so - I discovered Adé's African-made records that way. I was not bowled over by 'Juju Music' but these side-long jams I totally got down with it. 'Bobby' is my go-to album too, closely followed by this one:

One of these days I'm finally going to check out 'Aura'. I've heard good things about that one.

Max Florian, Wednesday, 25 November 2020 00:29 (three days ago) link

xp to man alive, i'm talking specifically about the guitars on vol. 7 and in a few other select spots. to my ears there's definitely something going on that isn't sitting right, but that's not something i hear in all of KSA by any means

otm re: blogspot era

budo jeru, Wednesday, 25 November 2020 01:16 (three days ago) link

I was at the Musical Instruments Museum in Phoenix (highly recommended) a couple years ago with my parents and it has a display of one of KSA's outfits and a blurb about him. My mom is a total square and not into music more than the average person so I was pretty surprised she knew who he was. I guess then he did have a brief moment in the international spotlight before my time.

A True White Kid that can Jump (Granny Dainger), Wednesday, 25 November 2020 01:39 (three days ago) link

another favorite that i first came across in the blogspot years:

Vol 4 Late General Ramat Muritala Mohammed

budo jeru, Wednesday, 25 November 2020 15:53 (three days ago) link

great fuzz @ 22:47 !

budo jeru, Wednesday, 25 November 2020 16:01 (three days ago) link

whoa yeah! and the wah-wah before that likewise!

Max Florian, Thursday, 26 November 2020 13:05 (two days ago) link

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