There's much more music in Nigeria besides Fela Kuti, today in the spotlight the undisputed king of juju music. His music is in the age-old tradition of singing poetic lyrics ("ewi" in Yoruba) and praise of dignitaries as well components of Juju (traditional African belief) called the Ogede (casting a spell). Hence, Adé's music constitutes a record of the oral tradition of his people for posterity, plenty for you to ...N'joy
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Although his father was a church organist and his mother sang in the church choir, his parents rejected his musical aspirations. He was, after all, Nigerian royalty -- a prince in fact -- and a career in law seemed more appropriate. Sunny Ade started with percussion. At the age of seven, he would follow his mother to church and he liked to be in between those people playing percussion. From there, he started touching the drums. He began his musical career when he dropped out of school, at the age of 17, first joining the band of a traveling musical comedy troupe. Ade later moved to Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, where he joined a highlife (Nigerian dance music) band. Sunny Ade joined the Rhythm Dandies, led by Moses Olaiya (later known as Baba Sala). As his interest in his own Yoruban culture grew, however, Sunny Ade joined Juju bands. King Sunny was influenced by the legendary Tunde Nightingale (early Juju pioneer) and borrowed stylistic elements from Nightingale's 'So wa mbe' style of Juju.
Until civil war broke out in Nigeria in the 1960s, highlife was king, but as the band leaders, many of whom were from eastern Nigeria, headed home to join their Ibo compatriots, many stages were left to be filled. Juju ascended and Sunny Ade along with it. In 1966, Ade created his own group called the Green Spots Band and from then on refused to take orders. His first big hit, in 1967, was in honor of the local soccer team, the Stationery Stores Football Club. "Challenge Cup" sold over half a million copies, more than any Juju record had done before. Two and three best-selling albums have followed every year since, until, by 1976, Ade was chosen as best musician in Nigeria and called the King of Juju by his fans. It is a name he has held on to ever since.
Sunny Adé's music is characterised by, among other instruments, the talking drum - an instrument indigenous to his Yoruba roots, the guitar and his peculiar application to jùjú music, that would easily put him in the same class as guitar musicians like Santana. His music is in the age-old tradition of singing poetic lyrics ("ewi" in Yoruba) and praise of dignitaries as well components of Juju (traditional African belief) called the Ogede (casting a spell). Hence, Adé's music constitutes a record of the oral tradition of his people for posterity. Sunny Adé was the first to introduce the pedal steel guitar to Nigerian pop music. He was the first to introduce the use of synthesizers, clavinet, vibraphone, tenor guitar into the jùjú music repertoire such as dub and wah-wah guitar licks.
After eight years in which the the Green Spots Band recorded 12 LPs for the Nigerian Africa Song label, Ade decided to form his own record company in 1974. At that time he changed the name of his band to the African Beats. King Sunny Ade and The African Beats tour with a line-up of 20-30 members. They play a spacey, jamming sort of Juju, characterized by tight vocal harmonies, intricate guitar work, backed by traditional talking drums, percussion instruments, and even adding the unusual pedal steel guitar and accordion.
In the 1970s and 1980s Adé embarked on a tour of America and Europe where he played to mixed (both black and white) audiences, he was soon billed as the African Bob Marley. His stage act was characterised by dexterous dancing steps and mastery of the guitar. Trey Anastasio, American guitarist, composer and one of his devout followers, once said, "If you come to see Sunny Adé live, you must be prepared to groove all night." After more than a decade of resounding success in Africa, Adé was received to great acclaim in Europe and North America in 1982. The global release of Juju Music and its accompanying tour was "almost unanimously embraced by critics (if not consumers) everywhere". Adé was described by The New York Times' as "one of the world's great band leaders", and in Trouser Press as "one of the most captivating and important musical artists anywhere in the world".
His next album, Syncro System (1983), was equally successful and earned him his first Grammy Award nomination in the folk/ethnic music category.Beginning with Juju Music, Ade began gaining a wide following as Mango Records, a subsidiary of Island Records, released his albums. , and headlined concerts in the US. Soon after, Nigerian imports (mostly pirated copies) of his massive back catalog began flooding the Western market. Island, concerned about sales and Adé's refusal to include more English in his repertoire, cut him loose after his third LP for them featuring Stevie Wonder, 1984's Aura didnt live up to the bloated expectations they had. (As ever with these crooks its all about money not music). Sunny Adé has said in the past that his refusal to allow Island to meddle with his compositions and over-Europeanise and Americanise his music were the reasons why Island then decided to look elsewhere.
By the end of the 1980s, Ade's star began to dim, and his albums sold less, though he continued to garner critical acclaim and widespread popularity in Africa. In 1987, Sunny Adé returned to the international spotlight when Rykodisc released a live concert he did in Seattle and was given an astonishing embrace by fans across the globe who were eager for another international album release. He soon employed an American manager, Andrew Frankel, negotiated another three album record deal with the Mesa record label in America. One of these albums was 1998s Odu, a collection of traditional Yoruba songs, for which he was nominated for the second Grammy Award and thus making him the first African to be nominated twice for a Grammy.
At the beginning of another round of tour of the United States and Canada, Sunny Adé, now known as The Chairman in his home country, was appointed a visiting professor of music at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife. In July the same year King Sunny Adé was inducted into the Afropop Hall of Fame. Most deservedly Wiki lists no less then 123 albums most of which were never seen in the West, in fact there's no that much available at all...
Ade has remained a powerful force in Nigeria. Money received from his early albums has been used to launch an oil firm, a mining company, a nightclub, film and video production company, a PR firm and a record label specializing in recordings by African artists, running multiple companies in several industries, creating a non-profit organization called the King Sunny Adé Foundation, and working with the Musical Copyright Society of Nigeria.It's been estimated than more than seven hundred people are employed by Ade's companies.
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If you want to delve into Ade's work before Island tried to make him into a star in the 1980s, this is the perfect place to start. The tracks here, recorded between 1969 and 1974 for the Nigerian market, are the work not of a master in the making, but already formed. The easy groove of juju is apparent; the lengthy conversations between guitars and percussion are absolutely glorious. The band stretches out well, sliding from one piece to another, as on "Sunny Ti De," which lasts a wonderful 18 minutes, the lengthy five-minute introduction establishing the mood before vocals enter. While the recording quality is a bit hazy on some of the material, there's no denying the power of the music, including Ade's own guitar work, which is never less than glorious. Those who only know his later work will miss the pedal steel, which only appears on the 18-minute "Synchro System" (a track Ade would re-record a decade later), where it takes off smoothly like an airplane and the band churns behind. It's fresh, it's glorious, and the players are loving every second of it. Indeed, their joy is absolutely palpable throughout this disc -- they're having a blast. And so will the listener. This is Ade at a very early peak.
King Sunny Adé - The Classic Years (flac 449mb)
01 Sunny Ti De 5:30
02 Bombibete Horojo 5:26
03 Oro Towo Baseti 3:37
04 Ko Salapata 1:56
05 African Beats Lu Nsere 1:11
06 Synchro System (Complete Original Version) 18:12
07 Ibanuje Mon Iwon 13:56
08 Afai Bowon 6:40
09 Ogun Party Part 1 9:02
10 Adena Ike 5:35
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After nearly 15 years as Nigeria's biggest musical draw and juju music's reigning monarch, King Sunny Ade went global in 1982 with a brief but fertile stint on the Mango label. The three albums that resulted -- Juju Music, Synchro System, and Aura -- gave Ade unprecedented exposure on the Western market and introduced a slew of music lovers to the sounds of Afro-pop. Juju Music was the first of Ade's Mango titles and remains the best of the lot. Over the course of seven extended cuts, King Sunny Ade & His African Beats lay down their trademark mix of talking drum-driven grooves, multi-guitar weaves, lilting vocal harmonies, and pedal steel accents; for this major-label debut, the band also chucks in some tasteful synthesizer bits and a few reggae-dub flourishes. Besides classic juju pop like "Ja Funmi" and "Ma Jaiye Oni," Ade and his 20-piece entourage serve up percussion breakdowns like "Sunny Ti de Ariya" and a heady blend of soul, dub, and synth noodlings on "365 Is My Number/The Message." Throughout, Ade deftly inserts Hawaiian slide guitar licks and Spanish-tinged lines reminiscent of Hendrix' "All Along the Watchtower." Juju Music should not only be the first-disc choice for Ade newcomers, but for the Afro-pop curious as well.
King Sunny Ade and His African Beats - Juju Music (flac 298mb)
01 Ja Funmi 7:07
02 Eje Nlo Gba Ara Mi 7:17
03 Mo Beru Agba 3:27
04 Sunny Ti De Ariya 3:45
05 Ma Jaiye Oni 5:06
06 365 Is My Number / The Message 8:17
07 Samba / E Falabe Lewe 8:06
08 Ja Funmi Instrumental dub 7:13
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This U.K. two-fer reissue of 1983's Synchro System and Aura (on Cherry Red's T-Bird imprint) is comprised of the other two recordings in the band's Mango catalog (the band was dropped after sales of these two recordings proved disappointing to label bosses who tried to market Adé as "the new Bob Marley"). While not as qualitatively strong as Juju Music, these recordings are not without their merits -- and placing them on a single CD makes for a much more satisfying listening experience. The virtual guitar armies heard on both albums create a still unique sound well into the 21st century. Standout cuts on the first album include "Synchro Feelings," "Synchro System," and "E Wele." Adé is on lead guitar backed by three other guitarists: Bob Ohiri, Segun Hori, and John Akpan, as well as steel guitarist Demola Adepoju, a slew of talking drums, bass, and a backing chorus. Aura includes these three principal guitarists as well as some different personnel, though the band is just as large. This set's highlights include the hypnotic "Ase," the labyrinthine "Gboromiro," and the sprightly "Oremi." For those looking for remastered versions of these seminal albums.....
King Sunny Adé And His African Beats - Synchro System + Aura (flac 472mb)
01 Synchro Feelings-Ilako 5:37
02 Mo Ti Mo 5:30
03 Penkele 3:59
04 Maajo 4:07
05 Synchro System 6:27
06 E Saiye Re 3:28
07 Tolongo 3:18
08 E Wele 5:03
09 Synchro Reprise 1:27
10 Ase 9:12
11 Gboromiro 7:29
12 Ogunja 2:30
13 Oremi 6:59
14 Ire 5:00
15 Iro 6:32
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