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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A landmark in African popular music, February 28, 2003
This review is from: Drums of Passion (Audio CD)
Listened back to from the vantage point of a world exposed to several glorious decades of "world music," this stark set of percussion-based songs by Nigerian expatriate Babatunde Olatunji may seem a bit plain and untextured. Still, the fact that it's sold over five million copies since it first came out in 1960 shows that there was a hunger among the American record buying public for something new, and more importantly, something authentic. By the time Olatunji's album came out, the jazz world had already spent over a decade searching for some "new sound" or another to inject into the mix: mambo-inspired Latin riffs swept through the bebop scene in the late '40s, grandiose composers such as Stan Kenton and Duke Ellington had pawed through the cutures of Cuba, Spain, Asia and Brazil, looking for new melodies and modes to work with. But, as they say, there's nothing like the real thing. Olantuji's primally arrangely drumming, with its brusque muscularity and vibrant call-and-response chants, certainly delivered the goods on that front. The album's euphoric new liner notes place this release, a bit preposterously, at the center of all "world music-y" changes in jazz, rock and pop (even ahistorically claiming its seminal influence on Brazilian "batucada" drumming)... The triumphalist tone of the author can be taken with a grain of salt, but this album certainly marks a major landmark in the history of global musical culture... And fans of African drumming will be dazzled to hear the brightly remastered sound of the newly-expanded CD version. Definitely worth checking out!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended!, April 10, 2005
This review is from: Drums of Passion (Audio CD)
When I first listened to this CD, I was impressed. The second time I listened to it, I was even more impressed. It just keeps getting better. All the songs on here are great. They have a great feel to them - they are upbeat and happy. You'll have these songs stuck in your head all day. The drumming on here is complex and interesting. It keeps you listening. The vocals are all in an African language, and I think this is very pleasant to listen to. Although it doesn't say, I believe this CD is in HDCD format. I first heard about this CD in National Geographic magazine in the section called 'My Seven.' The Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart discussed his favorite world music CD's and this was one of them. I am more of a rock fan, but I greatly appreciate instumental music. I started liking instrumental music even more after I bought this CD. So overall, this great CD has opened my eyes to a world of great music. I highly recommend it to anyone who is a jazz fan or any instrumental music fan. Also for anyone who just wants something to have something to relax to, or even to a Grateful Dead fan (if you like their "Drums").
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the beginning, July 26, 2006
This review is from: Drums of Passion (Audio CD)
Before World Music existed as a genre, Babatunde Olatunji released this ground breaking disc. During the 1960's, anybody with an appreciation for music beyond the ordinary adored this recording. Like Mickey Hart, my father acquired a vinyl copy when it came out. He passed this first pressing onto a grateful son. While I enjoy Olatunji's landmark debut, I also have a balanced appreciation. While historically important, "Drums of Passion" is now very dated. While the integrity is timeless, the 1959 production is not. Nowadays, this recording sounds like a cross between an old field recording and the soundtrack to a black and white era film. Compared to the selections with vocals, the instrumental passages have best stood the test of time. The rhythmic arrangements, phrasing and improvisation will always shine. That aside, "Drums of Passion" just isn't as listenable as Olatunji's later material. I hypothesize that for some unknown reason, most who appreciate this debut never delve further into Olatunji's discography. While Babatunde Olatunji may have influenced Mickey Hart to become a rhythmic visionary, Hart completed the circle by producing Olatunji's best recordings: "The Invocation" and "The Beat." "Drums of Passion" is an essential but dated album and to award it five stars suggests that it is Olatunji's paragon recording. That's ashame since far from being the alpha and omega, "Drums of Passion" is the beginning.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exotica masterpiece, June 13, 2008
This review is from: Drums of Passion (Audio CD)
This is one of the most entertaining recordings ever made. Now, in a historical sense, it probably is an important document for the dissemination of knowledge of world music. And it is also true that Babatunde Olatunji went on to have a quite distinguished and prolific career after making this recording, and that his later recordings may be more authentic in an academic sense.

There is another way of approaching this record, though. Though "world music" the way *we* understand it was somewhat hard to find in the USA in 1959, "exotica" was not. Exotica was a sort of lounge pop jazz that mixed Afro-Cuban rhythms with "Polynesian" style melodies to create tropical atmosphere and mood music for the tiki-bar era. It's a genre associated with Esquivel, Yma Sumac, Arthur Lyman, Martin Denny, Les Baxter, and many more artists from the period. Some of these exotica performances are still campy and entertaining, but the string and pedal steel guitar arrangements can become cloying and embarrassing after a while.

Placed in this context, this record stands head and shoulders above its contemporaries. Afro-Cuban rhythms, of course, come from Nigeria and West Africa. Babatunde Olatunji was well prepared to meet that demand. For the contemporary listener, this recording is obviously better because Olatunji strips out all of the sappy strings and corny arrangements that make 1950s exotica so cringe-worthy.

And leaving aside issues of ever-elusive "authenticity", Babatunde Olatunji was a first class showman and entertainer, and that's the side that makes this recording one of his best known and best liked. Again, with the very basic presentation of his large drum ensemble, his virile and overstated presentation turns up the energy. This is not music to evoke images of lounging in a hammock while hula girls sway. This is for dancing around the sacrificial fire with the witch doctor from a Tarzan movie.

Yes, it sits on the point where exotica ends and world music begins. It's a fine entertainment. The epic track "Shango" is easily worth the price of admission; download it if you get nothing else. It is also one of the best car albums for city driving ever made. Break out the tiki torches and the rum punch, and have a blast.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Africa - you WILL enjoy your stay, May 6, 2007
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This review is from: Drums of Passion (Audio CD)
Both Olatunji and his drums of passion were unknown to me when I discovered this CD. African folk music as well as world music in general was (and still is) just a budding passion. I was much more familiar with its' African-American decendents: the blues, jazz, hip-hop, and of course rock-and-roll.

Drums of passion confirmed my suspision that native african music can be just as powerfull as any of the aforementioned genres. Indeed, this album awakens the idea that almost all popular music today (besides classical) is spawned from traditional african music. With just a little bit of an open mind this CD should be greatly appreacreated by fans of blues, rock, jazz, world, and electronic music.

It's also of interest to note that this CD is relatively famous, it has sold millions but receives none of the media attention given to so many other great albums. Olatunji also led me to discover the Congotronics series which I have fallen in love with.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Title, March 19, 2007
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This review is from: Drums of Passion (Audio CD)
Excellent album from Babatunde Olatunji. This is the first time I was listening to African drum beats and I guess this album motivates my self to look for more of the same and you can hear it repeatedly but still you feel it is unheard before!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hit of My Safari Party, February 25, 2008
This review is from: Drums of Passion (Audio CD)
This album was great I used it to provide theme music for my safari birthday party and it was a big hit. The people came the event perfectly set for the mood of the event
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RAW, PRIMAL AFRICAN RHYTHMS, November 30, 2007
By 
COMPUTERJAZZMAN "computerjazzman" (Cliffside Park, New Jersey United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Drums of Passion (Audio CD)
THIS ALBUM WAS RECORDED IN 1960, BEFORE THERE REALLY WAS ANY KIND OF A MARKET FOR WORLD MUSIC. IT IS A PHENOMENAL ALBUM, FULL OF COMPLEX AFRICAN RHYTHMS, BEATS, CHANTING, AND OTHER NATIVE AFRICAN PERCUSSION SOUNDS. BABATUNDE OLATUNHJI IS A MASTER OF AFRICAN DRUMS, THIS IS THE FIRST ALBUM HE RECORDED. LIKE IT SAYS ON THE COVER OF THE ALBUM, HISTORIC AND GROUNDBREAKING DEBUT! THE FOURTH SONG ON THE ALBUM WAS LATER COVERED BY SANTANA (JIN-GO-LO-BAH) ON SANTANA III.
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5.0 out of 5 stars jin golo ba. not quite the original, but ..., July 8, 2014
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This review is from: Drums of Passion (Audio CD)
jin golo ba. not quite the original, but close enough.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic, real and visceral, July 7, 2013
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This review is from: Drums of Passion (Audio CD)
You feel the spirit and power of Africa through the drums and voices. The inner visuals in your mind show you how to move African style.
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Drums of Passion
Drums of Passion by Babatunde Olatunji (Audio CD - 2002)
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