King Sunny Ade has been a major force in World Beat since his American debut in the early 1970s. The re-issue of SEVEN DEGREES NORTH is out in time for all the summer festivals. It taps into the expanding popularity of the genre and answers the demand for the highest level of world beat music to be present and sustained in the marketplace. Sunnys exhilarating approach to juju music appeals to both the Afro-Beat and World Music audiences. The Nigerian Kings signature poly-rhythms, crisp guitars and life-affirming vocals are highlighted on this set of 10 outstanding compositions that are guaranteed to get you on your feet and dancing.
From the very first notes, the juju music of King Sunny Ade is instantly identifiable. The musicians lock into a groove and don't let it go until the song ends--and given that the tracks on this album give all musicians a chance to stretch out (unlike, say, 1995's E Dide), that can be a while. But it's a pliable, irresistible groove, powered by the percussion and talking drums, which also pop up to punctuate and accent the music, while the Hammond organ and pedal steel guitar take most of the solos with King Sunny himself at the center of things, singing and directing his large band. It's a joyful noise they make, often quite literally, as a number of these pieces are "praise songs," part of the juju tradition ("Congratulations (Happy Birthday)" offers an idea of the praise song in English.) This is his most enjoyable record in a long time, better than the excellent Odu, and if you can resist the urge to dance, check your pulse--you might be dead. --Chris Nickson
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