King Sunny Adé and His African Beats – Juju Music (1982)
I’m not quite sure what to say about this album. If you know about King Sunny Adé, you’re probably aware that this is a worldwide classic, acknowledged as arguably the most influential recording ever to come out of West Africa; if you don’t know about Adé, or about juju, I’m certainly not qualified to bring you up to speed.
I mean, yeah, I love this album, and I could go on at length about talking drums and polyrhythmic beats, or the brilliant way Adé and producer Martin Meissonnier combined traditional Yoruban elements with modern reggae-dub flourishes. I could freak out about this pedal steel solo or that Hawaiian slide riff. I could even holler about how this album is irrefutable proof that a 20-piece band can sound seamlessly tight (take that, stupid Polyphonic Spree). But you know what? Stuff like that is for Robert fucking Christgau.
What I will tell you is that I don’t understand 95% of what’s being said on this album, and it doesn’t matter one bit. It’s beautiful, and it has replaced “Rhapsody in Blue” as my favorite music with which to start the day. Get a free taste — here’s “Ja Funmi” (download) and “365 is My Number/The Message” (download) — and then go get yourself some juju.