Jùjú music, so popular in the 1970s and '80s, seems to have gone into eclipse in southwestern Nigeria, the land of its birth. Even fújì, which took its place for a time, has mutated into something rather removed from its origins. In their places, in the popular music arena at least, are variations on international hip-hop, heavy on auto-tuned vocals and synth.
Styles may come and go, but King Sunny Adé, the best-known jùjú musician outside of Nigeria, still keeps up a busy worldwide touring schedule. It's hard to believe he just turned 70!
Juju-Apala Live (Fortune Records, 2000) captures the King at the top of his form in front of a live audience in Lagos. Maybe it's just me, but before his fellow Nigerians, Sunny and the African Beats seem a lot more relaxed and uninhibited than they've been in front of US audiences, at least at the concerts I've been to. I suspect this CD is a bootleg recording, as it wasn't released through KSA's usual outlets. Moreover, my copy was an unauthorized rip of the original release - a pirate of a bootleg!
What's really ear-opening in this CD is the extended workout on Track 4, "Juju-Apala," with Musiliu Haruna-Ishola, son of the legendary Haruna Ishola, who perfected modern àpàlà music in the '60s and '70s. Àpàlà, a very traditional form, is one of the foundations of jùjú, fújì and other Yoruba musical styles, and Musiliu is ably carrying on his father's work.
The past and the future meet in Juju-Apala Live!
King Sunny Adé - Talking Drum
King Sunny Adé - Oro Ope Ko Ni Kase
King Sunny Adé - O Ya, O Ya Mi Bo
King Sunny Adé - Juju-Apala
Download Juju-Apala Live as a zipped file, complete with album artwork, here.