Tag Archives: Graceland

“Ja Funmi”

ksa
King Sunny Ade
Juju Music, 1982

I must confess I don’t know too much about King Sunny Ade, the jùjú genre or Nigerian culture in general. My understanding is that Juju Music, KSA’s major-label debut, made quite a splash in America when it was released in the early ‘80s, paving the way for the minor Afro-Pop wave that followed. It’s not too much of a stretch to listen to “Ja Funmi” and understand how this music, or music like it, would’ve captivated Paul Simon, David Byrne and other white artists of the time. (I’m probably getting the influences all wrong — in theory, Graceland was built more on South African sounds, and Talking Heads were Fela Kuti devotees. Still, for an uninformed WASP, the similarities are clear.) What’s fascinating about this record, and even more so follow-up Syncro System, is the way KSA successfully integrates his singular guitar sound with modern-for-the-time production: drum programming, deep bass and a pristine mix that sounds phenomenal through a good set of speakers. Since Ade’s playing is inimitable, the music has aged remarkably well and continues to be popular among “world music” fans and crate diggers alike.

[audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14312140/01%20Ja%20Funmi.m4a]

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“The Things I Did for You”

chenier
Clifton Chenier
Bayou Blues, 1955/1970

“Standing in the shadow of Clifton Chenier, dancin’ the night away…” For about two decades, this lyric from Paul Simon’s Graceland was my only exposure to Chenier, “the King of the Bayou” and one of the most prominent Zydeco musicians of all time. Shifting through a stack of used records last year, I took a chance on “Bayou Blues” and fell instantly in love. This take of “The Things I Did For You” was recorded in 1955, early in Chenier’s career, and serves as a perfect introduction to his sound. There’s the traditional blues structure; the soulful, Creole-inflected, top-of-lungs vocal; the confident ride/snare shuffle. The lyrics may be mournful, but taken on its own the music tells a different story. We should all be so lucky when we get the blues.

[audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14312140/02%20The%20Things%20I%20Did%20for%20You%20(Take%201).m4a]

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