King Sunny Ade

Synchro Series

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Definitely (and literally) an album of two halves -- indeed, this is two albums (originally released in 1982 and 1983, respectively) on one CD. Made for Ade's home Nigerian market, they fall either side of his international debut, and the changes between the two are marked. The first three tracks, originally released as Gbe Kini Ohun De, are laid-back and meandering, typified by the 18-minute title track, which percolates along gently on a bed of percussion, the trademark pedal steel guitar adding more effect than melody. Not that it's not a delight -- it's as relaxing as a summer afternoon. But compare it to the cuts that made up the original 1983 version of Synchro Series, and it could almost be two different bands. The later work (even when it consists of earlier outtakes) has more punch and focus in the sound and playing. Obviously, the start of the international adventure had an effect on the band, and on Ade himself, whose lead guitar work is sharp and incisive. The track "Synchro System," first heard in the '70s, is back as part of the longer "Synchro Series" song, which hits a groove and keeps on going. "Ja Fun Mi Dub" is exactly that, a dub remix that might not have too much to do with the Jamaican style but is still a joy to hear. What's also apparent from both attitudes on this album is the difference in demand between the Nigerian and world markets. At home, Ade's fans wanted longer tracks that allowed for more expression; internationally that wasn't acceptable at the time. From the sound of Synchro Series, maybe the international audience should have had its ears open sooner.

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