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  Listen Up! 10/13/03 Listen Up!

Monday, Oct. 13

King Sunny Ade, “The Best of the Classic Years,” Shanachie Records. King Sunny Ade was supposed to be Island’s next Bob Marley, but it turned out Americans weren’t looking to embrace an African musician with far less obvious pop chops in the way they had the Jamaican genius. So, three albums came and went, and Ade’s later works popped up now and again on independent labels. This album collects some of the amazing work Ade did several years before signing to Island, and as such it’s more purely Nigerian pop; there are no Stevie Wonder guest appearances or other effects chasing the American market. This music simmers nicely, with long, long grooves. Guitars and talking drums weave all around each other, with vocal call and response dropping in now and again. I think this is gorgeous, a welcome addition to my knowledge of a guy who I’ve always liked.

Verbena, “La Musica Negra,” Capitol Records. Commercial rock band with no distinguishing characteristics. They can certainly play their instruments, they have a powerhouse drummer, yet they offer virtually no personality. You’ve heard dozens of bands that sound like this, and maybe you even liked a few of them back in the day – I hear a lot of Replacements in the general shape of these songs. This one, however, is only likely to impress someone who’s just beginning to discover the power of rock’n’roll.

--Steve Pick

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