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I.K. Dairo: Definitive Dairo

In the spectrum of global music appreciation, the Nigerian pulse of Ju-Ju is one of the world’s more reliable recipes for happiness. The bubbling energy force, the driving yet delicate rhythmic sense, the guitar chatter and deceptively intricate vocal parts and harmonies adds up to a thriving dance music with roots in native Yoruban traditions as well as western influences (including country-western). King Sunny Ade is the figure who made the world safe for Ju-Ju with his international splash in the ’80s, but he’s not the only Ju-Ju legend.

The recent rerelease of the late I.K. Dairo’s 1971 album Labando-with added B-side tracks, and released as Definitive Dairo (Xenophile 4045; 57:04)-provides a valuable historical insight to another important player in the evolution of Ju-Ju. Labeled the godfather of Ju-Ju, Dairo was a gentler character than James Brown, just as the music is gentler than its R&B or High Life cousins. You won’t hear the distinctive pedal steel guitar of Ade’s sound, but Dairo’s band did include the unique timbre of the 10-button accordion amidst the nimble guitar-and-drum rhythmic patter. It’s timeless life-affirming music, pure and simple.

Originally Published