In the early 80s, Nigerian guitarist King Sunny Ade was primed for international superstardom - Island Records gave him a big push, critics raved and fans (both casual and devoted varieties) of African music responded with gusto. It didn’t quite work out - hey, it was the 80s after all, where bad music, Reagan/Bush politics, shaky economics and stylized self-absorption ruled. But Ade is still kicking out the good juju - juju being the percolating, Cuban tinged, sprightly guitar-heavy Nigerian sound that gave him the sobriquet "King." And Shanachie reached into the archives to compile the music on which he made his bones, with the result being Classic Years, a cross-section of his early 70s Nigerian records. All the aforementioned elements of Ade’s sound are here, but with more edge and more vibrant - the drums and the bass have a sinuous oomph you can practically feel and the guitars have that crisp, warm, analog-equipment bite to them. I mean, there’s a solo bit on "Afai Bowon" that’s as hotly blue-sharp as Mike Bloomfiled circa Super Session or Butterfield Blues Band’s East/West. As good as King Sunny’s 80s recordings were, they were beset by a slickness that seemed to siphon-off some of the energy - on these tracks, the energy level is higher, the rough edges have not been filed down (not to be confused w/ sloppiness, to be sure), the grooves are deeper and the melodies dance from the speakers like the first fresh winds of Spring through a just-opened-in-the-AM window.