Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe

  • Kedu America [Xenophile, 1996] A-
  • Sound Time [IndigeDisc, 2001] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Kedu America [Xenophile, 1996]
I heard this patriarch's huge 1984 "Osondi Owendi" on the Nigerian highlife compilation I found back then and never thought about him again until this delight came in the mail. Nine cuts lasting 70 minutes recorded on one day of a 1994 U.S. tour, it shambles more than Original Music's Oriental Brothers CDs; the band is so well rehearsed it makes relaxation a creative principle, interacting casually over the clattering percussion and never-ending vamps of a genre that intimates juju drums and soukous guitar within the Ghanaian dance style that defined Afropop when Osadebe was a teenager. Known for his store of traditional guitar tunes, he likes the horns to poke their noses in as well. I hope some fan constructs a compilation from his 200 albums. But though his once sonorous voice is well-weathered at 60, this one-off is an honorable testament. A-

Sound Time [IndigeDisc, 2001]
Politer musically and craftier lyrically than the rival Oriental Brothers, lacking his great hit "Osondi Owendi," shorter on charm if not tune than his live '96 one-off, and you won't care. These seven '70-'85 tracks, none under six minutes and one pushing 20, are as close as any American is liable to come to the rambling shambling genius of a bespectacled little careerist who has made Ibo highlife his fastness for 30 years. No non-Ibo will detect the worlds of homily, satire, and flattery here without consulting a scorecard. We'll just hear the palm-wine sweetness, the edge-of-the-forest chatter, the flow everlasting. A-

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