Issued in 2007, Shanachie's GEMS FROM THE CLASSIC YEARS serves as an excellent companion piece to the label's similarly titled THE BEST OF THE CLASSIC YEARS, offering up another fine collection of vintage King Sunny Ade tunes. Like its predecessor, GEMS draws from the era before the Nigerian juju master (born Sunday Adeniyi) became an international star, presenting a sterling set of recordings from the 1960s and '70s, when Ade perfected his celebratory, guitar-driven style. While it presents a pair of shorter songs ("Dele Davis" and "John Ali"), the compilation primarily focuses on Ade's mesmerizing extended medleys, as exemplified by the vibrant, breezy "Ori Mi Maje N'Te." Given the limited availability of Ade's pre-'80s material, GEMS is a welcome gift for the performer's adoring fans.
Rolling Stone (3/20/03, p.68) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...The loping, dublike style he pioneered on 'Synchro System' never sounded fresher or more prophetic..."
Spin (4/03, p.105) - "...Ideal for rare-groove DJs short on grooves..."
Entertainment Weekly (3/21/03, p.113) - "...Fuses traditional African music and Western pop without stifling the former's expansive flow..." - Rating: A-
The Wire (6/03, p.78) - "...No one attending the African Beats show of the period had any difficulty accepting the notion that this music could support an all night party. It retains that potency in the present day..."
Mojo (Publisher) (4/03, p.124) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...Choice selection of cuts from the ju ju pioneer..."