ALONG WITH Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey, Nigeria's Admiral Dele Abiodun is one of the most popular exponents of juju music, but it's juju music with a twist. Abiodun calls it adawa -- a mixture of juju and the kind of funk-powered high-life music that fascinated him when he first started playing bass and guitar in Ghana.
No surprise, then, that rich, densely layered rhythms give Abiodun's latest album "Ring My Bell/Temi Laago" its enormous dance thrust and appeal. While Abiodun restricts his role as performer to singing lead vocals, his arrangements consistently augment juju's effervescent nature with emphatic bass lines, guitar chords and unusually aggressive percussion. The Yoruban chants have a nearly hypnotic pull, thanks in part to Abiodun's sexy baritone and the ensemble's overlapping harmonies, but in the end it's the relentlessly rising and falling rhythms that prove most potent.
Even so, juju fans may cherish this album for the talking drums and Hawaiian and blues-based guitar fills alone, not to mention the band's remarkably fluid improvisations and exchanges. All that's missing is the kind of showmanship Abiodun and his Top Hitters International band are apt to display on stage.