Archive for February 20, 2015


After over 30 years this album hasn´t lost any of its appeal. It features some of the best Zimbabwean pop stars. Jit or Jiti music is represented by the fast mbira-like guitar sounds of The Four Brothers who became international world music stars. Thomas Mapfumo, the Lion of Zimbabwe, appears with an early 80s political anthem in the style that came to be known as Chimurenga. Sungura guitar melodies are featured with James Chimombe, the “King of Sungura.” Bands on the album such as Nyami Nyami Sounds and Super Sounds have members who went on to some of the most popular Zimbabwean bands such as Chazezesa Challengers. One thing I’ve found is that you simply can’t get through this record without getting on your feet and dancing around!

Robert Christgau wrote about this album: “For all the liner talk about electric dance music, what sets this apart is its roots in thumb piano. With that painfully mastered village instrument the melodic source, the guitar figures are the quickest in Africa–contrapuntal at their best, and always hooky. Vocals are likewise unassuming if not delicate, rhythms distinctly light. Takes a while to hear, will never hit you over the head, and you can dance to it. Call it folk-disco. A- “

Tracklist

A1 Devera Ngwena Jazz Band Solo Na Mutsai
A2 Four Brothers, The Makorokoto
A3 Thomas Mapfumo and Blacks Unlimited* Ndamutswa Nengoma
A4 New Black Montana Magumede
A5 Super Sounds Isalwa Kuchelwa
A6 Monica Nyami Nyami Sound Shirley
B1 Patrick Mukwamba and The Four Brothers Zvinonaka Zvinodhura
B2 Devera Ngwena Jazz Band Zvoku Mayadhi
B3 Super Sounds Monica
B4 James Chimombe and OK Success Zvingashure
B5 Patrick Mukwamba and The Four Brothers Dai Ndiri Shiri
B6 Elijah Madzikatire and The Brave Sun Vana Tinogumbura

VA – Viva! Zimbabwe – Dance Music From Zimbabwe (1983)
(320 kbps, cover art included)

Dub poetry, a unique reggae subgenre characterized by political poetry delivered over an instrumental backdrop, has never really gained full acceptance in the reggae community. Although its urgent political messages and straightforward roots rhythms make it seem like a natural fit for fans of conscious reggae, dub poetry has too often come across as a dysfunctional marriage of convenience between words and music.

This CD brings together two LPs previously released in the early ’80s: “Word Sound ‘Ave Power” was an anthology of singles by such notable dub poets as Mutabaruka and Breeze (aka Sister Breeze), as well as more obscure artists like Glenville Bryan and Navvie Nabbie, while “Dub Poets Dub” was a companion dub version of that album.

The combined collection could be used as an argument for either side of the dub poetry debate. On the one hand, you have incisive commentary from Breeze, whose views on foreign aid can be summed up in one couplet: “They come, they work, they smile so pleased/ They leave and you discover a new disease.” And Mutabaruka is his usual sharp-eyed self on “Set de Prisoners Free” and “Out of Many One.” But then you have lines like “I’m a victim, a victim/ A victim of de stinkin’ system” from Malachi Smith, and the painfully pedestrian anti-drug pronouncements of Tomlin Ellis. These are not “poems” that deserve to be recited. They could possibly be redeemed by strong melodies, but without such support they sound like eighth-grade social studies essays. The dub versions all vary from good to excellent. This one is recommended, but so is the judicious use of the skip button.   

VA – Word Sound ‘ave Power – Dub Poets and Dub   
(192 kbps, cover art included)