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Classic SA Albums pt.2

2008-09-23 08:45
Vusi Mahlasela – Silang Mabela (1997)
A soulful, aching lament for Africa’s children. Vusi remains the country’s most affecting vocalists, able to bring forth joyful moments as easily as the mournful ones. He’s an icon of SA music who is able to communicate so much with just a voice and a guitar. No less than Nadine Gordimer hailed the album as "the peak of Vusi Mahlasela’s achievements – a wonderful range of originality, joyous, humorous, lamenting, celebrating. Music was at the heart of the struggle for freedom. Vusi was there. Music is at the heart of reconstruction; Vusi’s music is here to stir and delight us. He’s a national treasure." [SB]

Moses Taiwa Molelekwa - Live at the Fin de Siecle Festival, Nantes
Gracefully virtuoso, passionate, lost SA jazz genius Molelekwa and his band take musical risks with unpretentious eloquence. He always lands on his feet in this incredible performance of his own compositions. [JB] - Read the review

Busi Mhlongo – Urbanzulu (2000)
Her beautiful voice is pushed beyond prettiness to express real pain, rage, and joy with rock 'n roll abandon. It's the first true female Maskandi album, it topped the international world music charts for a year, and years after its release it's still utterly bewitching. [JB]

Felix Laband - 4/4 Down the Stairs (2002)
It’s always the quiet ones, bashing out late-night mood pieces in their bedrooms and basements, and that somehow connects with a broad spectrum of the South African psyche. You might not be able to dance to it while keeping your dignity intact, but 4x4 is a marvel of house beats, glitch techno and curious creatures that reveals little clues to its secrets with repeated listens. [SB]

Zim Ngqawana: Vadzimu (2003)
A visionary saxophone fuelled song suite that marries the intellectual and spiritual jazz traditions, tracing the beat routes of the African Diaspora through music to dance to, make love to, weep over and even laugh along with. [MK]
Fokofpolisiekar – As Jy Speel Met Vuur Sal Jy Brand (2003)
A rock band should be judged on its music first, it's sex appeal second, and its ideological confusion only third. And Fokofpolisiekar's music is great, danceable, bouncy punk rock. [CR]
- Listen to clips
- Read the review

Chris Chameleon Ek Herhaal Jou (2005)
On his solo début, the former Boo! frontman takes on the poetry of iconic Afrikaans "Sestiger" Ingrid Jonker... hang on: is this one of those kitsch cabaret tributes? Fear not - freed from Boo!'s munki-punk pop straightjacket, Chameleon proves to be an accomplished interpreter, liberating the musicality of Jonker's verse in stripped-down busks, unplugged aches, and sprightly sakkie volk ditties. [MK]
Listen to MP3: Die Onverkrygbare

Lucky Dube - Respect (2006)
Albums like Prisoner might have had more fire, but the chilled bass, drums, and brass on this last will and testament provide the perfect canvas for Lucky to convey his soulful roost reggae parables that invest celebrity lifestyle critiques, and roots-rocking affirmations of peace, Jah love and understanding with an unmistakable Ubuntu spirit. [MK]

Ladysmith Black Mambazo - Long Walk To Freedom (2006)
Grammy Award-winning a cappella choir enlist a star-studded cast includign Melissa Etheridge, Taj Mahal, Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris, Lucky Dube, Hugh Masekela and more to celebrate the sounds that mapped our nation's "long walk to freedom". It's a marvellous way to refresh any "best of" blueprint, with forgotten gems like "Nomathemba" and the homegrown doo-wop heaven of "How Long" complemented by soaring spiritual hymns ("Rain Rain Beautiful Rain", "Homeless"), Graceland makoevers ("Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes"), scorched blues rock renovations ("Mbube") and more.

Chris Letcher - Frieze (2006)
Although Letcher's other projects are also essential to your CD collection - Urban Creep rocked, and Low Riding and Bignity (with Matthew Van Der Want) are tears-on-a-bar-counter classics but Frieze wins: it's a flawless, devastating and bravely produced distillation of the work of a world-class singer-songwriter. [JB] - Listen to clips
Read more: Read the review

Simphiwe Dana – One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street (2006)
This isn't just a black consciousness sales pitch trying to look for the pot of gold buried somewhere beneath the Rainbow Nation. Nor is it one of those seasonally trendy attempts to replicate the swinging sounds of Sophiatown. It's an African diva channelling her whispers, sighs, and soars beyond any 'world' music or 'jazz' stereotypes, into a timeless celebration of finding true freedom in spirituality itself. [MK]
- Listen to clips
Read more: Read the review

HHP – Acceptance Speech
Jabba raises the Mzansi hip-hop bar to the next level, stamping his vernacular raps with potent Tswana lyrics and an hypnotic Motswako flavour that's floor-fillingly funky.
- Read the review

- Contributors: Miles Keylock, Jean Barker, Niel Bekker, Chris Roper, Shaheema Barodien.
[PREVIOUS: Top 24: the 50s to the 90s] [page 2 of 2]

...but what about albums from 90s and 00s legends like the Nude Girls, Arthur, Freshlyground or Fokofpolisiekar? Has their best work stood the test of time?

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