Respect - Robert "Doc" Mthalane - Respect - Robert "Doc" Mthalane

2006-03-29 19:35

This album is part tribute to "Doc", part swan song by the SA african jazz/folk music legend himself.

It opens with the rather at first sparse "Eva", which gradually builds into beautiful chorus. In typical style, intros for the first few songs tend to be longer than pop listeners will be used to, atmospheric rather than melodic, made of rhythmic builds and layered voices calling.

This is fairly traditional SA folk songwriting, with a touch of the African Jazz brush, calmingly moving, leisurely in getting to the point, acoustic yet smooth, featuring top artists like Madala Kunene (he was working with Kunene when his record company first found him) and Brice Wassy. The spine-tingling childlike vocals of Lungiswa Plaaitjies and others from Amampondo add an unusual reedy texture to the sound.

"Song for Doc" by Busi Mhlongo, with it's fluidly quavering verses and yo yo yo yo yo chorus may just remind you how beautiful simplicity can be. This final song is the only track on which Mthalane doesn't appear.

That "Song for Doc" one of the best on the album is tender proof of the huge impact Mthalane had the life and music of Busi Mhlongo, and the other stars who remember him in their music.

- Jean Barker


"...simply a beautiful epitaph to the great man, full of the subtlest rhythms and melodies crafted with considerable knowledge and skill."
- Phil Meadley for Wax magazine

" last exquisite album of uplifting and heart-rending beauty. From the languid opening chords of Eva, the slowly surging crescendos of Masihlanganemi to the rousing rhythmic call to action of Mamambo, this is one of those rare albums that can enrich your life and soothe your soul..."
- Dave Stelfox for Seven

Robert "Doc" Mthalane died of TB aged only 45, having befriended and inspired top SA musicians like Busi Mhlongo, for whom he wrote many songs in her days with the band Twasa. He was also a respected guitarist with a distinctive, husky but rich singing voice.

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