Saturday, May 27, 2006

26. Miriam Makeba - Miriam Makeba (1960)

Track Listing

1. The Retreat Song (Jikele Maweni)
2. Suliram
3. The Click Song
4. Umhome
5. Olilili
6. Lakutshn, Ilanga
7. Mbube
8. The Naughty Little Flea
9. Where Does It Lead?
10. Nomeva
11. House Of The Rising Sun
12. Saduva
13. One More Dance - Charles Coleman


Ok, this album is truly, really amazing. Unfortunately I will not be able to give it 10/10 for the reasons I'll explain below. Miriam Makeba has however one of the most amazing voices I've ever heard, not only that, the arrangements in this albums are also amazing. As you might imagine I am not an expert on native South African singing, I have no idea what most lyrics in this album say or even care. This album is amazing for the simple universal power of music (How cliché was that?)

Makeba unfortunately made this album thinking of it as a crossover album, this is its downfall. There are tracks here like Naughty Little Flea or One More Dance which although amusing just bring the whole album down with them. Frankly after a while you are better off skipping those songs. And that is the only reason why I can't give it 10/10, I can't do that to an album with skippable tracks. And those are track 8, 9 and 13.

Without those songs, it is definitely one of the best albums I've ever heard, with one of the most pleseant and emotive voices I've had a pleasure to listen too. And this is probably why the album is ruined by all the songs which are in English (with the possible exception of House of the Rising Sun, which is expendable nonetheless). Even South African songs that have been played to death like The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which is here called Mbube benefit from the fact that they are sung in the original language (Swahili? Anyone know?), with very original arrangements, so you recognise that it is The Lion Sleeps Tonight, but a very different one.

So, actually I would advise that instead of getting this album you can get another compilation by Makeba, entitled Africa which contains all the African songs from this album plus others, cutting out all the crossovery shit. You can't stream it from Napster, although you can get some of her later stuff, which frankly are much farther from the "roots" music in most of this album, and are actually a bit crap, like collaborations with Harry Belafonte etc.. You can buy Africa from Napster but not this album, so maybe you are better off that way. You can however buy this album from Amazon, in the UK or the US.

Track Highlights

1. Suliram
2. Olilili
3. The Click Song
4. Mbube

Final Grade



I make 4% of buys on Amazon if you get there through my links!

Miriam Makeba and South African music is teh Shit!

1 comment:

Brendan F said...

I only just found this blog and really enjoying it - hope you somehow get to read this 10 years after the post and I believe in answer to your qestion about the language that it is Xhosa