Black Umfolosi - Unity

Tuesday 1st October 1991
Black Umfolosi - Unity
Black Umfolosi - Unity

STYLE: World
RATING 6 6 6 6 6 6
LABEL: World Circuit 20
FORMAT: 12 inch vinyl Album

Reviewed by Mike Fearon

Let me own up: I'm a sucker for vocal harmonies. Give me the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkle, CSN or the Eagles, and even their tritest songs are lifted for me by those soaring golden-throated voices. It's as well, because Black Umfolosi do nothing else but sing in wonderful black harmonies. If that's your scene, you'll love this album. About half the songs are in English, sometimes with corny lyrics, but those voices always win through. The African songs, which predominate on the early part of the album, are atmospheric evocations of life in an African township. Sleeve notes help the listener through the language barrier; "Umangivuka", for example, is described as 'an outcry against the horrors of peoples' inhumanity', while "Hlalanathi" is 'a plea to God to stay with us always'. This is authentic, ethnic world music at its best. Next time though, it would be good to hear the band recorded with a larger budget. Perhaps they could also take the opportunity - missed here - to fuse their music with that of other traditions to recreate something totally new. It would help them to cross over into other markets, and provide them with a fresh artistic challenge.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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