11 May 2013

11th May - Miriam Makeba's Miriam Makeba

Artist – Album: Miriam Makeba – Miriam Makeba
Released: 11th May 1960              
Sounds Like: The one and only Mama Africa

Miriam Makeba possessed a truly exceptional voice. In its tenderest, purest form, as on ‘Lakutshn, llanga’, it sounds as beautiful as Ella Fitzgerald’s. In ‘The Retreat Song’ and ‘The Click Song’, it soars high and emphatic. On ‘Where Does It Lead’ and ‘House of the Rising Sun’ it sounds ancient and wispy; whereas on the more exotic recordings it’s striking and mysterious, with its foreign clicks and wails.

The Naughty Little Flea’ is one of only three tracks sung in English, and is accompanied by the calypso sounds of Harry Belafonte. It sounds suspiciously close to exploitation, like the record company had paired the two black artists to form a novelty act, in the days before the civil rights movement. Still, even whilst singing about cheeky parasites Makeba retains her aura.
She really shines, though, in those songs sung in her native tongue of Xhosa, a South African language. Alongside the euphoric ‘The Click Song’, ‘The Retreat Song’, Nomeva’, ‘Iya Guduza’ and ‘Mbube’ are particular highlights, the latter being a take on the Weavers ‘Wimoweh’ (which you probably know best as the inspiration for ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’, you uncultured lot you). Under Makeba’s swooping vocals, a backing chorus chant the songs to the rafters.
If you only listen to one world music album as recommended to you by a daft music blog this week, make sure it’s this one.

Albumaday... rating: 8/10

1.       The Retreat Song – 2:34
2.       Suliram – 2:45
3.       The Click Song – 2:09
4.       Umhome - 1:16
5.       Olilili – 2:31
6.       Lakutshn, llanga – 2:07
7.       Mbube – 3:17
8.       The Naughty Little Flea – 3:45
9.       Where Does It Lead – 2:29
10.   Nomeva – 2:37
11.   House of the Rising Sun – 1:57
12.   Saduva – 2:30
13.   One More Dance – 2:40
14.   Iya Guduza – 2:05

Also released on the 11th May:
2005: Gorillaz – Demon Days

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