This is Johnny Clegg's first U.S. release in 17 years, and even back then he wasn't nearly a household name; however he was one of the few who were pre Paul Simon's Graceland, to introduce South Africa's lilting rhythms to these American shores with his band Juluka (Sweat in Zulu). This band was the first racially mixed South African band he formed with a gardener and Zulu musician Sipho Mchunu. At that time racially mixed bands were illegal in South Africa. The band had good success in Europe and scored a few gold records and a couple of platinum records. When Juluka disbanded he formed a band he named Savuka (We have awakened), which incorporated the South African rhythms with the European and Celtic influences he had discovered while exploring his father's English heritage while touring Europe. His music at this time was quite political and he received virtually no airplay in South Africa, though he was well received in Europe and America. He just never had a hit over in the states.
On this new disc, Human, his themes are at times political, and at time more about love and its effect upon us, and at other times he mixes the politics and love together, Love In The Time of Gaza. I think you can make a pretty accurate guess what that is about. Clegg is still singing his songs in both English and Zulu at times sticking to one language and at other time using both languages in the same song. This disc seems to be leaning more to the Western fusion side rather than the African side of his heritage; however he still infuses his songs with the African rhythm that makes them so compelling. He is someone that is not well known, here but deserves a much broader audience. He is a compelling singer and he has a strong rock pop feel to his songs that have never distanced themselves from the Zulu music he grew up with.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles