Mike Atkinson

V/A – Golden Afrique Vol.3

Posted in album reviews, Stylus by Mike A on March 2, 2007

Following widely acclaimed historical round-ups of West African (Vol.1) and Congolese (Vol.2) musical styles, this exemplary series now turns its attentions southwards. Disc One traces the development of South African music from 1939 to 1998, covering all its best-known genres: Mbube, Kwela, Kwaito, and Mbaquanga, a.k.a. “township jive.” The emphasis is on dance grooves rather than song structures, and although over half the tracks rely on the exact same ascending three-chord sequence, the defiantly joyous spirit of the apartheid-era “shebeens” is equally all-pervading.

Disc Two, which splits equally between Zimbabwe and Zambia, is dominated by the sort of pealing, tumbling guitar lines which came to prominence in the mid ‘80s, via bands such as the Bhundu Boys. There’s less rawness and more fluidity, but the overall celebratory vibe is equally intoxicating.

(Samples from the album’s 34 tracks can be streamed here.)

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