...Love and respect go hand in hand in his eyes. A naïve sentiment? Not if Lucky’s...
Amar Patel 2007-04-26
Lucky Dube, elder statesman of mbaqanga (traditional Zulu) music and ambassador of South African roots reggae music, returns with his thirteenth studio album and it’s as joyful an experience as he’s ever conjured.
Lucky says that he called the album Respect because that is what the world needs most right now. He says you can live with people even if you don’t believe in their beliefs, or even if you don’t like what they like; as long as you have respect for them. ('‘Shut Up’' is Lucky’s message to those who can’t say anything nice about others.) So love and respect go hand in hand in his eyes. A naïve sentiment? Not if Lucky’s vibe percolates into communities worldwide.
That pop warmth, radiating from low to upper register with echoes of Pete Tosh and Jimmy Cliff respectively, is still there. The arrangements are built around righteous verses from the non-smoking non-drinking Rastafarian, supported by a cast of talented local musicians: rootical high-amp rhythm section ('‘Shembe Is The Way'’), fanfares of iridecsent brass and multi-tracked female voices on the chorus (the title song is a great example of how traditional African sounds can evolve the reggae form). The guitar work adds just the right amount of zest (check the government-chastising ‘'Political Games'’) as does the secular favourite, the organ (‘Never Leave You’).
Whether reminding us to celebrate of life or warning us of evil along the way, there are few more galvanising and pleasurable listens than Lucky Dube and Respect, his biggest production yet, is testament to a fine voice and enduring power.