16. Various artists – “Amandla!”(soundtrack)

OK, so we’re 16 albums in and this is the third with a South African connection. I can explain. My interest in South African music stems from several sources: (i) I was moved by several novels books about SA as a teenager (Cry, The Beloved Country was one); (ii) I studied SA history one year at high school; (iii) I saw Paul Simon on his Graceland tour; and (iv) my wife was raised there and I have visited the beautiful land.

This album is the soundtrack to an amazing documentary Amandla soundtrackabout the role of music in the South African struggle against apartheid. I can highly recommend the film, and this album. It brings together a diverse and moving set of tracks from some of the big stars of the day – Hugh Masekela, Abdullah Ibrahim, Vusi Mahlasela and Mariam Makeba, as well as some choirs, and a few one hit wonders.

Some tracks are slow, building laments. Others rock along. A little gem is Meadlowlands – a be-bop tune about the clearing of a township. It reminds us that protest music doesn’t have to be aggressive, but can be subtle and a lot of fun.

This is a beautiful collection and wonderful historical document.

File under: Noble and gnarly

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