KING OF THE ZULU TRIBE




A selection of crucial cuts from spiritual soundman Shaka's back catalogue, and 5 out of the 6 are favourites of mine from times gone by when serious music sold, solid roots music. Starting from the top, "Jah Children Cry" is a lightning and thunder anthem, deep and pounding, with a sweet vocal icing from the kind of voice that used to be found on the better lovers records. The well-rounded enunciation of plaintive Junior Brown with a vocal answer to the popular "Warrior Charge" theme, buried in a thick wall of dense drum and bass and rippling harmonica - impending brimstone and fire - is followed by Shaka's own Biblical, firing on all cylinders vocal cut to the same rhythm, now given a shot of bristling horns and some extra touches of Mittoo-like organ work. Side 2 opens with the slippery sweetness usually reserved for less serious topics, jangling and colliding with a full blown percussive mix. Vocal harmony group Still Cool's sugar coating still sounds as bright and fresh some 5 years on, and the depth of production is something you rarely hear now. Bim Sherman's classy "Happiness" is a low profile rocker, buoyant and yet oddly restrained. Gentle, treading carefully, swaying on the light breeze of Bim's breathiness and muted horn lines, opening out into a vintage rootical toasting cut from an unspecified DJ. Shaka's Twinkle-y "Lion Youth" closes the album on a note of downbeat optimism - a spirit finisher to remind us of how it was. A worthwhile album, and nary a computerised digitaliser in sight!

Simon Buckland ~ Echoes ~ 14 February 1987


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