Read Fred Zindi’s review of Lion Songs @:
‘Danger Zone’ is the name of the new CD by guitarist and singer Thomas Mapfumo: ‘The Lion of Zimbabwe‘. Since the early 70s he writes and plays his own music together with his band The Blacks Unlimited. Music that is based on chimurenga. A rousing musical style invented by Mapfumo where he adds sounds and beats to the traditional mbira (thumb piano).
With his long dreadlocks Thomas Mapfumo is a striking personality. In the 60 he played western covers but also composed his own music. In 1978 he started the band The Blacks Unlimited and invented and developed the chimurenga. A new musical style with quick hi-hat rhythms in combination with the national instrument the mbira (thumb piano). This combination is unique and made him a national star; especially when he imitated the twinkling mbira patterns on his guitar. He got the nickname ‘The Lion of Zimbabwe’. Mapfumo is loyal to the people of Zimbabwe who had learned not to love their own culture. Thomas Mapfumo honors his culture: he sings in Shona, plays the chimurenga and uses the mbira. Moreover, he sings about (political) abuses and has become the voice of the Zimbabwean people.
Also on his new album ‘Danger Zone’ the chimurenga fully represented; but we also hear pop and reggae. Thomas Mapfumo sings in Shona and in English about love, the power of (African) music during (dance) parties, the absurdity of the (Zimbabwean) politics, the wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and he sings about alcohol abuse. His critical lyrics were not appreciated by the Zimbabwean regime and that’s why he lives in Oregon (USA) now. Exciting are the melodies, catchier than on his previous albums. His music is uplifting and always sparkling: although he sings about tough subjects. Songs like ‘Hatidi Politics’, ‘Zimbabwe’ or ‘Pasi Idandaro‘ are the heart of this album and are wonderful. Mapfumo has a sonorous and recognizable voice and even with computer enhancement he’s the figurehead of The Blacks Unlimited. ‘Danger Zone’ is wonderful record with sparkling guitars, mbira, horns and backing vocals with songs that shine far beyond the average African music. (© Mattie Poels)
More music by Thomas Mapfumo – check this wonderful compilation with historical background information told by Mapfumo – click on the cover
Thomas Mapfumo: ‘Danger Zone’ (Chimurenga Music Company / Xango)
Thomas Mapfumo: ‘Lion Songs‘ (Thomas Mapfumo / Xango)
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