Miriam Makeba

Keep Me in Mind

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Although a respectable effort, Keep Me in Mind is a bit of an oddity in the context of Miriam Makeba's career. While she's justifiably most known for the records she did with a strong connection to South African music, much of the arrangements, and certainly some of the material, of this 1970 LP indicated that there were hopes of getting her to cross over to the soul and pop audience. The production often had a solid soul feel, and certainly the covers of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth," Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Down on the Corner," and the Beatles' "In My Life" were -- though classic songs all -- not exactly in sync with the kind of repertoire she'd featured throughout most of her discography to that point. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, they're among the weakest selections here, though "In My Life" isn't bad, somewhat recalling Nina Simone's frequent forays into rock/pop/soul hits during the same era. Better by some measure are her outings into fairly gutsy pop-soul on "Brand New Day," the dramatic "Measure the Valleys," and her own composition "Lumumba," though these do sound like tracks that could have been the work of most any above-average Aretha Franklin-influenced soul singer, rather than efforts bearing Makeba's distinctive imprint. Far more of her South African roots come through on her non-English-language originals "Kulala," "Ibande," and "Tululu," and while these aren't devoid of contemporary soul influences, they're the most interesting tracks on the LP. It adds up to a record that has its merits and puts Makeba into a more Americanized pop-soul setting than much of her work, but isn't one to turn to as an example of her achievements as an African music innovator.

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