Johnny Clegg

A Johnny Clegg and Juluka Collection

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How wonderful to finally be able to refer to apartheid, South Africa's former policy of brutally enforced racial exclusion and oppression, in the past tense! However, it is important to never forget how it was back then, and this album provides a virtual time capsule of an audacious period during the long, bitter battle for equality. In the '70s, a white, English-born, South Africa-based singer named Johnny Clegg spent several months living among the Zulus, learning their music and dances. When he returned to urban pursuits, he and Sipho Mchuno, a local black musician, had the guts, or inspired insanity, to start an interracial band. They called themselves Juluka (Zulu for "sweat"), and eventually achieved widespread popularity among South African blacks and whites alike. But, even so, their existence was a threat to the status quo and they lived in constant danger of arrest or worse. As their fame grew, they reached audiences throughout the world with their incongruously joyous blend of conscious lyrics, mbaqanga (township jive), traditional Zulu folklore, and hook-laden Western pop. The present compilation of ten infectious tunes gathered from six albums makes it very obvious how this gentle insurrection gained so many adherents. Mchuno eventually left in search of a more traditional sound while Clegg went on to found a later group called Savuka, but together they had fired a well-aimed shot straight into the evil heart of apartheid when it was very dangerous to do so, and lived to tell the tale.

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