Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited

Chimurenga Forever: The Best of Thomas Mapfumo

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AllMusic Review by Richard Foss

Any artist as important as Thomas Mapfumo certainly deserves a career retrospective or three, and the selection on Chimurenga Forever does give a good sense of the varying moods of Mapfumo's music. What this collection does not do, alas, is give any sense of the development of Mapfumo's style. The songs are not presented in the order that they were released, or any other kind of order as far as can be discerned. With Mapfumo, this can be hard to tell, as much of his music was first written and released when he was performing clandestinely, and it has been haphazardly released in various countries on small independent labels. In some cases, there was a delay of years between the time something was recorded and the time it was released, which can bewilder or mislead serious students of Mapfumo's music. The lyrics of many songs have allegorical meanings that were designed to get around censorship, but there is little information about those inner meanings here either. Instead of providing this information, much of the space on the CD sleeve is devoted to photos of Mapfumo and hype for other projects by the same label. If that space had been used to give more insightful liner notes, one would be more inclined to seek out those other albums. As it is, this CD is rated lower than it might be if the documentation was better. Chimurenga Forever is still a fine album of well-recorded music by Thomas Mapfumo, but it's not the package that it could be.

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