Soul Taker

Lucky Dube

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Soul Taker Review

by Rick Anderson

To say that South African reggae superstar Lucky Dube has a distinctive sound is to put it rather kindly. To put it less kindly, he has one melody -- a big, unabashedly cathartic one -- and he's been singing it for over 15 years. Luckily, it's a very good melody, and he makes it work again and again on his tenth album, in particular on heart-tugging anthems like "Romeo," "Money Money Money," and "Good Girl." He mixes things up stylistically a bit more at the opening and close of the album, with the aggressive rock-flavored "Put a Little Love" and "Sins of the Flesh," which uses mbaqanga-derived harmonies and a funk groove to create a sound that has little, if anything, to do with reggae, but everything to do with Dube's homeland. In between are those big, cathartic pop-reggae gems and a few other noteworthy tracks, including the bluesy two-chord vamp of "Sleeping Dogs" and a snarling political putdown titled "Teach the World," whose message may be aimed at the U.S. or South Africa or maybe Colombia -- it's not really clear which. Fans know what to expect; as for those looking for an introduction to Dube's distinctive brand of Afro-reggae, this is as good a place to start as any.

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