Hallelujah Chicken Run Band

Take One

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The founding fathers of Zimpop are presented here in all of their original glory, with the added bonus of some much-needed remastering. While most of Zimbabwe was still singing Western pop covers with a bit of rhumba mixed in, the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band were changing the sound of the country. Under the guidance of guitarist Joshua Hlomayi Dube and singer Thomas Mapfumo (in his earliest years), the band was replacing pop songs with traditional ideas -- the guitar being given a staccato sound to mimic aspects of the mbira, and Mapfumo's vocals mimicking its sounds as well. At the same time, lyrics were at least occasionally made political and rebellious, and sung in Shona, a major issue given the political climate of Rhodesia at the time. Here, some of the best recordings from the band's run are presented, including a handful from a very early session with Teal Records that launched the band nationally. The work is always excellent, and the band has far more coherence and ability than one might expect from a ragtag group of performers, barkeeps, part-time farmers, and the like. This album is an excellent piece both for those interested in the development of Zimbabwe's sound and those who are simply fans of Mapfumo. Additionally, it's just a mighty good listen.

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