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Human

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Album Review

With his groups Juluka and Savuka, South Africa's Johnny Clegg created a unique fusion of Western music and the traditions of his homeland, a blend that came at things from the opposite perspective of Paul Simon's Graceland. But while he managed a fair amount of crossover success in the U.S. in the ‘80s, Clegg has not had a very high profile in North America since the ‘90s. In fact, Human is the singer/songwriter/bandleader's first official U.S. release in 17 years, even though he has maintained an active recording career all along. For his reintroduction to the American market, Clegg chose the folk-oriented label Appleseed. This might seem like an unusual move, but it begins to make more sense when you realize that many of the other artists on Appleseed's roster write politically minded material, and even after all these years, Human finds Clegg still battering away at social injustice, with his words — and music — as the weapons. Of course, that's not to say that this is an album full of dour didacticism — that was never Clegg's bag in the past, and he's not about to start down that road at this late date. As ever, Clegg's tunes are full of energy and vibrancy, often achieving a kind of celebratory, triumphal vibe that transcends the sociopolitical issues at the core of some of his songs. The album opens with "Love in the Time of Gaza" and "The World is Calling," two tracks that focus on the Western-flavored rock side of Clegg's musical personality and stylistically hark back to his ‘80s work. Over the course of Human's subsequent tracks, the South African influence becomes more and more prevalent, from the group backing vocals of "Congo" and "Asilazi" to the township jive-tinged riffs and rhythms of "All I Got Is You." Further in, pop/rock production touches crop up once more, but Human closes out on a pair of tracks — "Nyembezi" and "Magumede" — sung in the language of Clegg's homeland; these are the most overtly South African-sounding tunes on the record, and let the world know where the artist's heart lies. ~ J. Allen, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Johnny Clegg Fans Won't Be Disappointed

This is another great album from Johnny Clegg. I have been buying albums by him and his bands since I first heard Scatterlings of Africa in the mid-80s. This album follows the template of all the other albums which is fine with me. There is a good mix of musical styles and bilingual lyrics with great musicianship and singing. I hope I can find the lyrics online somewhere at some point so I can maybe learn another word or two in Zulu.

Terrific!

Johnny Clegg has made another terrific album. I look forward to each one when they come out. The first song, Love in the Time of Gaza, has his classic guitar and great backing vocals! Awaiting new tour dates in Western US for 2010-2011

Welcome Him Back with Arms Wide Open! Worth the Wait.

Johnny Clegg is one of the most gifted, inspirational, and underappreciated artists (at least in the US.) I had the privilege of seeing him several times back in the 80's - and have been keeping the memory alive thru recordings and frequent rotation in my playlist. His older Juluka/Savuka material still gets me up and moving, and this new release finds him with a richer voice and more diverse musical offering. New fans and longtime supporters alike should find this mix fresh and festive.

Biography

Born: June 7, 1953 in Rochdale, Lancashire, England

Genre: World

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Together with Sipho Mchunu, a Zulu musician who came to Johannesburg in search of work, Johnny Clegg formed South Africa's first multiracial band, Juluka. In the seven years that they were initially together, the band recorded two platinum and five gold albums and became an international success. Following the group's disbanding in 1986, Clegg continued to blend African music with European pop influences with the band Savuka. Reunited with Mchunu in the mid-'90s, Clegg re-formed Juluka and toured...
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Human, Johnny Clegg
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