Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Raise Your Spirit Higher [Heads Up, 2004]
If you've never heard a Ladysmith Black Mambazo album, that doesn't mean you've never heard Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The long-running Zulu chorale, introduced to America in 1986 on Paul Simon's Graceland though they had an indie label deal by then, are an exotic staple--educating Sesame Street, serenading Olympians, regaling Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee. What's more, they deserve it--their a cappella clicks and whoops and hollers and harmonies constitute some of the most skillful, witty, and beautiful pop music on the planet. Incredibly, founder-leader-inventor Joseph Shabalala's wife of 30 years was murdered while this album was being cut. More incredibly, it's one of their most spirited and accessible ever. There are more than 40, but why quibble? Start here. [Village Voice: Tribulations of St. Joseph]