Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Freedom Fire--The Indestructible Beat of Soweto Volume Three [Earthworks, 1990]
Producer Trevor Herman claims the lead cut, featuring Mahlathini and the gang, is "the finest track ever released on Earthworks." I say it's high-generic, and five minutes of high-generic at that, damn near swallowing the shouting spirituality of the two Amaswazi Emvelo songs right afterwards. But gradually things pick up--Zulu fear of flying, nasal Shangaan weirdness, three distinct and magnificent Mahlathini vehicles, modest accordion jive, avant Venda-Pedi instrumental, modernized marabi, hectoring Sotho shout. Out of many peoples, one compilation. A-