Globally, Clegg is probably best recalled for "Scatterlings of Africa," understandably the leadoff track here. If not his manifesto (which was established long before his international fame), it makes his point, the mixing of rock and Zulu music, quite succinctly and wonderfully – and he was doing it long before it became fashionable (indeed, while it was illegal under South Africa's apartheid laws). (…) Johnny Clegg & Savuka were always about more than the music, however; they put it together politically, too, a huge act of defiance that was reflected in the lyrics and sound. As the man said, think and dance.
A nice album of pieces, with almost lilting vocals coming from lead singer Johnny Clegg, from time to time almost reminiscent of some mixture of Dylan and Springsteen. The guitar work seems slightly influenced by reggae, which wouldn't be too surprising given the half-South African membership of the group. Overall rather pop-like, but a decently higher quality of pop than the majority that's generally pushed on the American market. For those curious as to what's happening in cross-cultural pop music, it would be a great addition. For those who are looking for strictly South African music, Ladysmith Black Mambazo or the Mahotella Queens might be a better choice.
Cruel, Crazy Beautiful World is a studio album from South African artist Johnny Clegg and his band Savuka. Released in 1989 and produced by Hilton Rosenthal and Bobby Summerfield, it is today recognized as probably the band's greatest album, containing hits such "Dela" and "Cruel, Crazy Beautiful World". The title track is addressed and dedicated to Clegg's son Jesse, born in 1988, who is depicted on Clegg's shoulders on the album cover.
"Asimbonanga (Mandela)" is an anthem already adopted by Joan Baez and others, while the title tune devastatingly discusses what it's like to be asked to "walk in the dreams of the foreigner."
John Coltrane's matchup with singer Johnny Hartman, although quite unexpected, works extremely well. Hartman was in prime form on the six ballads, and his versions of "Lush Life" and "My One and Only Love" have never been topped…
While Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, the 1968 album that made Cash a household word, spent only two weeks at No. 1, this 1969 follow-up topped the charts for 20 weeks. As with Folsom, the San Quentin LP had to be edited due to space limitations. Now, 31 years after the fact, the show can at last be heard in true perspective. All the original performances hold up, including the album's hit single: Shel Silverstein's "A Boy Named Sue," presented unbleeped for the first time. Equally impressive are the eight restored tracks and unexpurgated between-song patter. Cash's opening renditions of "Big River" and "I Still Miss Someone" are bracing. So are four closing songs teaming Cash with his complete performing troupe (the Carter Family, Carl Perkins, and the Statler Brothers). Their gospel performances ("He Turned the Water into Wine," "The Old Account," and an early version of "Daddy Sang Bass") are electrifying, as is a concluding medley featuring everyone. Cash is presented here at his roaring, primal best.