Various Artists

Zimbabwe Frontline Volume Three: Roots Rock Guitar Party

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For those days when you emerge from the bottom of the scrum of life pulling sod from your chin, this CD serves as an instant restorative. A quick blast of exuberance from Roots Rock Guitar Party and you feel no pain, extraneous stroppy moods vanishing in an explosion of joyously jangly guitars and revved-up vocalists. There isn't a more buoyant music on the planet than that made in Zimbabwe, and this compilation ratchets that up a notch or two with its focus on the cream of the country's peppy guitar sound. The rhythm guitar is the key to Zimbabwean pop, and some of the country's top bands-John Chibadura & Tembo Brothers, Max Mapfumo & Dopiro Band and the Four Brothers-show why on this gregarious set, from cascades of staccato plucking in the style of the native mbira, or thumb piano, to the hyper strumming of Chibadura's Nhamo. Bright and twangy, the musical vibe is mirrored by the lyrical one; most of the songs, sung in Shona, are inspirational, urging us to ignore gossips, see through pretenders and not give up the fight. Call it the power of positive guitar. Call me a believer.

FromEscape(December, 1999.) Subscriptions: $18/yr. (4 issues) from Box 462255, Escondido, CA 92046.

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