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#1 Posted : Wednesday, June 13, 2018 3:00:42 AM(UTC)

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Ladysmith Black Mambazo, "Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Friends" (Razor Tie). Although they did not start recording until the '70s and didn't become well-known outside their native South Africa until their appearance on Paul Simon's "Graceland" in 1986, Ladysmith Black Mambazo formed 50 years ago, when Joseph Shabalala started the vocal group. They have released dozens of albums, some geared to Western audiences, Marlboro Lights 100S some more anchored in South African isicathamiya and mbube traditions, all infused with the group's deep and joyful harmonies.

This new double-disc collection is not a traditional greatest hits collection, but it plays like one: It's a compendium of collaborations, and the guests range widely, from Dolly Parton to Andreas Vollenweider to various club remixers. The "Graceland" tracks "Homeless" and "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" are here, as are wonderful a cappella tracks with Emmylou Harris, Natalie Merchant, Sarah McLachlan, and Zap Mama and Marlboro Menthol Cigarettes gospel songs with Betty Griffin and others. A few cuts suffer from dated, late-'80s production that diminishes the strength of Black Mambazo's personality, but overall, this set is a stirring and varied showcase for one of the great vocal groups of our time. Review: 3 stars (out Marlboro Red Cigarettes of 4) (Steve Klinge, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Frank Zappa the Mothers of Carton Cigarettes Invention, "Carnegie Hall" (Vaulternative). In the lifetime of a floating band constantly shifting personnel, more than a few Mothers did their inventive best for the late Frank Zappa -- master guitarist, enigmatic composer, satirical lyricist -- since that band's 1965 start. Arguably, though, this never-before-released 1971 event (two shows, one October night) at the venerated classical music hall featured Zappa's finest, if not weirdest, assemblage of adventuresome musicians and vocalists to have embraced Motherhood. A British session giant (drummer Aynsley Dunbar), an improvisational woodwind/keyboard player (Ian Underwood), the jazziest of original Mothers (keyboardist Don Preston), and two pop-singing Turtles (Flo Eddie) aided Zappa in some of his most cleverly complex compositions of the period. Although these Mothers cover Zappa's most impish psychedelic tracks ("Call Any Vegetable"), oddball doo-wop numbers ("Any Way the Wind Blows"), linear instrumental workouts ("Peaches en Regalia"), and avant-classical epics (a 30-minute take on "King Kong"), it's the childishly comic mini-opera "Billy the Mountain" and its blues-inspired brother, "The Mud Shark," that are Carnegie Hall's highlights. On these tunes, Flo Eddie show off their highest voices and silliest soliloquies. Still, as with every Zappa concert recording, it's Zappa's magnetically adroit guitar playing (truly rivaling Hendrix, Beck and Page) and dippy dramaturgy that you'll remember most. Amorosi, Philadelphia Inquirer)

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