Picks and Pans Review: Techno-Bush

updated 08/06/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/06/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Hugh Masekela

When last spotted in the Top 10 in 1968, Masekela and his trumpet were introducing Americans to the pleasures of Grazing in the Grass. After a few more albums and a collaboration with Herb Alpert, Masekela returned to Africa in 1972. He visited Liberia, Zaire, Ghana and Nigeria but not his native South Africa. "Out of principle," he says, "I won't go there until it becomes a human area again." Early this year Masekela, 45, set about making this album in a mobile recording studio parked outside an inn in Gaborone, Botswana, near the South African border. It's an instantly likable record, festive, sensuous and rhythmic, with lyrics in both Zulu, a beautiful, roundly gentle language, and English. There is, for instance, a wry tale to a calypso beat (on steel drums) called Getting Fat in Africa. It's about one Matilda, who "juju Idi Amin before he could run away/She help him carry de diamonds far away from Africa." Masekela reprises Grazing in the Grass in an updated dance arrangement. The album title derives from Masekela's use of modern pop implements like the Fairlight CMI music computer, as well as African drums and instruments such as the thumb piano. A female chorus sings funky backup, and Moses Ngwenya colors and enlivens the whole enterprise with his squealing, squiggling electric organ. (Jive Afrika/Arista)

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