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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 'Lion of Zimbabwe' Roars for All of Us, October 4, 2008
By 
Giordano Bruno (Here, There, and Everywhere) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rise Up (Audio CD)
Thomas Mapfumo has been the musical voice of protest in Zimbabwe and all of southern Africa for three decades. Easily the most famous singer in his native country, Mapfumo lives in exile from the regime of robert Mugabe, and his music is banned at home. But Mapfumo doesn't sing his protest only against one corrupt dictator. Here are some lines from his earlier 'chimarenga' (struggle) songs:

"Corruption is like a disease that plagues the whole world. There are many leaders and others with power who are misleading the people.The songs remind everyone that corruption is everywhere and that no one can run away from justice."

"This song is about the exploitation of the poor by the rich. There comes a time of confrontation when the poor say enough, we will not be controlled by those who do not practice what they preach."

"This song is about family men who spend all their time and lose all their money in pubs and 'shabeens' with 'girls of sport'."

Mapfumo's gruff baritone voice is an instrument as lyrical or as fierce as he wants it to be. It's a voice that can't be doubted. His singing/chanting cries of protest are backed up by music that can only be heard as richly joyful. If these songs are to be sung in the streets of protest, then the singers will be dancing. The source of Mapfumo's music is tribal Africa, as any amount of listening to ethnographic field recordings would show. The complex layers of duple and triple rhythm, expressed in melodic patterns based on the sound of the mbira (thumb piano), are ancestral, as is Mapfumo's cascade-of-words delivery. Recent CDs show a steadily growing international influence on Mapfumo, especially the influence of reggae, and more readiness to incorporate the "high life" jazz sounds of African pop music. There is a kind of 'disconnect' between the anguish often expressed in Mapfumo's words and the exuberance of his music, but that disconnect is ours, not his. Mapfumo is a man of joy in a world of sorrow.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, atmospheric music meshed with politics, August 2, 2006
By 
This review is from: Rise Up (Audio CD)
I first heard some of the songs from this album on the NPR program Afropop

Worldwide in the spring of 2005. 'Rise Up' has been available as a download from

the Calabash Music website since April 2005 (when I purchased it), but was only

released in CD form in July 2006.

It's a shame that it has taken so long for the rest of the world to learn about this

album, because for me this album is the fulfillment of a sound I had been seeking

for much of my life. I had long enjoyed the sinuous guitar lines that graced songs

like Paul Simon's 'Crazy Love, Vol. II' (Graceland) and '(Nothing But) Flowers' by the

Talking Heads (Naked), and wanted to find African music of the sort that had

inspired those melodies.

'Rise Up' , though released two decades after those songs, is everything I had

been looking for: rich guitar melodies, organ loops reminiscent of Marleyesque

Reggae, sweet vocal accompaniment by the backup singers, and Mapfumo's own

gruff, world-weary voice as it expresses dissatisfaction with what has happened to

his Zimbabwean homeland under the regime of Robert Mugabe (Mapfumo is living

in exile in the United States).

The guitar melodies, which first drew my attention, mimic those of the traditional

mbira thumb pianos of Mapfumo's Shona people. It's funny that music with such an

acerbic political message (just look at the song titles!) can simultaneously convey

images of lush tropical rain forests, cool waterfalls, and colorful tropical birds...

OK, maybe that's just my interpretation--buy this album and listen for yourself, for

it will take you to amazing places too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Chimurenga brilliance, September 22, 2013
By 
islander (Tasmania, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rise Up (Audio CD)
Zimbabwean singer Thomas Mapfumo has been making chimurenga music for decades. "Rise Up", released in 2006, may be his best work.
Central to his music is the mbira, a thumb piano. The mbiras are a constant, but along with guitars, organ, horns, and backing singers. The result is beautiful, melodic music. Some tracks are livelier than others, but overall there is perhaps a more laid back feel to "Rise Up" than some of his earlier albums.
The album is sung in Shona, but the liner notes give an explanation of each song in English. These are instructive, because politics, disease and moral issues feature prominently. Yet for non Shona speakers, listening to the music without reading these explanations, you would never guess at the depth and sometimes anger of the lyrical content.
The album comprises eleven long songs, 70 minutes in total. There isn't a weak song on the album. This would certainly appeal to anyone familiar with his earlier work, but the album serves as a great introduction to Mapfumo. I highly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really Really Great!, June 21, 2010
This review is from: Rise Up (MP3 Music)
This is an excellent album. Mapfumo, "The Lion of Zimbabwe", is one of my favorite African artists. The sound quality here is great (as opposed to great deal of Mapfumo's other stuff), and the songs are especially beautiful. In my opinion, the best three tracks are: Marudzi Nemarudzi; Zvirwere ; and Kuvarira Mukati. Enjoy!!!
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the lion is power, September 1, 2006
This review is from: Rise Up (Audio CD)
WOW! THOMAS MAPFUMO POWER LIFE LOVE PEACE come share in the soulful african bliss.
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Rise Up
Rise Up by Thomas Mapfumo (Audio CD - 2006)
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