Album Review : Mango Groove – Faces to the Sun

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Mango Groove, the iconic South African band, have released a new album called “Faces to the Sun”. It comprises of 2 parts: “Memories and Moments” and “Here, Now and Forever”.

Memories and Moments

This part of the album is a collection of 15 iconic South African songs, giving them a makeover. And it is these makeovers that makes this part of the album fascinating. The song choice is superb, from their very own ‘Another Country’ (done better than the original in collaboration with Zolani Mahola from FreshlyGround), to ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ and the iconic ‘Great Heart’ from Johnny Clegg. The 70’s Gospel version of Meadowlands and Big band feel to Vulindlela is different, but in the best possible way.

I told you they chose some iconic songs.

But the real pearl in this part of the album is the way that they manage to capture the mood of South Africa at present, using great collaborations (Juanita du Plessis features on ‘Kinders van die Wind’), songs that identified with the struggle against apartheid (‘Under African Skies’ off the fabulous ‘Graceland’ by Paul Simon, featuring Kurt Darren), and time-tested anthems (‘Malaika’ featuring the masterful Vusi Mahlasela and Mafikizolo’s ‘Emlanjeni’ featuring NJ Kunene). ‘Memories and Moments’ takes us to the heaviness that our country is currently going through, and the struggle to come. And if you listen closely, Mango Groove captures this mood as only they can.

Perhaps the standout track is Weeping, the archetypal struggle song. Be warned, it’s a tearjerker. Their rendition has an eerie identification with our current leadership. Let’s hope we win this struggle too.

Here, Now and Forever

Flip to the second part of the album, and you have that characteristic lightness that is so welcome. Straight ‘From the Get Go’ to the strong message that comes with ‘Kind’, the reggae beat on ‘In Our Own Paradise’ and the catchy ‘Sweet Surprise’, this part makes you clap your hands and stomp your feet as if you’re at their concert.

The title track lives up to the promise of being the most identifiable song, and it brings the same happiness that ‘Special Star’ brought to us all those years ago.

The Press Release and Sleeve Notes for the album can viewed here

The way that Mango Groove captures contrasting moods in 2 parts is masterful. This is what makes them a national musical treasure. This album doesn’t disappoint and is definitely one for your collection.

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