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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Shaka Zulu

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

1987

Shaka Zulu
Album Summary

Shaka Zulu is a 1987 album by South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Following the collaboration on Paul Simon's 1986 album Graceland which brought the group to international prominence, Shaka Zulu (produced by Simon) marked the band's first genuine international hit, securing them an American audience which would be built upon by the successes of Journey of Dreams (1988) and Two Worlds, One Heart (1990). Shaka Zulu was a collection of newly recorded versions of older Mambazo hits, such as "Unomathemba", "Hello My Baby" and "Lomhlaba Kawunoni". Shaka Zulu won a Grammy in 1988 for Best Traditional Folk Recording. The album was also featured in Robert Dimery's 2006 musical reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.08

Votes

10772

Genres

  • World

Reviews

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Thu Feb 25 2021
5

There are only so many albums that I get three tracks into and think \"Wow, I need this album in my life.\" It's so peaceful and beautiful. The fact that I went through the whole album and never missed instruments is a tribute to the incredible brilliance of the arrangements. The whole album has the same feeling, but it never feels boring or like it's dragging. 5/5

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Tue May 25 2021
4

Beautiful. I don't understand a word of it and I don't have to. The acapella harmonies wash over you and just leave you floating in a sea of sound. It alternates between lively and hauntingly beautiful. Sure, it gets pretty repetitive, almost hypnotic at times, and I felt my attention wandering which is why it doesn't get a 5-star review. But, despite that, it's a great album and I'm glad it's on this list.

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Tue Apr 06 2021
3

Shaka Zulu was pretty good, not sure if it was because of the mood i was in or what but it was decent background stuff. tammy thought it sounded a bit like african gospel. wither way the gods must be crazy I give it three empty coke bottles

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Mon Nov 29 2021
5

What if you took the BEST part of the BEST Paul Simon album, and you made THAT into its own album?

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Thu Mar 25 2021
4

Smooth record, and thought I recognized them from Paul Simon's Graceland album! Africa refreshes me :)

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Fri May 07 2021
4

Beautiful vocal music, a treat for ears. This album not only improved my mood immensely, but also gave a feeling of such pure joy. Happy, full melodies, in combination with a great mix of vocals.

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Sun Sep 19 2021
5

Love it. The companion piece to Graceland. The real heart and soul of that album on full display here. So pure and recorded with just the right amount of "space" and reverb. Feels very present but also very comfortable. Love the balance and stereo play between the ears on headphones. The unaccompanied human voice is the purest and sometimes most powerful way to experience music. Would love to hear this performed in person so I could really feel the vibrations of those voices.

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Sat May 29 2021
4

Absolutely beautiful singing. Felt like Red in Shawshank Redemption listening to opera in the prison yard: "To this day I have no idea what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are better left unsaid. I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it.” We read about Shaka Zulu, and talked about apartheid and Paul Simon, who produced this. Bought a copy on vinyl!

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Tue Aug 24 2021
4

Slick. Did some background reading (like everyone else I think) and discovered these guys were the backup on Simon's Graceland. Cool. You could easily put this music on in the background and have it run all day - not disturbing, occasionally noticing something really special. And I think that's both good and bad in that it kind of all blends together. But if you had to have something that does that, it would be this sound. Beautiful, positive energy.

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Wed Mar 01 2023
4

This is the type of album that makes me thankful for this project. I might not have been exposed to it otherwise and that would have been a shame. This album is equal parts energizing and relaxing. I will have to check out the rest of their albums.

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Fri Feb 24 2023
5

I loved listening to the melodies and sounds that made up the songs. This was absolutely beautiful, and I can see myself turning this music on again in the future.

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Wed Mar 01 2023
5

This has been one of the absolute finds of this project for me. I was aware of LBM through the Paul Simon album Graceland, and seeing them on British TV in the 90s. I was pretty ambivalent towards them in my youth, and enjoy their embellishments on Graceland. This was an absolute delight though. The vocal arrangements are so delicate and perfectly put together, and it is simply a joy to listen to. Otherworldly; holy. Five stars - I will keep coming back to this.

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Wed Jan 13 2021
4

It’s just so peaceful and blissful. Relaxing, weirdly enough. I love the harmonies and the rhythms of the vocals. Some mouth sounds, like clicking and hissing. Idk, I feel like I’m having a really nice spiritual experience. I really like it, but let’s be honest, they run together a lot. By the end of the record, I felt like I could really use some other instrumentation or something to break it up. The stomps and claps on the last track were so welcome.

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Tue Apr 20 2021
4

First thought: weren't these guys "world music for people who don't like world music"? I sort of avoided them after hearing a couple of commercial crossover tracks, although they were good on Paul Simon's Graceland, which propelled them to stardom. I'm happily surprised by the quality of this. Great acapella harmonising with a small number of male voices. Recording seems fantastically done (and I think I read Paul Simon produced it?). There's a deep echo-ey resonance to the voices, which sail through the tracks, making it all sound easy. Personally, I find the English-language tracks aren't quite as enjoyable. Maybe it's because I can't understand the lyrics on the other tracks, so I'm just getting a pure enjoyment of the voices without literal meaning. Or maybe it's because these guys are more comfortable and practised in their native tongue. But in any case, it's still a solid album which makes me want to check them out more. 4/5. Edit: this also feels like a tokenistic inclusion on the list, given how little traditional/folk/ritual music is given coverage. But it would be stupid to hold this against the album itself.

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Tue Aug 24 2021
4

I remember Ladysmith Black Mambazo from Paul Simon’s music and read that he produced this album. The harmonies are amazing and so chill, which is the point of this style of music. Wawusho Kubani sounds like the call and response of gospel mixed in with Stomp. How Long reminded me of Barbershop Quartet and Rain, Rain was like 50’s Early rock. Overall, I wish I understood more of the lyrics, but I really appreciated the talent of the singers.

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Fri Sep 24 2021
4

I don't expect many other entries on the list to sound like this. That's a shame, as the recording captures something unique and captures it well. There's a definite devotional aspect to the songs, though they neither present themselves as a logical series nor explode into true long-form. There's something wrong-way-rubbing about "world" music. Not sure if it's contextual or actually in the aura of the music, but as the body percussion comes in at the end of the LP that feeling sharpens.

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Wed Nov 03 2021
4

You love ladysmith black mabazo. And for good reason. Wonderful choruses building momentum with turns and cannons. Authentic unsacrificing sound with beautiful lyrics. When the sun says goodnight to the mountain.

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Thu Oct 13 2022
4

"Shaka Zulu" is a studio album (I believe it is their 24th) from the South African male choral band Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The South African musical style is called isicathamiya which is best described by the European style a cappella. This album followed their collaboration with Paul Simon on his album "Graceland" and was actually produced by Paul Simon with assistance from Ladysmith Black Mambazo founding member Joseph Shabalala. This album is quite good. An album that lifts up your spirits. Great harmonies. The band recorded some older Mambazo songs as well as some actually in English. The album was the bands' first international hit and won the 1988 Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Recording. "Unomathemba" begins things and the first thing you notice is the beautiful harmonies. It is happy sounding. They're laughing. They're keeping the rhythm with their feet stomping. The second song "Hello My Baby" is sung in English. There's kissing sounds. There is chanting. "Lomhlaba Kawawunoni (The Earth Never Gets Fat)" is one of my favorite songs on the album. Just beautiful harmonies. Sung in their native Zulu language. The album ends with "Wawusho Kubani? (Who Were You Talking To?)." More chanting. Hands clapping adds to the rhythm. Another song highlight. One of my favorite things about doing this challenge is coming across albums that you haven't heard before and you like. This album definitely is one of those. And if anyone likes the Paul Simon "Graceland" songs "Homeless"and "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" you'll probably like this since Joseph Shabalala was featured prominently in those songs.

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Mon Feb 20 2023
4

These guys are so tight, their voices blend magnificently. It gets a little samey, but damn if it isn't beautiful.

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Wed May 19 2021
3

3.5/5. I don't know what to think of this. I have never listened to anything like this before. It did not sound bad. I didn't necessarily enjoy listening to it, but I also did not dislike listening to it. Interesting stuff for sure.

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Wed Jan 31 2024
3

Daylight come and me wan' watch the Lion King!

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Tue Apr 13 2021
2

No coneixia aquest grup i el meu desconeixement de la música africana és absolut. Música sense instruments, només amb veus, i amb un punt espiritual. He començat a escoltar-lo amb interés, però m'ha acabat cansant.

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Wed Oct 12 2022
1

Can't do this either - bloody lion king graceland nonsense. Yes it is beautiful music, so is throat singing and polka, but I cannot listen to any of it

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Wed Mar 08 2023
1

This album is just the boring parts of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” on loop for 36 minutes. It sounds like one long continuous song, couldn’t tell you the beginning or end of anything, it all blends together and it isn’t even in an interesting way.

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Wed Jan 27 2021
5

This is the first time I've listened to a full Ladysmith Black Mambazo album and I really dug it. It's one I will listen to again for sure!

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Wed Apr 21 2021
5

So I’m a sucker for world music, so I love this so far, although the Spotify link says 1969, not 1987. Love.

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Mon Jun 28 2021
5

Este es un buen ejemplo de porque este ejercicio vale la pena. Es un disco que de otra forma jamás hubiera escuchado, y quizás requiera paciencia y un estado de ánimo muy específico, pero en ese contexto es una joya.

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Sat Jul 31 2021
5

Phenomenally consistent harmonies

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Tue Aug 31 2021
5

an absolute gem, who needs paul simon anyway

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Sun Sep 19 2021
5

I find this extremely calming and beautiful. Wonderful that a group like this achieved international success.

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Wed Nov 17 2021
5

Woah! I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed this. Fantastic stuff!

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Mon Nov 29 2021
5

This is the shit I am here for

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Fri Dec 03 2021
5

This album was simply beautiful, coupled with the history of the album and the group, it's absolutely an album I would classify as an album that must be heard before you died.

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Thu Dec 23 2021
5

Never knew this existed. Great music.

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Thu Feb 10 2022
5

Pure, rich & beautiful tones. I was fascinated! Paul Simon connection?

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Fri May 13 2022
5

Pure optimism. What a joy to listen to something that is musically amazing but resonates so powerfully.

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Fri Jun 24 2022
5

Beautiful soothing sounds. Really pleasant relaxing easy listening.

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Wed Sep 28 2022
5

35 years from first hearing this album I still can't find the words to properly describe it. I do enjoy it, though it isn't something that has been on regular rotation. Maybe that will change now

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Sun Oct 16 2022
5

Only knew them from Graceland. This was a great listen.

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Mon Dec 05 2022
5

Pure gold! This is the reason to have something like 1001 albums. Loved every minute and probably would not have found without this site!

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Thu Dec 08 2022
5

Dope album. Virkelig vakkert!

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Thu May 11 2023
5

Absolutely amazing! So unexpected, but so good! Took me to a magical, spiritual place, sounds great, lovely and unique technique.

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Wed May 31 2023
5

When the first song started, I literally got goosebumps - growing up listening to "Graceland" (and considering it the best album of all time) I immediately recognized these wonderful voices! What a pleasure this album was - the resonance, the harmonies and all without instruments, which you never miss. I immediately added it to my Spotify favorites so I can come back to it again and again!

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Wed Jun 21 2023
5

I enjoyed listening to the beautiful a cappella voices. Incredible harmonies covering a lot of themes. Maybe not something I’ll have in my regular rotation, Shaka Zulu creates an almost meditative mood that I found incredibly soothing.

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Wed Jun 21 2023
5

Lovely and moving. Like being gently rocked to sleep.

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Wed Jun 21 2023
5

This was very pleasant music. Something that I agree should be listened to at least once in a lifetime.

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Wed Jun 21 2023
5

So glad to hear the beautiful choral harmonies of this group and the soul of South Africa today.

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Sat Sep 30 2023
5

I love Graceland and I like this - so soothing and accomplished. 36 minutes whizz past and I want to play it again.

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Fri Nov 17 2023
5

Although I don't understand everything they are saying, the vocals still speak to my soul. Damn this was good.

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Fri Dec 08 2023
5

I had a recording of their acapella performances on VHS. I love them so much.

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Sun Dec 17 2023
5

It's rare to get an album in this exercise that you know will be a five start within the first 20 seconds of track one.

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Thu Jan 18 2024
5

This was so relaxing to listen to while working. Very soothing a capella.

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Sun Jan 21 2024
5

Loved this album, such an enjoyed listen

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Wed Jan 24 2024
5

This album, from beginning to end, is a shining gem!

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Sun Feb 11 2024
5

So... This was kind of I think exactly what I needed. I usually listen to albums periodically throughout the day. I tend to take breaks here and there. But the night before I was assigned to listen to this episode, my dad died. I was assigned this yesterday obviously. But I didn't get around to it until today. I listened to it while driving to my parents house to be with family. So it hit real hard. It was absolutely beautiful and I loved it. I think I will be coming back to this. It will hold a special place in my heart. Thanks for this.

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Mon Mar 04 2024
5

Quite a unique and enjoyable listening experience. Probably the best acapella group I've ever listened to. 9/10

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Wed Mar 27 2024
5

For some reason only three tracks were available to play.

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Wed Apr 17 2024
5

I listened to this album this morning (April 17, 2024) while I was reading my email. It brought me peace and energy to start what I know will be my busy day. I did not understand what they were singing but as I've said before, music has a way to calm and soothe the savage beast. Shaka Zulu did just that it calmed me and soothed me.

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Thu Apr 25 2024
5

Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a South African choral group that was propelled to international fame for their contribution to Paul Simon's Graceland. Shaka Zulu is the album that the group release right after touring with Paul Simon. This Grammy winning album contains a collection of lovely songs with nothing outside of the sound of ten voices, in practiced, rich harmonies.

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Sat Apr 27 2024
5

Ethereal. Sweet heavenly music.

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Thu May 09 2024
5

Who doesn't love Ladysmith Black Mambazo?

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Sun May 12 2024
5

So lovely. Close your eyes and sink into it. Or listen to it while on a train, like I did, and peacefully watch the landscape roll by.

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Wed May 15 2024
5

Looking at my cats while I listened to this record absolutely made me cry

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Fri May 24 2024
5

Beautiful. The only way you can describe this album. The human voice fully on display. I can listen to this all day and never tire of it.

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Sun May 26 2024
5

A great performance! It’s soothing and relaxing but still has so much to offer.

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Mon May 27 2024
5

How the sounds on this album can be produced by only human voices amazes me. Of course everyone is familiar with Ladysmith Black Mambazo from Paul Simon's Graceland album but by removing Paul Simon, Ladysmith Black Mambazo really shines here. Absolutely stunning. Makes me want to hear more from them. 5/5

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Wed May 29 2024
5

Fantastic, beautiful stuff. Don’t have a lot to say about it, just really, really good. I can see why Paul Simon wanted to work with them.

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Fri Sep 25 2020
4

Very calming, healing album. Goes great on a park stroll to just clear your head and energy. A lot of it blends together, language barrier issue but it smoothly transitions all the way through. Standout Tracks: Golgotha, Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain, Wausho Kubani? (Who Were You Talking To?)

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Fri Jun 11 2021
4

Good shit. Calm, beautiful, peaceful

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Thu Mar 11 2021
4

Another good album I never would have known

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Fri Feb 26 2021
4

Definitely an album worth listening to. A unique sound and a joy to listen to. Yes, I just wrote that.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Cool album of beautiful a capella and amazing harmonies.

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Mon Jun 28 2021
4

La verdad está muy chingón. "A surprise to be sure but a welcome one"

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Mon Feb 15 2021
4

Música africana. Shooting to fame as the vocal group on Paul Simon's classic album Graceland,

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Tue Apr 06 2021
4

Beautiful and soothing. A much appreciated sojourn.

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Sun Feb 14 2021
4

I liked it!! Different than my usual sounds, but :)

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Wed Mar 10 2021
4

Good background music to work to

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Sat Jun 19 2021
4

Such nice vocal music. I listened to it while at work and it was just the right amount of relaxing.

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Thu Jul 01 2021
4

Great harmonies, good music for cooking or working

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Thu Jul 01 2021
4

South African a cappella band, I liked it more than I expected.

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Tue May 18 2021
4

Listening to this while walking through the Bird Sanctuary was like a religious experience.

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