Lucky Dube
November 1, 2008

Lucky Dube - Retrospective (Audio Version) Track list
  1. Baxoleleni
  2. Abathakathi
  3. Rastas Never Die
  4. Slave
  5. Prisoner
  6. One Live (Live) (
  7. Crazy World
  8. Different Colours
  9. My Game
  10. Trinity
  11. Guns And Roses
  12. Crime And Corruption
  13. Changing World
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Essential -Votes: 6-
Very Good -Votes: 3-
Good -Votes: 1-
Average -Votes: 0-
Disappointing -Votes: 0-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 0-

Total votes : 10
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 5
Lucky Dube has been hailed as 'The shining star of African reggae' and 'South Africa's biggest selling contemporary artist'. However, he wasn't merely this, he was a modern day hero with a message that has touched millions of people's hearts around the world. With an incredible 21 albums under his musical belt, he has proved himself one of not only South Africa's, but also the world's greatest reggae superstars. A man with superb musical taste and genius, an artist with a message, with a reason and a rhyme behind everything he does. On October 18, 2007, Lucky Dube was killed in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville shortly after dropping two of his seven children off at their uncle's house. Police reports suggest he was shot dead by carjackers.

Lucky Dube was born in Ermelo, then in the Eastern Transvaal, near the house now Mpumalanga, on 3 August 1964. His parents separated before his birth and he was raised by his mother, Sarah, who named him because she considered his birth fortunate after a number of failed pregnancies. Along with his two siblings, Thandi and Patrick, Dube spent much of his childhood with his grandmother, while his mother relocated to work.

As a child Dube worked as a gardener but, realizing that he wasn't earning enough to feed his family, he began to attend school. There he joined a choir and, with some friends, formed his first musical ensemble, called The Skyway Band. While at school he discovered the Rastafari movement. At the age of 18 Dube joined his cousin's band, The Love Brothers, playing Zulu pop music known as mbaqanga. The band signed with Teal Record Company, under Richard Siluma (Teal was later incorporated into Gallo Record Company). Though Dube was still at school, the band recorded material in Johannesburg during his school holidays. The resultant album was released under the name Lucky Dube and the Supersoul. The second album was released soon afterwards, and this time Dube wrote some of the lyrics in addition to singing. Around this time he also began to learn English.

On the release of his fifth Mbaqanga album, Dave Segal (who became Dube's sound engineer) encouraged him to drop the "Supersoul" element of the name. All subsequent albums were recorded as Lucky Dube. At this time Dube began to note fans were responding positively to some reggae songs he played during live concerts. Drawing inspiration from Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh, he felt the socio-political messages associated with Jamaican reggae were relevant to a South African audience in an institutionally racist society.

He decided to try the new musical genre and in 1984, released the mini album Rastas Never Die. The record sold poorly - around 4000 units - in comparison to the 30000 units his mbaqanga records would sell. Keen to suppress anti-apartheid activism, the apartheid regime banned the album in 1985. However, he was not discouraged and continued to perform the reggae tracks live and wrote and produced a second reggae album, Think About The Children (1985). It achieved platinum sales status and established Dube as a popular reggae artist in South Africa, in addition to attracting attention outside his homeland.

Dube continued to release commercially successful albums. In 1989 he won four OKTV Awards for Prisoner, won another for Captured Live the following year and yet another two for House Of Exile the year after. His 1993 album, Victims sold over one million copies worldwide. In 1995 he earned a worldwide recording contract with Motown. His album Trinity was the first release on Tabu Records after Motown's acquisition of the label. In 1996 he released a compilation album, Serious Reggae Business, which led to him being named the "Best Selling African Recording Artist" at the World Music Awards and the "International Artist Of The Year" at the Ghana Music Awards. His next three albums each won South African Music Awards. His most recent album, Respect (2006) earned a European release through a deal with Warner Music. Dube toured internationally, sharing stages with artists such as Sinéad O'Connor, Peter Gabriel and Sting. He appeared at the 1991 Reggae Sunsplash (uniquely that year, was invited back on stage for a 25 minute long encore) and the 2005 Live 8 event in Johannesburg.

One year after his untimely death the US based record company Rykodisc unleashes the album (cd/dvd) 'Retrospective'. The two-disc digipack contains extensive liner notes, a 13-song disc (including songs never before available in the US) and a bonus DVD, featuring a 90-minute concert, "Lucky Dube Live In Concert," plus five music videos ("Slave", "Prisoner", "Different Colours", "Trinity" and "Guns And Roses") never before released in the U.S.

The excellent package features a faithful chronology that represents different phases of Lucky Dube's career, from his first release in 1982 to his last in 2006. We're sure that most songs on the album are already known and loved by the reggae community. Baxoleleni and Abathakathi are two soulful mbaqanga tunes, recorded in 1982 and 1984. Next comes the title track of his first reggae album, Rasta Never Die. Although the album sold less then his African sets, he continued to record reggae music. In 1987 the album 'Slave' hit the world. The title track Slave became one of his most enduring songs. In 1989 'Prisoner' was released. The strong title song is included here. Drawn from the 1991 album 'House Of Exile' is the compelling song Crazy World, followed by the optimistic song Different Colours, which was recorded in 1993 and can be found on the album My Game. That same album also carried My Game, a hypnotic one-drop anthem, complete with a nice dub section, about his battle against the enemy in a spiritual way. Excellent choice! The 1995 anti racist song Trinity comes from the album of the same name. Guns And Roses deals with the post-apartheid situation in South Africa, where there is still injustice, oppression and violence. Changing World closes the album. The melancholic ballad is a perfect ending of a well balanced retrospective.

Rykodisc has done a fantastic job here. Not only 13 of Lucky Dube's best tunes (did he ever record an inferior tune?) are here, but the DVD is a true bonus giving you a good impression of the man's charisma and musical qualities.