1 Busi Mhlongo - Urbanzulu
Looking and sounding like Grace Jones fronting Juluka, Busi reveals
why she is regarded as the best singer in Africa, with sparkling tunes and arrangements
to spare. Essential!
2 Boo! - Boo!
Whatever the real title, Boo!'s debut captures the lunacy, energy and
wit of their manic live shows. Ska but not skaam.
3 Mahube - Music From Southern Africa
With so many talented Southern African musicians involved, it's amazing
that they could turn out such a focused, interesting and uplifting album.
A worthy and rewarding collaboration.
4 Koos Kombuis - Mona Lisa: The greatest love songs collection
They're all here, the sparkling string of musical gems from "the Baard
of Gordon's Bay".
Possibly, besides Juluka's 'Universal Men', the best SA album ever
If you always believed that you would never find an Afrikaans album/artist
worth spending bucks on, then catch a big wake up. "Why 2xKs?"...because
he loves us!
5 Manic Street Preachers - This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours
This, their finest album to date, justifiably cleaned up in the NME
readers poll for '98.
The best UK rock album since Radiohead's 'OK Computer' and the first
album in years to demand multiple, back-to-back listenings.
1 Karma – One Day Soon
With this bold set of hooky and evocative songs from her new post-Henry Ate band, Karma Swanepoel takes her place among the leading female singer-songwriters of the late '90s. Karma Good!
2 Mercury Rev – Deserter's Songs
They spent three years preparing to lead the oncoming acoustic rock revival and here is their awesome manifesto. This American band's third and best album is a dense and dreamy patchwork of rock's finest traditions as well as a signpost to the rock music of the "Noughties" (What are we going to call the new decade?)
3 Jorge Carlos – Trip Of Africa
The soundtrack to the Cape Town "Summer of Love '98/'99. Bushmen, trance, whales, rock guitar, lions and Dye@Koke. Great cover and perfect title!
4 Air – Moon Safari
It's been around awhile, but its French charm and cool pop still sounds completely fresh and spacey. One to last for quite a while.
5 Gomez – Bring It On
This "Tom Waits meets Dire Straits" roots rock album was recorded in a garage in South London but draws heavily on a variety of American folk-rock influences. Difficult to describe, just buy it!
1 Colorfields - Incidents
Tim Parr's latest musical adventure takes his 11-person ensemble, and
the listener, on a musical trip through the sonic and funky soundscape
of contemporary SA.
2 Johannes Kerkorrel - Tien Jaar Later
A welcome collection of the highlights of this seminal Afrikaans
singer-songwriter's first decade. "Gee jou heart na Hilbrow",
3 REM - Up
Their drummer left so they just went out and recorded what is being
described as their best album of all. "Three-legged dog" indeed.
4 Various Artists - Re Rooted
Remix all the best SA music into new shapes and formats and you have the
"Freshest" album around. Tananas, Sugardrive, Colorfields and the
5 Fun Lovin' Criminals - 100% Colombian
Second "groovejazzdownanddirty" album from the coolest, New York dudes
on the rock scene. Barry White…saved my life!
1 Paul Hanmer – 'Window To Elsewhere
How could he follow the brilliant jazz-roots of 'Trains To Taung'? With a pared-down laid-back simple but effective jazz album, ably supported by all his talented friends.
2 Hootie and the Blowfish – 'Musical Chairs'
The surprisingly good sequel to their mega-platinum 'Cracked Rear View' and 'Fairweather Johnson' albums. Brimming with crack songs and eclectic backing instrumentals. Highly listenable.
3 E'Smile – 'Mi House'
Rated by local fundis as the next big kaito thing, 'Mi House' includes the smash hit 'Joburg City' as well as the groovy title track and much more. Stuff the recession, lets dance!
4 Various SA Artists – 'Sound Offerings From South Africa'
This double CD package is Gallo's attempt at giving all those global SA music fans a quick but comprehensive taste of all the different artists and styles currently putting SA music on the map. From rock to gospel to kwaito, they're all represented here. A good reference collection.
5 Hole – 'Celebrity Skin'
Consider all those doubters well-silenced. Courtney Love and her gang have put out one of the best rock albums since, well, since Nirvana I guess. Great songs and arrangements and an album that will still be played when others have become tedious. That's the Hole truth.
1 Lauren Hill - 'The Miseducation Of Lauren Hill'
Eagerly-awaited solo album by the Fugees' first lady of hip-rap. The mother of Bob Marley's grandchildren and the sweetest, sexiest and songiest woman on the planet dishes up a banquet of soul, gospel, thoughts, tunes, funk and beauty.
2 Lucinda Williams - 'Car Wheels On A Gravel Road'
It's rock-country (Steve Earle produced it) but no other female vocal album comes close to this breathtaking mixture of great songs and the voice of an angel with a liking for Jack Daniels. The constant rotation album of the month.
3 Moses Taiwa Molelekwa - Genes And Spirits
The shy piano-man from Mannenberg's Jazz Cafe bursts on to the SA jazz stage with this heady brew of contemporary SA jazz and its many strange musical relations. It's on the Sheer Sound label which, these days, is a bankable guarantee.
4 Mango Groove - 'Dance Sum More'
Possibly the best South African kewela-pop dance album of all. To us, it may be old hat but to the many fans of this band all over the world (and growing rapidly, based on sales at One World online) it's the most exciting thing they've heard since Qkumba Zoo topped the Billboard Dance chart.
5 Soundtrack - 'The Big Lebowski'
'Tarantino-esque' collection of the music from the Coen brothers' latest fliek. The highlight is the Gypsy Kings' take on 'Hotel California' but there's also Dylan, Costello, Kenny Rodgers (really!), Captain Beefheart and other wild and crazy musos. Works on its own but is even better with the film in your head.
1 Arnold - Hillside
Interesting new 'Britpop' band with their follow-up to their 'Barn Tapes' EP. A bunch of acoustic ballads with something strange creeping into the mix all the way through. Recommended.
2 José Padilla - Souvenir
Café Del Mar's resident DJ gets his own album and loads it with some of the coolest Iberian Peninsula trance-pop heard in many a while. Played this at a party last week and had a queue forming for info on this essential summer CD.
3 Trans Sky - Killing Time
I watched Warrick Sony and Brendan Jury perform tracks from this, their new debut album at the launch a few weeks ago. I still can't get a copy of this CD but have been playing a taped copy of it non-stop and am convinced that this could be the album to take SA music to a wider and hipper audience. Search it out, and if you see two copies, please let me know.
4 Neil Finn - Try Whistling This
The talent behind Crowded House releases his first solo album and, freed of the restrictions and responsibilities of a group environment, it's a classy piece of work. Catch the first single 'She Will Have Her Way' and you'll be convinced.
5 Soweto String Quartet - Zebra Crossing
We all say we support SA music and wish that one of our SA acts can crack it internationally. Yet, when they do, there is always a lynch mob ready to decry their success. When I first reviewed this album, I didn't take to it at all but now that 'Zebra Crossing' is been given an American release, it's time to give it a re-listen. Actually, it's not bad at all, see what you think!