Tuesday, October 27, 2009
My brother's job recently took him to Cape Town, South Africa. While there, he was nice enough to explore some music shops for me and even brought some treats home. Of the records he scored, Universal Men by Juluka is my favorite. The music is clean and poppy, and blends afrobeat with folk and European/American rock of the mid-late 70's. The actual style that Juluka play is derived from a few South African genres. One of those interesting influential styles is known as Maskanda. Maskanda was originally a type of music played on inexpensive but practical instruments and was initially only one long song containing a changing, growing story from start to finish. Modern music that is influenced by Maskanda follows the more contemporary, "twelve songs per album" formula.
The most interesting thing about this record is its story. Juluka existed for many years before this debut LP release. South Africa was in the dead heat of apartheid and interracial music groups were unheard of. Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu were so determined to play together that they played in secret underground venues, the same way an American speakeasy would operate during prohibition. Despite countless physical attacks and verbal assaults by disapproving South Africans, the two trekked on in the name of music. To me that's a true punk rock story that should not go untold.