OLIVER MTUKUDZI Collection - The Tuku Years (Putumayo) Rating: NNN
A legend in his native Zimbabwe, singer/guitarist Oliver Mtukudzi, aka Tuku, remained largely unknown on this continent until Bonnie Raitt started singing his praises, and career-boosting appearances on David Letterman and Austin City Limits brought home his unique hybrid of mbira and mbaqanga. He sings passionately about the struggle of daily life in a country filled with political and social strife, yet Mtukudzi has no time for sad songs. His compositions are played in joyous contrast to his surroundings, with a melodic, super pop-MOR bent. The Tuku Years is a collection of songs from seven albums recorded over the past five years, including a rare song performed in English, Hear Me Lord. Tuku is no slouch on the guitar, and his backing band gives great support, so the album will go over well at summer parties.
Oliver Mtukudzi plays a rare local gig at the Phoenix Monday (July 21).