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DVD Review: Ladysmith Black Mambazo Live



The Deal: Recorded at a show in Ohio last year, Ladysmith Black Mambazo proves that its world music is still world-class.

The Good: It's hard to believe you can get this much depth and range from a vocal chorus. The nine-member group sounds like an orchestra. Looking like a troupe of male Rockettes with their head-high kicks, the white-sneakered troupe also incorporates slick Temptations moves into their choreography. But it's the incredible vocal tapestry this South African ensemble creates that has made them global superstars. From the celestial doo-wop of "Hello My Baby" to the African tribal rhythms of what founder/leader/composer Joseph Shabalala calls the group's war song, "Makoti," Ladysmith Black Mambazo expands the horizons of world music. Together since 1960, the group got international attention with "Homeless," the tune they recorded for Paul Simon's 1985 release, Graceland. Even though Simon wrote the lyrics, the group has embraced it as its own refugee anthem and their moving performance of it brings even the hardest audiences to tears.

The Bad: Nothing to report.

The Verdict: No matter how many times you've seen them, Ladysmith shows are always worth going back for another look. Their singing is otherworldly, and you can always amuse yourself by placing bets as to how much longer the aging troupe can get their legs above their heads for those amazing high kicks.

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