Afro Beat, Reggae
Safari Music – LMCD1970
Reviewed by Peter Winkler, May 1st, 2014
Some years ago my family and I travelled to Tanna, a remote island in the Vanuatu archipelago and stayed in a village near Mount Yasur, the world’s most accessible active volcano. On the first night in our grass-hut accommodation a truck pulled up and the young men of the village converged to unload all the equipment and instruments needed to set up a rock band. I helped them plug everything in expecting them not to be able to play yet. They jumped on the instruments and proceeded to play just about every Bob Marley and the Wailers song in that magnificent canon of reggae masterpieces. Such is the impact of Marley, his music, his message and the ubiquitous nature of reggae music as a world wide cultural phenomenon.
Larry Maluma is a Zambian reggae artist based in Melbourne since moving to Australia in 1985. He is a leading artist in the Australian Afro Beat and Reggae scene. Ndakondwa (I’m Happy) is his eleventh album. It’s a collection of 11 excellently produced tracks in which he sings in English and his native languages, Nyanja, Bemba and Tonga.
The band on these tracks is at the top of its game. The rhythm section, percussion, keyboards, guitars, backing vocals are all excellent and the big horn section is as good as any playing this style in the world.
Personally I much prefer it when Larry and backing vocalists sing in one of his native tongues. Very few Afro Reggae artists have mastered writing songs in English to the brilliant heights of Bob Marley or Peter Tosh.
Music in this genre rarely breaks new ground and why should it? There is value in producing roots music faithfully and Larry Maluma and his illustrious band do that beautifully.
I haven’t seen Larry Maluma performing live yet but next time he’s playing near me I’ll be there. I’m sure the live gigs are very uplifting.
My trip to Vanuatu was a memorable journey not least due to the nightly reggae concerts by the boys from Tanna. Reggae music is here to stay.
VIEW: Videos and interviews at