Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Ladysmith Black Mambazo 'Inkanyezi Nezazi (The Star And The Wiseman)'

Chart Peak: 63 [33 in 1997]

Featured in a popular Heinz TV commercial, the haunting accapella strains of 'Inkanyezi Nezazi' made Ladysmith Black Mambazo a household name during the course of 1998. The South African group are also well-known for their collaboration with Paul Simon on the acclaimed Graceland album.
Quick quiz question for you - with which other act contributing to Now 42 did Ladysmith Black Mambazo collaborate on a hit single in 1999? Answer later in this post.
It's obviously not uncommon for a track that appears on a Now album to be a less-than-massive chart hit, although in most cases it's a track released as a single very close to the release date of the compilation, suggesting that bigger sales were expected at time of going to press. This single, however, was re-released in the summer of 1998, before even Now 40 was released, putting this into the smaller category of knowingly-included minor hits. Oddly, that 1998 release was a package of remixes on A&M's dance imprint AM:PM, although this doesn't seem the sort of song that would lend itself to club airplay even with non-vocal parts added.

Presumably the track shows up here in respect of the big sales of a best-of compilation at Christmas 1998, and it's not surprising for a song that's sold albums rather than singles to make an appearance. It still feels incredibly out of place here, though, so culturally distant is it from the typical sound of the British chart. It's not just that they're not singing in English, but the very structure of the song is alien and there are only vocals - but not only singing, the choir use all manner of voice music, with hums and percussive clicks. Whilst I've no grasp of what the song's about (I'm guessing a star and a wiseman are involved somewhere) it's a pleasant listen and a nice change, though I can't fathom what it has to do with baked beans, a food I haven't liked for decades. It's hard to imagine what people who bought this album for Armand Van Helden or the Cartoons would have made of it either.

And the answer to that question? B*Witched. They made the Top 20 together with 'I Shall Be There' in December.

Also appearing on: Now 31 [with China Black]
Available on: Ultimate Collection

No comments:

Post a Comment