LONG WALK TO FREEDOM (2006) celebrates Ladysmith Black Mambazo's rich, prolific career via a concise 13-track set. For LONG WALK, the South African vocal group selected some of their finest compositions and rerecorded them with contributions from guest artists like Sarah McLachlan, Emmylou Harris, and Zap Mama.
The track list features many of Ladysmith's biggest songs, including their 1973 international hit "Nomathemba," and two tracks from Paul Simon's GRACELAND (the recording that brought them to widespread attention in America). The group's unique sound, built on lush, layered harmonies, township-influenced song structures, and rhythmic clicks and whirs, is dazzlingly apparent on nearly every track. While not a comprehensive retrospective, LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is an excellent sampler of this dynamic group's achievements.
Down Beat (p.73) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he 'Thula Thula' Shabalala solo, an improvisation of a traditional lullaby, is showstopping....The highlight is the gently lilting and uplifting 'Shosholoza'..."
JazzTimes (p.77) - "[W]ith fresh recordings featuring a multicultural assortment of A-list guests....Most stirring is an exalted 'Shosholoza'...featuring a grand summit of South African music giants."
Dirty Linen (p.91) - "[A] fairly comprehensive collection of the group's heaviest hits recorded with guest artists..."