Monday, May 14, 2012

Film review - Under African Skies

[Film review for RightNow.org.au, full article at their website]

Under African Skies tells the controversial story of Paul Simon’s African-influenced, critically acclaimed album Graceland, and reunites him with the South African musicians who contributed to the album 25 years on.

In the mid-1980s Simon got his hands on an album by South African band, The Boyoyo Boys. He was so taken with what he heard that he saw a potential new direction for his own music.

From the outset Simon portrays a certain amount of political naivety about the situation in South Africa that swings between disappointing and endearing throughout the film.

Although aware of the tensions in the country and encouraged to replicate the sound he wanted in a New York studio, he insisted on visiting the South Africa in 1986 to start work on new songs. Given the international cultural boycott, American singer and social activist Harry Belafonte suggested he seek the approval of the African National Congress before going. However, Simon refused the idea that he should be required to ask permission from any group to pursue his artistic venture.

Artists Against Apartheid founder Dali Tambo believes that Simon’s timing was “not helpful”. But others, like Graceland producer Koloi Lebona, saw an opportunity to promote South African music in the mainstream, so that it would no longer be seen as third world music.


Cont... Full article on RightNow website

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