Listen To The Wind


Be With Records reissue Caiphus Semenya's Listen To The Wind, originally released in 1982. Caiphus Semenya, AKA Mr Letta Mbulu, is a South African legend, and Listen To The Wind, his iconic debut album, is simply a superb modern-soul/boogie album. Now a revered composer, musician, and arranger, Caiphus left apartheid South Africa in the '60s for self-imposed exile in Southern California together with his wife, Letta Mbulu. Settling in Los Angeles he started working with the likes of Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba and other exiled and semi-exiled South African artists, as well as, of course, his wife Letta. Caiphus also found himself working with and composing for a broad range of jazz and pop artists, including Lou Rawls, Nina Simone, and Cannonball Adderley. His facility with both jazz and African forms served him well. His LA stay was also the beginning of an ongoing collaboration with Quincy Jones, the fruits of which can be tasted in Caiphus's African compositions for the scores to Roots (1977) and Spielberg's adaptation of The Color Purple (1985). Listen To The Wind is a deeply impressive synthesis of early '80s US production and instrumentation together with his traditional South African musical roots. There are elements of boogie, soul, funk, and jazz, all shot through with pan-African flavor, and moving effortlessly from up-tempo floor fillers to more meditative, slower soulful tracks. Produced by Caiphus himself, he makes full use of a stellar line-up of session musicians including Nathan East, Michael Stanton, Sonny Burke, and Paulinho DaCosta. And of course, there are Letta's show-stopping vocals. Opener "Angelina" is a breezy, feel-good SA boogie-funk classic, harmonic and horn heavy. It's followed by the gentle reggae lilt of "Play With Fire". A real melodic slo-mo delight, carried by the tropical vibes and, above all else, by the extraordinary performance of Caiphus himself and his backing singers. Closing out side one, the spectacular "Umoya" is driven by triumphant horns and slick bass, with proto-Graceland vibes. Caiphus trades verses with the unmistakable tones of Letta, and it sounds divine. Elegantly firing up side two is perhaps the album's best-known track. "Without You" is a heavenly slice of modern soul, smooth strutting, disco-fied funk with that unmistakably South African sound. "Ziph'inkomo" is a soul-soothing, swooning epic. The irresistible groove of frantic, percussive workout "Gumba Boogie" closes out what must surely be one of the greatest artistic statements of the 1980s. Mastered by Simon Francis. Faithfully restored cover art.