Zimbabwe Frontline Compilations

Stern’s line of Zimbabwe Frontline compilations offers one of the most professional and available set of discs released on Zimbabwean electric pop. Beginning in the late 80s with the first installment, the second CD highlights the 80s-90s transition, while latest release covers more current, mid-90s artists.

Zimbabwe Frontline – Volume One

Released: 1989
Label:  Earthworks – CDEWV9
Format:  LP, CD
Running Time:  42 minutes, 9 tracks.
Stocked by: out of print but still listed by Barnes & Noble, Amazon. LP available form Natari.

First release in a series of three from African music specialists Earthworks. Balances the more traditional music of Mapfumo, Mtukudzi, and Banda against Devera Ngwena’s rhumbira, The Four Brothers’ jit and the South African-inspired sounds of the Green Arrows. Three releases seem to exist and contain different tracks. (Audio samples are in downloadable mp3 and RealAudio format.)


Zimbabwe Frontline – Volume Two:  Spirit of the Eagle

Released:  1990
Label:  Earthworks – CDEMV18
Format:  CD
Running Time:  52 minutes, 9 tracks.
Stocked by:  Amazon, Africassette, Dandemutande, Natari. Available used from eBay.

More masterful Zimbabwean guitar on the second release of this Earthworks series. The increased number of Banda tracks makes Spirit of the Eagle the most “Mapfumian” of the three discs. Head and shoulders above most compilations this is an excellent collection, but, in my opinion, the weakest link of the three. (Audio samples available here.)


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