The warriors of Mzansi reggae have returned! Thuthukani Cele was the man who helped craft Lucky Dube’s inimitable sound and toured the world during the 80s with African’s reggae king. The keyboardist parted ways with the group when Lucky was at his peak, forming the Slaves, who released a few albums in the early 90s before changing their name to the One People Band. Following Dube’s tragic death in 2007, Cele and co were left flying the flag for local roots reggae (although struggling to fill Dube’s giant shoes), along with the current incarnation of the Lucky Dube Band.
The spirit of Lucky is still alive and well in the fingers and voice of Cele. This is top-quality reggae, full of inspirational, spiritual messages. The band also feature heavyweights like Isaac 'Mnca' Mtshali on drums and Ras Joel Klein on guitars, both of whom have also recorded with Stimela and many others, while the album was mixed and mastered by Dave Segal, the same man behind most of Lucky’s most popular releases.
‘Rise From the Ashes’ is a call to stop mourning, pick oneself up and move on. ‘He may be gone physically, but spiritually he will be with us forever’. The bluesy ‘Lucky Dube Was A Hero’ is on a similar tip, as is the final track, ‘Forgive Me If I Cry’ (“I’m still mourning my brother Dube…”). Unfortunately the band can’t seem to escape the sombre shadow of Lucky looking over them, guiding them musically, but perhaps now, some eight years after his death, preventing the band from breaking new ground.
This 12-track disc offers deep, downtempo roots reggae that will appeal to most fans of the genre, albeit with too few chances to pick their knees up and dance - the only exceptions being the title track, ‘Never Stop Reggae’ (with lyrics that sum it all up: “You will never stop the reggae, even though you’ve killed the prophets”) and ‘Oh Mama’, which hints at a post-Lucky world for the band with Zulu lyrics and a more upbeat, Afro-soul groove.