ALICK Macheso is a lucky man – the fella that Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi was referring to in his song “Raki”.
Had it not been that his Orchestra Mberikwazvo brand has been around for over two decades and commands cult-like followers, he could be a “has-been” right now.
Had the majority of artistes in the sungura genre decided not to sound like Macheso by offering revellers a different museve vibe, “Dzinosvitsa Kure” would have been an easy pushover.
But Macheso is great at being Macheso, so trying to beat Macheso at his own game is impossible. Just like Jah Prayzah is the best at being Jah Prayzah and Thomas Mapfumo is the original Gandanga.
Pretenders will do their thing and make one or two people dance but when the original product comes – it takes over.
That is the case with sungura right now, no one is offering an alternative to Macheso’s brand of sungura.
There is nothing amazing about Macheso’s latest six-track offering. When juxtaposed with vintage Macheso who shook the country with yesteryear hits such as “Charakupa”, which came loaded with deep, thought-provoking lyrical content, heavily buttressed by some inimitably arranged instruments – “Dzinosvitsa Kure” is simply a joke.
This new offering is just better than his last two mediocre albums in terms of production quality and that is as good as it gets.
The lyrical depth which Macheso was known for in his early days has been getting depleted with each new project and on this album he hits a new low.
On most tracks he only drops three repetitive lines before breaking out into instrumentals. It sounds as though he was rushing when he penned the lyrics to the tracks and in the process ran out of words.
The instrumentals are pretty much on point but lack enticing variance. On a track like “Chikuru Kurarama”, the guitars play the same chords for a lengthy period, making the song unnecessarily long.
Some music fans will say “ndiwo museve wacho” (that is sungura for you), but musically Macheso’s latest is shallow.
On “Tsoka Dzerwendo” Macheso proved that he can cut down songs to six minutes, which was good.
On his latest, the rumble in the jungle of redundancy continues for the musician with some of his solos being off to the extent of making him sound like an amateur bassist.
One would argue and say he was playing minor chords or playing off beat but in this case Macheso actually fails to construct alluring solos.
In essence he tried too hard to prove a point to the extent that on the track “Kudzwai”, for instance, he dilutes Noel Nyazanda’s creative and very enchanting solo progression with his bass guitar.
Music lovers know that the sungura maestro’s former drummer, Obert Gomba, was a god in the world of drumming and the void he left, well, it is still that, a void.
The new drummer, while he exudes some cool class, he is nowhere near Gomba and that also sap some magic out of the project.
The fact that Macheso had to rely on a computer to produce some drum beats that he required – shows that all was not well in the studio and the results are there for all to see in the final product.
Multi-award winning journalist and Herald Entertainment Editor, Godwin Muzari, neatly summed it all up in a recent article.
“Despite the not-so-delicious meal he prepared on his previous album ‘Tsoka Dzerwendo’ and a disaster he brew on its predecessor ‘Kure Kwekure’ (Kwatakabva Mitunhu), Macheso’s fans have faith in their cook.”
It is about the cult-like Macheso followers, who will just eat whatever their favourite chef prepares, it is not about how good the music is, as long as it says Alick Macheso – to them it is a good meal.
As British politician Lain Duncan Smith puts it, “Luck is great, but most of life is hard work.”
Macheso is a hard worker and if he gets lucky after two disastrous albums – so be it.