Music » Livewire

Lucky Dube

With Earthforce and Charleston Okafor. Thursday, October 10, at Peabody's.

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Lucky Dube began his recording career nearly 20 years ago, singing traditional Zulu Mbaqanga music. But the influences of Jamaican superstars such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were soon to have a strong impact on the native South African. After embracing the spirituality of Rastafari, Dube changed gears and started singing reggae music.

An exceptional vocalist, Dube's three-octave range is far superior to that of Tosh, the singer to whom Dube is most often favorably compared. Ironically, there are times when he could pass as a dead ringer for Tosh, though Dube's music sounds like no other in the business.

One of the most respected artists in reggae, Lucky Dube has made a name for himself by continuing to play serious roots reggae, while the majority of his contemporaries hopped on the dancehall bandwagon years ago. Moreover, he naturally blends traditional African sounds and rhythms into the predominantly Jamaican genre, yielding an element of world-consciousness in his music seldom present in reggae from the island.

Last summer saw the release of Dube's latest, Soul Taker, on Shanachi. The album finds Lucky Dube following in the well-worn path of his nearly 20 other studio releases. Cynics may fault him for his reluctance to further develop his unique Afro-reggae sound, but few could deny the sincerity of his new tunes and the sheer quality of the musicianship. Songs such as "Sleeping Dogs" and "Love Me (The Way I Am)" reveal an honest passion nearly forgotten in modern music. Likewise, his energetic live performances make him a top-flight act for all fans of roots reggae.

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