on 6 January 2014
I recently saw "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" in the theatre and made a mental note to check out the soundtrack, as the music plays prominently throughout the film. As it turns out, there are TWO soundtracks from the film: there is the orchestral score by Alex Heffes, and then there is this one, containing the songs that are featured in the film.
"Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (17 tracks; 51 min.) can roughly be divided up into two groups of songs: the South African songs, and then the Western songs. They are mixed up on the soundtrack, almost too perfectly (one Western, then an African, then another Western, etc.). The soundtrack kicks off with a delicious "Mzala" by the Havana Swingers (I'm guessing from the 1940s). A bit later on we get two more jazzy tunes from legendary South African band The Manhattan Brothers, "Be My Guest", and even better "Jikela Emaweni" (also from the '40s). Intermixed with them are three great traditional South African songs, sung a cappella and, as the CD liner notes tell us, recorded "live on location, South Africa, 2012" by the Mandela OST Cast. Check out the great "Kaphume Aphendlini", with the delightful "call and respond" structure. Midway into the soundtrack comes Art Blakey's "Amuck", a 7 min. jazz drum/percussion solo from the late 50s that will blow your mind. Bob Markey's "War" cover comes next and simply feels... ordinary after "Amuck". Deep into the soundtrack, we are treated to The Special A.K.A.'s "Nelson Mandela", a hit in the UK in the early 80s (the Special AKA is a "nom de plume" for The Specials, that delicious ska-reggae band from the 80s). After two more treats from the Mandela OST Cast (check out the harmonizing on "Thula Baba"), the soundtrack concludes with U2's first new song in over 4 years, "Ordinary Love", which is just okay and certainly not their strongest song. Not to mention that it feels like it is cut off rather abruptly. But in the end this is a minor quibble.
The "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" soundtrack is chock-full of great music. The selection is rich and diverse, but it all comes together to provide a very pleasant listening experience. This is certain to stay in my car's CD player for quite a while. "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!