Monday, 19 January 2015

Teenage Lovers - On Tour (c1974) on 8-Track

Well… Electric Jive steps out even further! I finally broke down and acquired a refurbished 8-Track player so that I could simply listen to some rare South African cartridges that have been accumulating on my shelves… most notably items I have yet to find on vinyl.

The deck I used, a Panasonic RS-808, was acquired on eBay and carefully refurbished by daveandjudi. The player arrived in excellent condition and I highly recommend their services if you wish to explore this esoteric archival avenue.

Of course, 8-Tracks are famously tricky and this cartridge was no exception. It broke on first insertion and I had to engage in some quick schooling via YouTube to repair it. Another cartridge, seemingly showcasing some amazing 1970s maskanda, alas and perhaps ironically, was mislabeled and featured some straight Afrikaner concertina selections.

My first impression of the format was one of apprehension probably due to the obvious irregularities of the medium. But after a second listening, the nostalgic warmth of the tape hiss combined with the ever present wow and flutter asserted an analogue uniqueness that won me over. In the spirit of collage, even hearing some of the other programmes faintly in the distance of the dead spaces between tracks, seemed enchanting.

There is definitely something different in listening to music in this format. The sound has a blockiness—a low bassiness—which separates it from the precision of vinyl. The tape establishes a blunt soundscape that reinforces its vintage quality, but one that is strangely devoid of the familiar pops and clicks heard in the vinyl experience. Certainly this medium is lo-fi, funky and cool!

Today’s feature On Tour by the Teenage Lovers is simply a classic! One that is in urgent need of a reissue. Furthermore, I am simply amazed that this group has never been featured here at Electric Jive.

The Teenage Lovers were contemporaries of The Movers and the group included the highly influential keyboardist Rex Rabanye—an icon of the 1970s who rivaled the great Sankie Chounyane—and guitarist Lawrence Goreoang.

The group hailed from Ikageng a township near Potchefstroom south west of Johannesburg in the North West Province of today and formerly the Transvaal at the time of recording. The TX prefix on the number plate of the car on the cover confirms the Potchefstroom connection.

According to Max Mojapelo their first hit, Botany 500, was issued in 1974 (the track is also featured on this cartridge) but must have come out around 1971 as their second album bearing the same name (RPM 7008) should have preceded RPM’s compilation Greatest Soul Hits - Volume 2 (RPM 7012) which was issued in 1972. Their debut album Meet the Teenage Lovers (RPM 7005) was probably issued around 1970 on the RPM label, a subsidiary of Gallo.

On Tour could be a compilation of hits c1974, as it does include their best-seller Botany 500 plus a few other tracks featured elsewhere. Though it is hard to tell given that 8-Track cartridges often included additional material to fill in the “programme gaps” so to speak. This album features 16 tracks, two of which are duplicates and one that remains uncredited on the label. To confirm some of the dates, Dikeledi was also issued on 45 rpm (RPM 979) in 1973 (Thanks Chris!)

Instrumental soul-funk-jazz landscapes are established in the opening track of programme 1, Sekhukhuni, where the brooding keyboard is peppered with saxophone. It only gets better from there! My only regret is that these tracks predate the long form conventions of bump jive and sadly just fade way too soon!

Kuyalalwa is simply amazing! An iconic dance classic that reminds me of Manu Dibango’s monumental Soul Makossa... that is, slowed down to a funkier 16 rpms. This track is ideal material for another Next Stop Soweto compilation if Duncan Brooker and Francis Gooding are willing!?

Sebatala is also one of my favorites and significantly it is the track that is repeated twice within the programme selections. Strangely, I feel as if this tune is channeling Edi Niederlander’s future hit, Ancient Dust of Africa. Am I going mad?

Papa Was a Rolling Stone and Meyer-Underground round off the must-hears. Notably most of the best tunes on this album are absent from the Teenage Lovers “Best of” compilations available at iTunes.

The cover shows the group in a red 1965 Plymouth Valiant made by Chrysler, a typical muscle car of the 1960s—one that would also host an 8-Track player and introduce consumers to the freedom of taking music on the road. Notice that the car is an American import as the steering wheel is on the left-hand side. The group-in-car image was a common convention of other RPM covers around the same time. Notably on the compilation A Night at Franco Italian Restaurant (RPM 1026) and the New City Heralds (RPM 7007). The car and 8-Track suggest mobilty, coolness and freedom.

Both Rex Rabanye and Lawrence Goreoang moved on to solo careers in the 1980s. Rabanye sadly began to loose his hearing towards the end of his career but was honored with a SAMA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 before passing away in 2010.

Earphones are recommended or just play loud!


Meet the Teenage Lovers
RPM, RPM 7005

Botany 500
RPM, RPM 7008

RPM, RPM 7010

RPM Greatest Soul Hits - Volume 2
RPM, RPM 7012
VA Compilation

RPM Greatest Soul Hits - Volume 3
RPM, RPM 7014
VA Compilation

On Tour
RPM, RPM 7019

Rafifi and Other Stories
RPM, RPM 7030
dated 1988 but must be a reissue from c1977 given other RPM issues

Dance with the Teenage Lovers
RPM, RPM 7051
1982 compilation but could be c1981
issued 1991 on CD

Best of the Teenage Lovers - Volume 2
Gallo, CDZAC 70
1998 compilation

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Bhundu Boys (1983)

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere the sun isn't shining too bright and so to remedy this situation the wonderful hopeful sounds of the Bhundu Boys from their debut LP from 1983. Personally I was in the UK to witness them riding a wave of popularity in so many pubs and clubs (I even worked as a roadie carrying their sound system at a gig in Fulham back in 1986). They were picked up by the label Diskafrique and later Warner and even supported Madonna at Wembley Stadium. But the story of what happened to the band is somewhat sad and reported in an interview with founding member Rise Kagona in the Guardian back in 2006.

But if its the music you want then sit back and enjoy some sunshine sounds.

The Bhundu Boys (Rugare 1000, 1983)

Download: Mediafire

Monday, 12 January 2015

Slow Drive to Soweto (1974)

Following our focus on seventies soul, groove and fusion it would be remiss not to repost this classic from seminal seventies band The Drive, established in 1971 by Henry Sithole and Bunny Luthuli. 

From the original post at matsuli:
Now some people really don't like it when African musicians make "non-African" music. This cuts close to the debate on authenticity, tradition and modernity. It has political dimensions and can get people very worked up. Witness the recent conversations on the WorldService blog when the writer expressed his dislike for - amongst others - the emphasis placed on the western aspects of African music. I don't want to get involved too far in this debate but I would like to briefly illustrate how jazz, soul and fusion in South Africa came to represent a declaration of independence and freedom from the constrictions that the Apartheid government had made regarding cultural and political expression.  

In the 1960s Apartheid social engineering in South Africa resulted in the promotion by the government of indigenous cultural styles. Nine different radio services were created along language lines. This was in line with the government's political strategy of eradicating an urban black population. The aim was to ensure that the black workers required for mining and manufacture were temporary sojourners in the urban areas with traditional homes in the rural countryside (the so-called bantustans, or independent homelands in government parlance).

Within this context playing or at the very least making a passing reference to non-indigenous styles such as jazz, soul and rock was subversive and understood and read to be a declaration of freedom from the government straitjacket. But this political act decreased the avenues available for musicians to make money. Finding and playing to audiences without radio exposure was difficult. Added to this were more and more restrictions and licensing requirements that mean playing to urban audiences in the seventies was inherently problematic. Not many nightclubs existed in urban areas and promoter often took risky decisions to put on live shows.  

The Drive (L-R): Bunny Luthuli, Temba (?), Tony Soali, Nelson Magwaza, Lucky Mbatha, Mavis Maseku, Stanley Sithole, Danny Sithole & Henry Sithole.(Photo © David Marks, Orlando, Soweto)

The Drive, along with The Movers, were South Africa's premier soul jazz band and represented an articulate black urban vision of a future at odds with Apartheid's engineers. Despite the political statement inherent in playing jazz or soul the music had a mixed reception. If you listen to the LP being shared today some tracks work better than others and some are probably best left on the cutting floor. 

Slow Drive to Soweto (1974, AYL 1009)
1. Sweet Lips
2. Do It Again 
3. Let It Be Me 
4. Spinning Wheel feat Lucky Mbatha 
5. Yesterday feat. Lucky Mbatha 
6. Whats On Your Mind feat. Lucky Mbatha
7. Love and Peace
8. For Friends 
9. Howl 
10. Slow Drive to Soweto

DOWNLOAD: Mediafire

Monday, 5 January 2015

Doing it in Soweto (aka Township Grooving)

Following on from the brilliant end of year mixes I thought it might be a great way to start the year by reviving an old compilation I did at my old blog. "Township Grooving - South African Soul, Funk and Fusion from the '70s" crosses many paths already travelled here at Electricjive. Enjoy!

From the original notes:
For young South Africans in the early seventies, groovin’ to “soul” or jazz provided access to a “non-tribal” identity at a time when the South African government was seeking to appropriate tribal identity in the furtherance of its apartheid policies. By contrast older musical styles including sax-jive, mbaqanga, and mbube were perceived by many young urbanites to be tribalistic, rural, and un-sophisticated. This rejection of older forms was also a symptom of generational and cultural change. The move to the city from rural areas (a trend necessitated by successive South African governments’ attempts to transform the rural black peasantry into an urban proletariat with roots in “traditional homelands”) weakened traditional bonds and opened up new possibilities for the construction of cultural and political identities.

Aside from a number of experiments with older forms it would take until the eighties for the “pure” older styles to regain currency with urban groovers. In part, this re-evaluation was prompted by the projects of foreign enthusiasts - Malcolm McLaren, Manfred Mann, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, and Paul Simon all worked with indigenous mbaqanga sounds. It was also driven by the ongoing “Africanist” attempt to reclaim and revitalise African identity. Prominent proponents of Africanism included the ANC, exiled musicians, and various internal Black consciousness movements.

The 1970s music served here is drawn from a number of different scenes and places. On the rich and varied menu are afrorock from Jonas Gwangwa and Assegai, afrobeat from Hugh Masekela, jazz-dance from Letta Mbulu, 60s soul from the Flames, mbaqanga soul from the Soul Brothers, “cross-over” pop, soul and rock from The Beaters, The Movers, Mpharanyana, The Cannibals and Margaret Singana, jazz-fusion from Dick Khoza, soul fusion from Pacific Express, sax-groove from The Hockers, and a little more.

While 1970s South African soul borrowed heavily from the Motown and Stax blueprint, its indigenous re-interpretation and articulation can’t be missed. Moreover, each producer tended to have his own style, and include his own innovations. Many of the key producers from the South African “soul” scene are represented here: Hamilton Nzimande - credited by many to be the first producer to take South African “soul” seriously, Rashid Vally - producer of seminal seventies jazz sessions, David Thekwane – producer of big-sellers The Movers and West Nkosi who took over the production reigns of the Mavuthela stable from Rupert Bopape.

For many the period documented here is best forgotten. Black music production houses were messing with Motown techniques whilst the soul of the nation was being plundered by successive National Party governments. It’s no wonder, perhaps, that some of the more dour political militants of the time had a problem with the soul scene.  

1.LM Radio excerpt
LM Radio was a non-stop music station, based in Lorenzo Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique, where the latest international and local hits could be heard. 
2. The Boy’s Doin’ It - Hugh Masekela (Masekela, Ekemode, Kwesi, Todd, Opoku, Gboyega, Warren) 
Original mover and shaker Hugh Masekela struts his stuff whilst backed by the funky Ghanaian outfit Hedzoleh Soundz. Taken from the Casablanca LP of the same name and dedicated to Fela Ransome-Kuti this track was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria in mid 1975.
3. Chapita – Dick Khoza (Khoza)
Acclaimed jazz drummer Dick Khoza was a regular and in-demand session-man at the many jazz venues in Johannesburg in the early seventies. These included the Pelican in Soweto where he played in the band the Jazz Revellers with bassist Sipho Gumede. The Pelican was a great musical laboratory in the 1970's. On any given night, legendary artists would pop in for a jam or perform as part of the Sunday night cabaret. Gumede was later to form the band Roots, then Spirits Rejoice with Bheki Mseleku, and in the early eighties the visionary band Sakhile. 
4. Switch #2 - Jonas Gwangwa and African Explosion (Gwangwa)
Jonas Gwangwa recorded his first LP in the USA on Ahmad Jamal’s label in 1969. A colleague of fellow musical exiles Caiphus Semenya, Hugh Masekela, Letta Mbulu, Dudu Pukwana, Abdullah Ibrahim and Johnny Dyani, Gwangwa later became the musical director of Amandla - the cultural ensemble of the African National Congress. 
5. Johannesburg Love Trip – Thembi (unknown)
Thembi had a top twenty hit in the Netherlands in 1977 with a pop version of Afrikaans folksong “Take Me Back to the Old Transvaal”. On the LP of the same name this Is a travelogue of the urban centres and languages of South Africa.  
6. Kinzambi – Assegai(Duhig)
Assegai was anchored by African musicians Louis Moholo, Mongezi Feza, Fred Coker and Dudu Pukwana. They were signed by British label Vertigo in the label's attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Afro-rock bands such as Osibisa. Taken from a re-issue LP Afro-Rock this track features members of the UK band Jade Warrior.  
7. For Your Precious Love – The Flames (Brooks and Butler)
This “Indian” soul group from Durban featured Blondie Chaplin and the Fataar Brothers. They released two classic albums in the '60's – 'Soulfire' and 'Burning Soul' - and then headed off to work with the Beach Boys. This song, a cover of the Impressions track from 1958, was a No. 1 hit on the Springbok Radio charts in October 1968 and spent 11 weeks in the Top Twenty. In the seventies a number of top US soul acts, including Curtis Mayfield, the O Jays, Joe Henderson, Tina Turner, Brook Benton and Percy Sledge all toured South Africa.
8. Harari - The Beaters (Mabuse, Khaoli, Ntuli)
The Beaters were formed by Selby Ntuli in the late 60s in Soweto and comprised Sipho Mabuse (drums), Alec Khaoli (bass), Monty Ndimande (guitar) and Ntuli (guitar). In March 1969 their first album Soul-A-Go-Go was released. A further two albums Bacon and Eggs (1970) and Mumsy Hips (1971) followed. In 1976 the band headed north for a three-week tour of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), which turned into a three-month success. As a result of this tour the band changed their name to Harari and recorded an album of the same name. This is the title track from that album. In 1978, Harari was invited to the USA by Hugh Masekela to perform with him. Unfortunately the bands leader Selby died and the tour didn’t take place. Harari did however support and back Percy Sledge, Timmy Thomas, Letta Mbulu, Brook Benton and Wilson Pickett on their South African tours. In 1979 they were the first black group to appear on South African television and the first black group to have their own show at the Colosseum in Johannesburg in 1980. In the same year the band was featured in a BBC TV documentary. The 1980 album Heatwave was released in the USA and in 1982 the Party 12” single entered the American Disco Hot 100. 
9. I Never Loved a Man - Margaret Singana (Russel)
Margaret Singana started performing with the Symbols in 1972 and had an early radio hit with Good Feelings. In 1973 she was cast as the lead singer in the musical Ipi Ntombi and became famous with white audiences for the song Mama Tembu’s Wedding. The production toured Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. However it was the song featured here that made her the first black artist to be feature on the Radio 5 hit parade. She suffered from bad health but made a comeback of sorts with the theme song from the series Shaka Zulu. Wheelchair bound and penniless Margaret died in 2000 after a long illness.
10. Ngasuka Ekhaya - Stephen Moleleki (Moleleki)
A Sotho language version of the George Benson track Broadway taken from a David Thekwane produced various artists LP Hlubane Special from 1980.  
11. Katlehong - Mpharanyana and the Cannibals (Radebe)
In 1975 the Cannibals, featuring young guitarist Ray Phiri, paired up with Jacob “Mpharanyana” Radebe who was considered by many to be the greatest male singer of the whole pre-disco soul era. They recorded together for four years producing a string of hits featuring Radebe’s impassioned vocals and monologues. 
12. How Long - The Movers (Chounyane)
The Movers were producer David Thekwane’s big success in the “soul” market. As with so many other bands playing within this genre they rarely addressed politics directly, but they rejected the ethnic associations used to divide people under apartheid and embraced the international sound purveyed by the likes of Wilson Pickett and Percy Sledge.
13. Get Funky(edit) - The Cannibals (Ndlovo, Phiri, Shongwe, Hlophe, Mtshali)
From 1979 and produced by Hamilton Nzimande this track in its full form at 15 minutes covers one side of the LP by the same name. The Cannibals recorded this soon after the death of star Mpharanyana and were later to evolve into the band Stimela. Ray Phiri gained fame (and in some circles notoriety) for working with Paul Simon on the Graceland LP and then having a song banned from airplay by the SABC. 
14. Brother - Pacific Express (Schilder)
Pacific Express originally formed in Cape Town in the late 60s. Following the arrival of pianist Chris Schilder in 1975 the band took on a jazzier sound and built a reputation that spanned the whole of the sub-continent. Members of the band included Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee, Robbie Jansen, Jonathan Butler, Barney Rachabane, Chris Schilder and others. Chris Schilder had earlier played alongside the seminal Soweto jazz-funk outfit The Drive with Ronnie Madonsela, Bunny Luthuli, Tony Soali, Nelson Magwaza, Lucky Mbatha, Mavis Maseku and the Sithole Brothers Stanley, Danny & Henry. This is the lead track off their 1976 LP Black Fire.  
15. Take Me Home Taximan - Soul Brothers (Masondo)
This example of mbaqanga soul at its finest is taken from the Soul Brothers 3rd LP from 1977 “I Feel So Lonely Without You”. Previously known as the Groovy Boys and then the Young Brothers they were persuaded to change their name to the Soul Brothers by producer Hamilton Nzimande in 1974. Original members included Zenzele Mchunu, David Masondo, Tuza Mthethwa and Hammond B3 organist Moses Ngwenya. From the moment they recorded their first two singles in 1976 and with the solid backing of legendary producer Hamilton Nzimande behind them, the Soul Brothers were consistent hit makers. With over 30 albums to their credit, the Soul Brothers now operate recording studios, a record company and a publishing business. They stand as one of the great success stories of South African music having survived disco, bubblegum and now kwaito.
16. Fly Me Home (edit) - The Hockers (Thekwane)
Legenadary big five producer David Thekwane's own composition and played by Thomas Pale, Lulu Masilela, unknown studio musicians and himself on a jazz-influenced South African sax jive tune. On the original tow track LP from 1976 the groove just keeps going ala Fela Kuti for a full 12 minutes.
17. What's Wrong With Groovin' - Letta Mbulu (Masekela)
A big favourite with the jazz dance crowd in the UK, featured on compilations by Gilles Peterson and Comet and also reissued as a 7" on Jazzman Records this Masekela penned tune by recorded by Mbulu in the mid sixties.
18. Capital Radio opening
At the close of the decade in December 1979 independent radio station Capital 604 started broadcasting into South Africa from the nominally independent Transkei bantustan. For a time they were able to broadcast a lot of content avoided by the SABC including many of tracks featured here.

Download: Mediafire

Monday, 29 December 2014

New Year Jive! An EJ Special

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Electric Jive!

We hope you’ve been enjoying the festive treats shared throughout December – and it is my pleasure to bring 2014 on EJ to a close with a smashing goody bag of 1960s and 1970s mbaqanga. Whether you’re ringing in the New Year with a celebratory party or doing something rather low key does not matter one iota – whatever your situation, our New Year Jive is the compilation that you NEED to be playing at full volume (and dancing along to) when the clock strikes twelve!

The girl group and groaner combination almost exclusively dominated the black pop music scene of 1960s and 1970s South Africa. The origins of the trend go back to the late 1950s with the birth of a girl group factory-line, the slow development of jive and the ultimate decline of intricate African jazz. Electric instrumentation arrived at the right time and the foundations of mbaqanga were laid. The tame early electric jive soon advanced into the now familiar rock-solid elastic mbaqanga, personified by fierceness, energy and thunder. Ensembles like the Sweet Sixteens and the Dark City Sisters successfully paved the way for the Mahotella Queens, who in turn influenced the formation of Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje, and on and on the story goes. Key to the success of the new mbaqanga girl groups were the strong-willed and determined studio producers (or ‘talent scouts’) who ran tight ships, encouraged a factory-line approach to music making and held close relationships with people in the right places – which ensured mbaqanga music was almost vehemently propagated across the state broadcaster’s Radio Bantu service. Although this chagrined the African elite, mbaqanga was already becoming a national craze and the black public firmly embraced the music in very much the same way their counterparts in the United States embraced the Motown sound.

“Utshodo Lumantwengu” is a fantastic example of mid-1960s girl group mbaqanga. This tune, telling the story of a girl fighting off the advances of a romeo hobo, was recorded in 1966 by Nobesuthu and Gcaba Twins. This shortlived trio produced a number of up-tempo vocal jives during 1965 and 1966 before the main singer – Nobesuthu Shawe – joined the rival Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje in 1967. One of Izintombi’s first big hits was “Pendula Magwala”, a fast-paced number with thrilling drum patterns and tightly layered vocal harmonies. Izintombi’s lead singer was Sannah Mnguni – who by 1972 had built up enough recognition and popularity to feel able to quit the group and form a brand-new ensemble named Amagugu. Sannah’s notoriety is celebrated in a collaboration with Zulu-traditional guitarist Frans Msomi and violinist Ncane Ndlovu, the appropriately-titled “Sannah”.

Although Izintombi tried and sometimes even overtook them in the popularity stakes, the Mahotella Queens were South Africa’s most popular girl group of the mid-to-late 1960s and early 1970s, releasing a string of hugely successful singles (on both 78 and 45rpm) and performing in venues ranging from wedding parties to huge soccer stadiums. “Jive Jibav No. 7” tells every boy and girl in the country to take part in the latest dance craze, while “Isigubhu Sabalozi No. 2” – the 1972 follow-up to a huge 1970 hit of the same name – emphatically states that the tough Mavuthela mgqashiyo beat shall never die. By the mid-1970s, the Queens’ tour schedule was so hectic that a number of other vocalists kept their name going on record. A multi-tracked Irene Mawela performs “Uthando Luyisilima” alongside Potatoes Zuma, aka Indoda Mbhodlomane, a wonderful bass vocalist but someone whose stage name rides the waves of that true king of the groaners, Indoda Mahlathini.

Two other groaners following in Mahlathini’s footsteps were Umfana Wembazo – real name Robert Mkhize – and Boy Nze – otherwise known as Lazarus Magatole. Mbazo’s vocals can be heard punctuating the chorus in Dulcie Luthuli Nabalilizeli’s “Ntomb’uthini” and in his own splendid solo effort, “Maye Mina”. Boy Nze’s “Uzobuya” isn’t one to miss either – it’s perhaps one of the finest solo records from a male vocalist that I’ve ever heard.

Alongside the Queens at Mavuthela were junior bands, some of whom over the years included the Mthunzini Girls, Izintombi Zomoya, Umgungundlovu Dolls, Love Birds and many others. The Mthunzini Girls borrow from the US and inject soul into the mbaqanga brew – Paulina Zulu is the lead singer on (and songwriter of) “Tsohang” and “Ikele Ngoaneso”, two downright funky Sotho tunes that should at least make your foot tap. Izintombi Zomoya’s “Isilomo” – a fantastically rapid tune with animated vocals and excellent lively instrumentation – should also stir your soul.

A few more notable highlights for me - "Orlando", featuring the perennial vocal sound of the Dark City Sisters in all their mid-1960s glory, with Esther Khoza shouting words of praise for the Orlando Pirates; the group's 1976 Sotho ode "Dikgarebe" with Grace Msika's mid-song chant and Joyce Mogatusi's inimitable alto; "Daly", from the somewhat unknown Lesotho Sisters, just for the delightfully swish three-part harmonies; "Sophie" by Izingane Zomgqashiyo and its sweet lead guitar patterns; the strength of vocal passion in the Umgungundlovu Dolls' "Vuka Uvale"; the archetypal electric elasticity in all its glory in Reggie Msomi's Love Birds' "Uzwakanjani"; and the effective simplicity of the all-too-short "Umhlaba Awunoni" from Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje under another name.

So that’s all from Electric Jive for the moment. Whatever the New Year brings, you can rest assured we'll still be doing our utmost best to bring the sounds of yesteryear back to the forefront where they belongs. We're very grateful for all the support and appreciation you send our way - we just do it for the music and the people who created it all. So... download the following mix of mbaqanga heaven and clear the floor, ready to jive until you drop.

See you in 2015!



08) BOY NZE – UZOBUYA (1971)


Monday, 22 December 2014

Love, Peace and Goodwill at the Office Party

Welcome to Electric Jive’s Durban Office Party mix-tape, featuring selections from an imagined 1970’s township 45rpm juke-box: anchored in soul, bumping into a little funk, dropping a slither of Shangaan roots, skirting with disco, and uncovering a gem - that blaxploitation classic “Shaft”, courtesy of “The Drive”, live at a seventies Soweto festival.

Every musician featured on this mix will have been part of the Johannesburg seventies township scene, shaping and being shaped by the multiple and intersecting musical influences available. Going on a count of recordings made, mbaqanga must surely qualify as the ”mainstream” at the time. However, there was also sufficient demand to justify the “black” labels making a mint from selling: soul, folk, reggae, country, psychedelia, rock, R&B, and traditional.

These jukebox selections showcase a small sample of the diversity of musical ‘sub-cultures’ that thrived within the same urban space and time.

The afro hair, clothing and sense of style evident in Ian Huntley’s photo (above) at Langa Stadium  in 1972, to me, oozes identity and confidence, but also a collective middle finger at the prescriptive and hostile apartheid system. Explorations in Black urban style and subculture were causing the system discomfort – black hippies, for example, must have really confused things for the average policeman.

Defiance does not always have to be hostile in its expression, witness the history of carnivals. Looking at the staggering number of recordings made in Johannesburg during the 70s we can see that the promotion of fun, love, peace and goodwill were also abundant.

So – in the spirit of love, peace and goodwill, herewith twenty five tracks from the juke-box.

We kick off with Black Funk, whose members have to be the same Pelican House Band that backed Dick Khoza in recording Chapita. West End Soul can only be the likes of Khaya Mahlangu and Ezra Ngcukana whose brass refrains sample Khoza’s Lilongwe, .. or, was that the other way around?

No matter what your ambivalence over the blaxploitation genre, you surely would be interested to hear The Drive giving Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft” extraordinary African horns? It is about time we upped the ‘grateful’ volume towards David Marks for capturing this and many other important live performances in South Africa. He has recently donated his entire Hidden Years Music Archive Project to the University of Stellenbosch.

From here, the mix flows through soul,soul- bump, a little disco-soul, some northern-soul-type vocals exploring alienation in love, and in the city, a ballad honoring South African jazz greats, some uptempo roots music, and a dash of 1971 mbaqanga from Joseph Makwela.  Hopefully there is something for everyone this year-end! Thanks for dropping by at Electric Jive. 

Wishing you:

Love Peace and Goodwill 

Electric Jive Durban Office Party 2014

1. Black Funk: West End Soul. (1975) H. Lebona. 45rpm Black Music (BMB44).
2. The Drive: Shaft. Circa (1975). Recorded by Dave Marks at unidentified Soweto Festival.
3. Hardways: Mameshane Ijuba (undated). Dlamini. 45rpm Score (SCO 145).
4. Mavis and the Shasha Boys: Take A Walk (1972) Mavis Maseko, Rupert Bopape. 45rpm (SJM 101).
5. The Apaches: Apache Way. (1974). R. Mbele, D. Thekwane. 45rpm soul.soul (SSB 027).
6. The Soul Explosions: Groovy Night. (1977). Uncredited. Black Music (BMB2006).
7. The Soul Masters: Steam Up. (undated). H. Ways. 45rpm Star (STB 422).
8. The Big Time Boys: Super Bump. (undated) Smitta, Hardways. 45rpm Jet (Meritone) (JET345).
9. Mavis and the Shasha Boys: Give it Stick. (1972) R. Ngcaphalala. 45rpm (SJM .101).
10. Shumi: Gideon, Early & McKay. (1974). Holler/Arr: Masingi. 45rpm (BUA8803).
11. Walter Dhlamini: Lonely City (undated). Z. Ngoma, E. Mabaso. 45rpm Fire (RE104).
12. The Hurricanes: Rich Man’s Daughter. (1975) Jacob Macheli, Donald Mbowane. 45rpm (RPM7756).
13. Sam Evans: Social Whirl (1970) Sam Evans. 45rpm Parlophone (SPD3014).
14. The Tycoons: What is a Man? (1976) The Tycoons. 45rpm Black Music (BMB 63).
15. The Butterflies: Facial Appearance. (1978) arr. Joseph Makwela. 45rpm Ziya Duma (ZD1013).
16. Jeremiah and the Shamings: Undisemba Usondele. (1976). 45rpm (Ring261).
17. The Meritones: Soul Bump. (undated). Lerole, Masingi, Ntaba. 45rpm Lita Records (LA 46).
18. Irene And The Sweet Melodians: Mfana we disco. (1978). I. Mawela, R. Bopape. 45rpm Ziya Duma (ZD1019).
19. Samuel Mabunda: Vusiwana. (1979). S. Mabunda. 45rpm Fast Move (BFM163).
20. Samuel Mabunda: Vuhlevahleva. (1979). S. Mabunda. 45rpm Fast Move (BFM163).
21. Joseph Makwela Nabafana Bezishingishane: Shibetana. (1971) Joseph Makwela. 45rpm (SJM .65).
22. Dali’s Beauty Queens: U-Mama. (undated). Naftali Dali. 45rpm Ilizwe (WZ 1108).
23. The Creations: Midnight Lover (1976). Z. Ngoma, M. Dibango. 45rpm Gallo (PD 1270).
24. Soul Explosion: Soul Five. (undated) 45rpm Atlantic City (AYB1108).
25. The Drive: Love and Peace (1974). Off the album “Slow Drive To Soweto”.

Mix-tape Mediafire download here
Individual tracks download here

Monday, 15 December 2014

Tin Whistle Jive and the Roots of Kwela - Volume 3

We continue our survey series examining the history of the tin whistle in South Africa and the subsequent global popularity of kwela. Volume One and Two trace the early roots of this style and can be viewed here at Electric Jive along with an extensive discography at flatint. Volume Three covers primarily 1957 but also drifts into early 1958. This volume explores not only how the music captured the political and social shifts taking place in the country—the Treason Trial, the bus boycott, liquor bannings—but also the expansion of the stylistic form of the music through experimentation, some that included international collaborations with visiting American clarinetist, Tony Scott.

Volume 3 (1957-1958)
(Flat International / Electric Jive, FXEJ 17)

01) ALEXANDRA CASBAHS - Azikhwelwa - 1957
(Mabel Mafuya, Mary Thobei, Troubadour 78 rpm, AFC 429, mata 1835)

The spoken introduction or "sketch" common to many kwela tunes and most famously featured in Elias Lerole's Tom Hark was, by 1957, quite common. Troubadour however had taken the phenomenon to a new level. Topical issues of the day were reported upon, sang about, recorded and out in the public often within 24 hours of an event. The company had a pressing plant in the same building as their recording studio and this along with some key marketing skills by producer Cuthbert Matumba (for example he used a mobile-unit to test new recordings at railway stations and other public venues), made turnover rapid and the company unrivaled by its competitors. In many ways Troubadour operated like a news service or as Mary Thobei refers to it: “We had our own ‘Special Branch,’ a sort of bush telegraph, and as a result we knew in advance what would happen in our communities, be it social or political.” (Molefe) This is also most apparent at the beginning of some Troubadour records, which open with the announcement: “News in Record…” or “This is the Troubadour Daily News…” Often spoken in tsostitaal, a blend of Afrikaans and African languages, these sketches were often quite political, but because of their speed of production would get to the streets before sensors could block them.

Azikhwelwa (We will not ride), a tune by the Alexandra Casbahs, is attributed to Mabel Mafuya and Mary Thobei and operates as a form of news item alerting people to the bus boycott of 1957 in Alexandra. Thobei opens the tune saying: “Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it was on Monday morning, the 7th of January, 1957 when everybody was shouting Azikhwelwa…” The bus boycott had been implemented by residents of Alexandra against the Public Utility Transport Corporation (more commonly known as PUTCO) over a rate hike of 4 to 5 pence. During the boycott, residents chose other forms of transport to get to and from work, but most walked the 30km roundtrip journey. At its peak, 70,000 residents refused to ride the local buses and the action also spread to other townships including Newclaire and Mamelodi. The boycott lasted for at least three months and was only finally resolved on April 1st, 1957, when the 4 pence rate was restored. The protest drew the daily attention of the South African press and is generally recognized as one of the few successful political campaigns of the apartheid era.

02) FERNDALE HAPPY WHISTLERS - Brandys and Beers - 1957
(Motaung, Troubadour 78 rpm, AFC 438, mata 1845)

The sale of alcohol to Blacks in South Africa in the 1950s was highly regulated. In 1957 it was still illegal for non-white consumers to purchase commercial brandy and beer, but rather they were forced to acquire alcohol through state-run systems of beer-halls. Of course this strategy led to an extensive underground business of 'home-brewing' and the rise of the illegal sheebeen or 'speak-easy'. Cuthbert Mathuba's introduction on Brandy's and Beers mocks the regulation by confirming the consumption of illicit alcohol in Sophiatown. Like Azikwelwa before Matumba does this without regard of the censors: "Johannesburg is a big city. Of which everybody is admiring to see. Listen to the boys playing in a big party in Sophiatown. Everybody was happy drinking beers and brandys. Listen to the boys." By aligning the penny whistle music with the illicit party and the illegal activity, Matumba transforms the 'rebellious' street music into a form of protest music.

The sketch or introduction on many records was becoming a noteworthy component of kwela recordings and significantly was often reviewed along with the tune it accompanied, for example in Drum magazine. Sometimes it would even be mentioned in advertisements such as one for Trutone's Envee label:  “Meet a new flute player—Black Duke—who goes to town on—NV 3082—Dukes Blues, Skukuma Duke—The intro on this record will send you.” (Drum, March 1957)

The critique or review of the introduction implied that it had social value in addition to the music itself. Often these introductions were judged on their authenticity in catching a 'slice of life'; certainly humor played an important role but sometimes darker moments such as social strife or relationship problems were depicted, for example in Spokes Mashiyane's introduction to Odhla-Dhla below. Often these introductions influence the way we interpret the music.

03) BON ACCORD HITTERS - Pretoria Special - c1957
(Hit 78 rpm, HIT 38, NL 171)

04) BON ACCORD HITTERS - American Moguws - c1957
(Hit 78 rpm, HIT 38, NL 172)

Hit was another label issued by Troubadour and these two tracks both include interesting 'sketches'. The spoken introduction on American Moguws opens with Cuthbert Matumba role playing with Mabel Mafuya: "Sophie, I'm from America. Is there any good music around here?" to which she replies in a confident tsotsitaal something I am unable translate. But the tune implies interest in South African music from American visitors (I am not sure what the term "Moguws" refers to), something that would be affirmed later that year with the visit of Tony Scott.

05) BEN NKOSI - Lova - 1957
(Strike Vilakazi, Trutone 10" LP, TLP 1047. Original Quality 78 rpm, TJ 152, T 6677)

06) BEN NKOSI - Sponono Ndiye Bhai - 1957
(Ben Nkosi, arr., Trutone 10" LP, TLP 1047. Original Quality 78 rpm, TJ 152)

Ben Nkosi, Drum, April 1958
Issued on Trutone's compilation 10" LP Penny Whistle Jive, the liner notes describe Ben Nkosi as "the experimenter searching for 'New Sounds' and new heights of expression. [...] Ben, besides being an excellent guitar player has experimented with the recorder, the aristocratic cousin of the penny whistle - and clarinet. Experience on these instruments has strongly influenced his Penny Whistle technique." (TLP 1047)

Lova, I think, is a great example of someone pushing the limits of this instrument; something that Todd Matshikiza in Drum magazine issues of the time was encouraging. In a November 1956 review Matshikza quotes a colleague, Dale Quaker: "Shucks, once you hear one penny whistle, you’ve heard the rest. Like what Rezant said the other day, you go to a concert and after hearing the first number, you can go home ‘cause the rest will be the same’”. But by March 1957 Matshikiza was singing the praises of the instrument by comparing it to the string band: "I feel strongly now that the string band must try to be different from the past five years. They must put up the same struggle as the flutes are doing so gallantly. First, one man recorded the flute. Then a duet. Then a trio. Now there are six, seven and eight flutes with rhythm accompaniment available on record. Sometimes with a sax, piano and drums into the bargain." (Drum, March 1957)

Ben Nkosi, from Dube, along with Peter Macontela went on to lead one of Gallo's most successful kwela groups, the Solven Whistlers.

07) SPOKES MASHIYANE - Odlha-Dlha - 1957
(Spokes Mashiyane, Quality 78 rpm, TJ 149, T 6775)

As mentioned above, Spokes Mashiyane's Odlha-Dlha opens with a particularly interesting 'sketch' that illustrates the social strife within relationships. Here Spokes (I am assuming it is him speaking) questions his girlfriend: "Where were you this Sunday? I looked for you at your sister's in Entaga". She replies something about not being at Entaga Street, but rather at a friend's place on Goli Street. To which he replies: "You Lie. I saw you in Swartberg!" to which she responds with a comment I can't make out, and he ends it with "You think I'm blind!" followed by his whistle.

According to the liner notes of Tony Scott’s only South African LP, the track Odlha-Dlha was “the biggest African Hit of 1957”. The tune was recorded by a number of groups that year, but I'm assuming the notes are referring to Mashiyane's version on the Quality label that also attributes him as composer. The Alexandra Dead End Kids also made a recording of the tune (RCA 66) but interestingly that one is credited as "traditional". Tony Scott would record the track again with the Dead End Kids (RCA 99) in October.

08) TONY SCOTT with the ALEXANDRA DEAD END KIDS - Ou-Dhladhla - 1957
(trad., RCA LP "Tony Scott in South Africa", RCA 31104. Original RCA 78 rpm, RCA 99)

09) ALEXANDRA DEAD END KIDS - Ou-Dhladhla - 1957
(trad., RCA 78 rpm, RCA 66, 8HBB-11)

After touring Europe for eight months, American bebop clarinetist, Tony Scott was invited by the Witwatersrand University Jazz Appreciation Society to perform in South Africa. His visit lasted just ten days but in that time he performed tirelessly in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban and recorded with a number of local artists for at least three record companies including Teal, Gallo and Trutone.

His arrival in South Africa was a big deal, not only because he was an American jazz celebrity, but because of the political stance he took, and is reflected in the title caption of the extensive Drum article: "SCOTT, RED HOT — Tony Scott, the great American jazzman, refused to play to Whites only in South Africa." The unattributed article goes on: "And yet, you know, it nearly didn't happen, this Scott visit. Back in America Scott's friend's told him "Don't go to South Africa. That is Jim Crow country that. You'll never meet the darkies. They won't let you play for them" But Scott got talking to Dave Katznelson, the South African who was arranging the tour, and told him: "If I can't play to everyone, I'm not coming. I must play for the Non-Whites. I insist." (Drum, October 1957)

And thus it came to be that Tony Scott became the first, white [American] to perform with and before multi-racial artists and audiences in South Africa. "He was no White musician playing second-fiddle concerts for the Non-Whites. He was in the country to play music. If you liked his music it didn't matter what your color was." He mixed with some of South Africa's leading jazzmen; in Johannesburg, he jammed with Kippie Moeketsi; while in Durban he performed with pianist, Lionel Pillay. The Durban event was fondly acknowledged with a "Thank You" postcard from Scott to club owner Pumpy Naidoo, and published in the November 1957 issue of Drum.

Tony Scott with Kippie Moeketsi, Drum, October 1957

Along with the live performances, Scott was also eager to collaborate with local musicians and made a number of recordings with penny whistle groups, most notably with Teal's Alexandra Dead End Kids and Gallo's Solven Whistlers. The article points out that he also recorded with Lemmy Special Mabaso's Alexandra Junior Bright Boys, though I have yet to find these recordings. At Trutone he made at least one track with the African Penny Whistle Serenaders.

10) TONY SCOTT with BENJAMIN MASINDI - Ben's Bounce - 1957
(Ben Masindi, RCA LP "Tony Scott in South Africa", RCA 31104)

11) TONY SCOTT with the ALEXANDRA DEAD END KIDS - Mangamanga - 1957
(S. Molepo, RCA LP "Tony Scott in South Africa", RCA 31104. Original RCA 78 rpm, RCA 98)

RCA Advert, Drum, October 1958.
Some have criticized Tony Scott's recordings with the South African penny whistle groups as being merely neocolonial insertions of American authority onto South African idiom. Perhaps criticisms similar to those pointed at Paul Simon 30 years later. But in many ways, as awkward as these tracks may sound, I do find these moments of seeking to collaborate, documenting a dynamic clumsiness that becomes symbolic of an honest attempt to collaborate across racial, national and generational differences.

Scott's recording session at the Teal studios are warmly described in the liner notes of his LP: "By this time the word had got round town that Tony Scott was playing with Penny Whistles and within half an hour most of the African population of the city seemed to have arrived at the studio. Disregarding protests from the recording and repertoire staff they invaded the studio (among them many photographers) and started joining in, singing and clapping. The tape machine was still running but it was impossible from the Control room to see what was going on or which microphone was which. If the result was, to say the least of it, unbalanced (and, let it be confessed, something of a shambles) it was felt to be sufficiently interesting to reproduce on the record [...]" (RCA 31,104)

And as Nathaniel Nakasa, describes in an extensive article on the penny whistle groups in Drum: "No wonder Tony Scott, the top Yankee clarinetist and the bosses of Tevlevision and the screen say, "Wow! These boys have talent in their fingers!" [...] With his famed black rod, Tony Scott dogged the footsteps of these lads, and loved every minute he was with them." (Nathaniel Nakasa, "Penny Whistle is Big Time Now", Drum, April 1958)

Shakes Molepo, Drum, 1958
Scott's collaborators on these sessions, the Dead End Kids, comprised of four youngsters from Alexandra township: Shakes Molepo, Benjamin Masindi, Joseph Mahlatsi, and Sophonia Namini. Mangamanga, issued on 78 rpm (RCA 98) and the first track on Scott's LP, was penned by the group's leader, Shakes Molepo who is described in Nakasa's article as: "This lad—he's five foot, no more—couldn't manage school and the whistle at the same time. One of them had to suffer, and it wasn't that silver pipe. [...] They made two discs with Tony Scott, the American jazzman, when he was here. The dough bought neat togs." [...] The Dead End Kids led by Shakes Molepo, are another bunch of boys who make the penny whistle tick. They are loud and always exciting entertainment for their audience. But they lack the showmanship that rocketed Lemmy Mabaso into fame." (Nathaniel Nakasa, "Penny Whistle is Big Time Now", Drum, April 1958)

12) ALEXANDRA DEAD END KIDS - Evaton - 1957
(W. Khokhone, RCA 78 rpm, RCA 66, 8HBB-12)

In an interesting self-concious moment, the banter between the Dead End Kids in the introductory sketch alludes to the recording coupling number—RCA 66—which suggests to me that catalogue numbers must have been prearranged before recordings rather than assigned, post-production, as one might assume.

Evaton is the flip side of Ou-dhladhla, featured earlier.

13) SOLVEN WHISTLERS with TONY SCOTT - Something New In Africa - 1957
(T. Mokonta, Gallotone LP "Something New in Africa", GALP 1015, ABC 16725)

14) SOLVEN WHISTLERS with TONY SCOTT - Solven's Hoch (SNFA) - 1957
(Mokonotela, Decca LP "Something New From Africa", LK 4292, ABC 16935)

Recorded for Gallo, these two tight collaborations with the Solven Whistlers mark the pinnacle of Tony Scott's collaborations with penny whistle groups. Something New In Africa was featured as the first track in an amazing compilation LP of the same name; and issued in 1958. Oddly the track does not credit Scott but he is later acknowledged on the UK, similarly titled, LP Something New From Africa (LK 4292), where the track Solven's Hoch is retitled as "...from..." with the spoken introduction from "" collaged on. As the introduction was only pasted on the tune intended for British audiences, and is already featured on their first track, I have edited out in the latter.

Oddly, the title track was seemingly only issued by Gallo on 78 rpm (GB 2770) a year after Scott's visit to South Africa, around August 1958, and as reflected in the exuberant five star review Bloke Modisane gave the disc in Drum: “This is a real gasser. There are things happening here, The wild frenzy is taken out of the quell. This is cool, with a modern alto and clarinet playing melodic lines over the harmony of a penny whistle ensemble. A big winner.” (Drum, September 1958)

African Pennywhistle Song - 1957
(Tony Scott, S. Molepo, Trutone LP "Kwela-Kwela", RMG 1129)

This track finds Tony Scott's recording with a third South African company, Trutone. At first I assumed he was performing with a number of unnamed Trutone penny whistlers, but later I realized the track is credited to Shakes Molepo of the Alexandra Dead end Kids and so I imagine that the Kids and Scott simply recorded for Trutone and adjusted their name accordingly. This track starts out in the most conventional manner reminding me of generic kwela tunes typically found on soundtracks, maybe for films by Jamie Uys and others. But the track eventually heats up and saves itself from exclusion.

16) SOLVEN WHISTLERS - Penny Whistler's Kwela - 1957
(Solven Whistlers, Gallotone LP, "Something New in Africa", GALP 1015, ABC 16725)

17) SOLVEN WHISTLERS - Hamba Kwela - 1957
(T. Mokonta, Gallotone LP, "Something New in Africa", GALP 1015, ABC 16725)

As mentioned earlier, Ben Nkosi along with Peter Macontela lead this very successful group. Without matrix numbers it is hard to date these recordings but I suspect them, along with those of the Basement Boys below, to be quite seminal. All four tracks are also featured on the Something New in Africa compilation LP. After listening to Tony's Scott's clarinet collaboration with the Solven Whistlers, I noticed the inclusion of the saxophone here. At first I thought it was a clarinet, or maybe even Scott on saxophone, but then I recalled that Nkosi also played clarinet, and ultimately came to the conclusion that it was a saxophone. To my knowledge these are the first kwela tunes to include the saxophone.

Sax jive, the stylistic precursor so mbaqanga, has its roots in kwela, and is generally often traced back to when Strike Vilikazi convinced Spokes Mashiyane to record three tunes with the saxophone around March 1958. But it seems to me that the four tunes featured here might predate that famous Mashiyane session. Without matrix numbers, it is hard to say! Certainly Todd Matshiza's Drum reviews of flute music refer to the occasional inclusion of sax and piano as early as March 1957 and kwela's historical obligation to majuba african jazz could not exclude the possibility of other wind instruments 'crashing'. Many young aspiring musicians who could not afford big instruments cut their teeth on the penny whistle and would often perform in groups of five or six often emulating the big band sound. So it is almost obvious that at some point these musicians would eventually upgrade to more sophisticated instruments or start incorporating them into their penny whistle arrangements.

Nevertheless, if these four tunes do follow those made with Tony Scott, then I wonder if the initial collaboration between flutes and clarinet, between American and South African, may have indirectly induced the clarinet to be substituted for the saxophone, an instruments that in turn would ultimately replace the flutes entirely and dominate South African music for the next twenty years. Mere speculation?

18) BASEMENT BOYS - Kwela Bafana - c1957
(A. Strike, Gallotone LP "Something New in Africa", GALP 1015, ABC 16725. Original Gallotone 78 rpm, GB 2728, ABC 16338)

19) BASEMENT BOYS - Upstairs Jump - c1957
(A. Strike, Gallotone LP "Something New in Africa", GALP 1015, ABC 16725. Original Gallotone 78 rpm, GB 2728)

It is my estimate that these two tunes by the Basement Boys were recorded around December 1957 roughly three months before Spokes Mashiyane would record Kwela Sax, Sweet Sax and Big Joe Special (TJ 500). Interestingly the spoken introduction literally documents the historic collaboration between flutes and saxes: "Where are you going, my Bras? We're going with those other guys who are playing saxophone... and we're going to play flutes. And I don't know what's going to happen. Kwela Bafana!"

The Basement Boys, as Lara Allen reveals, were formed in 1956 by none other than Albert Ralulimi along with Specks Rampura, Simon Majassi, and Sam Hlongwane. "The circumstances that led to Ralulimi’s graduation from street busker to recording artist typify those of many contemporaneous penny whistlers. Albert Ralulimi grew up in Sibasa in the Northern Transvaal (now Limpopo Province), and spent much of his childhood herding cattle and playing the traditional ocarinas and reed flutes of his area. Aged eighteen, he moved to Johannesburg and worked his way from employment as a golf caddy to a telephone operator. In 1954 he became friends with Spokes Mashiyane and they spent many Sunday afternoons together at Zoo Lake where Ralulimi learnt ‘the finer points’ of penny whistling. [...] Busking in front of a Berea hotel one Saturday afternoon, the Basement Boys impressed Roy Evans of Gallo Record Company so much that he invited them to make a recording. Ralulimi recorded for Gallo until 1958 when he signed a contract with Trutone." (Allen p. 42)

20) MSAKAZO SWINGSTERS - Kiss Me Hard - c1958
(Hit 78 rpm, HIT 109, NL 308)

(AJBB, Gallotone LP "Something New in Africa", GALP 1015, ABC 16725)

Other than Spokes Mashiyane, Lemmy Special Mabaso was probably one of the most well known and successful kwela artists. He and his group the Alexandra Junior Bright Boys came to prominence after a dazzling performance at a memorial concert for comedian Victor Mkize and journalist Henry Nxumalo whereafter they soon signed a recording contract with Gallo. As Lara Allen points out Lemmy Mabaso's "most frequently commended attribute was his showmanship and charisma, largely manifesting in the extraordinary choreography integral to his performance style" Allen continues by quoting a journalist in World describing one of his performances: "Lemmy was in terrific form. He played his instrument with one hand while he pirouetted like a ballerina.’" [Peter] "Macontela elaborates: he holds the penny whistle ‘with one finger and jives around. He lies on his back, he kicks, and these [other penny whistlers] keep on backing him. That’s how Lemmy became popular in town.’” (Allen p. 43)

Interestingly Bloke Modisane in his Drum reviews of Mabaso was not as enthusiastic, at least at first. In an August 1958 review of the 78 rpm Mix Masala and Magwinya (GB 2752) he laments: “Lemmy Special is a fabulous little trouper, but he’s primarily a visual artist. For that reason he doesn’t come off on record. It lacks that extra something, that snap of a live performance. It’s a pity there are some lovely moments on this wax. But even without that all-essential dimension, his personality generates.” (Drum, August 1958) Whereas Nathaniel Nakasa in an April 1958 article raves: "If the man in the street had his way, Lemmie Mabaso, of Alexandra Township, would be declared the greatest flute player we've got. This lad, who says he's 12, is a showman with dazzling personality. When he blows his silver rod with his Alexandra Junior Bright Boys men and women go wild." (Nathaniel Nakasa, "Penny Whistle is Big Time Now", Drum, April 1958)

22) ALEXANDRA SHAMBER BOYS - Holom Toe - 1957
(Rupert Bopape, HMV 78 rpm, POP 496, 0AS 951)

A May 1957 Polliacks advertisement in Drum lists the original HMV version of Holom Toe as JP 2071 backed by Lil' American.  The group that also went by the name Black Mambazo is most famously known as Elias and his Zig Zag Jive Flutes. This UK 78 rpm was issued in the wake of their meteoric success with Tom Hark in 1958.

23) SOLVEN WHISTLERS - Golden City Kwela - c1957
(T. Mokonta, Gallotone LP "Something New in Africa", GALP 1015, ABC 16725)

24) HARRY MAKHAYA and FRANS PILANE - Nut Brown Girl - c1957
(Arlequin EP "Penny Whistle Kwela", 1009)

Spokes Mashiyane in front of Trutone House, Drum, April 1958. Photo: Peter Magubane.

25) SPOKES MASHIYANE and his RHYTHM - Umpinda - c1958
(Spokes Mashiyane, Quality 78 rpm, TJ 172, T 6930)

26) SPOKES MASHIYANE and FRANS PILANE - Boys of Joburg - c1957
(Spokes Mashiyane, Arlequin EP "Penny Whistle Kwela", 1009)

27) SPOKES MASHIYANE - Bennie's 2nd Avenue Twist - c1958
(Spokes Mashiyane, Quality LP "Sweet Sax, Sweet Flute", LTJ 201)

Volume 3 (1957-1958)
(Flat International / Electric Jive, FXEJ 17)