Friday 4 May 2018

Rest in Peace Ndikho Xaba

June 18, 2019
Durban, South Africa
Legendary South African Musician Ndikho Xaba has made his transition at age 85. 
After a long battle with Parkinson’s disease South African keyboardist/composer and percussionist, Ndikho Xaba passed away peacefully at his home in Durban, South Africa surrounded by family and friends on June 11, 2019.
With a professional career that spanned more than 6 decades this versatile artist and inventor deeply believed that music was in everything and could be played by anyone. As a result, he frequently played on stage, water jugs, bicycle wheels, cans, bells, whistles and gongs in addition to piano, flute, hand drums and his own adaptation of South African traditional instrument Umakweyana (1 stringed bow instrument) His unique style helped to expand the parameters of performance.

His unparalleled musical prowess was used to bring full democratic rights to all citizens of South Africa. As a political activist during the dark days of apartheid in South Africa he was being threatened by the South African Special Branch of Police and warned to stop his political activities or risk arrest. As an actor, he found a way to escape the country via one of Alan Paton’s plays entitled Sponono. 

Sponono opened on Broadway in New York City in early 1964, becoming the first African play to do so. He and 10 others from the cast chose to remain in the US joining Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and others who sought political asylum. The arts community embraced them all and they were warmly welcomed by African American artists of all genres including James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis
He continued his musical career when he returned to his beloved South Africa in 1998. He was part of the big band KZN Jazz Legends; and in 2008, they were part of the film “Zulu meets Jazz” which featured himself, South African pianist Theo Bophela and Italian trumpeter Paolo Fresu He was given the Living Legends award in 2011 and the Icons of Democracy award in 2013 by the city of Durban (eThekwini) for his consistent work in the arts.

Ndikho’s music was never widely recorded but one of his songs Emavungweni (down in the dumps) was recorded by both Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba. In 1970 he organized a powerful group of musicians including the renowned Plunky Branch (saxophonist) and they recorded an album entitled “Ndikho and the Natives”, which was recently released by Matsuli Records. It has long been called the “holy grail” by music aficionados’. He self-produced a compilation of his work from 1970 – 2005 entitled Sunsets which is available from CD Baby. Fans in SA can leave a message on this page for info on getting copies.

His Home Going Celebration will be on Sunday June 30, 2019 at the family home in Durban, South Africa. Visitation from 7-9am. Memorial Service 9 -11am. Dress preference is white or African formal.

Thursday 14 December 2017

Ngixolele: Forgive me

Amongst year-end reflections of gratitude and disappointment the question of forgiveness keeps coming back to me.  Those who seek it, those who give it, and those who cannot even ask because they will not admit their wrongs. South African imaginations are currently captured by political and corporate leaders who deny their own wrong-doing. 

I hope this will change – the truth will be found, and hope can be restored. Asking for forgiveness can be a happy and fulfilling experience. If it does not land you in prison – it can really make you dance!

Everyone of the seven tracks in this mix are asking for forgiveness (Ngixolele, or Ngiyaxolele) – from heartfelt 70s soul, via an unstoppable disco groove that will capture you, to labd amongst some irresistible mbaqanga to bribe you with involuntary movement. And, to round it off are the Mahotella Queens beautifully singing the traditional church hymn “Baba Ngixolele”. (Father forgive me).

I wish you happy holidays.

1. Ngixolele: The Movers (1978).
2. Ngixolele: The Hotella Stars (1978).
3. Ngixolele: Imitshotshovu (date uncertain – re-released on Earthworks Indestructible Beat of Soweto Vol. 5)          
4. Ngixolele Baba: Izintombe Zesi Manje Manje (1978).
5. Ngixolele Mngani: Izintombe Zesi Manje Manje (1978).
5. Ngixolelene: The Soul Brothers. (1978).
6. Ta Ta Ngixolele : The Mofolo Queens. 78rpm RCA 173
7. Baba Ngixolele: Mahotella Queens (1966) Church Hymn.

Download mp3 here

Wednesday 29 November 2017

Heart Transplant

Its fifty years since Dr Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first human heart transplant on 3 December 1967 in Cape Town. And yes, there were some interesting songs celebrating these extraordinary events and circumstances.

Like landing on the moon, the sheer sixties audacity  of a human heart transplant seized imaginations around the world.  Besides the science, people were also talking of the existential implications of first transplanting a woman’s heart into a man, and then, transplanting the heart of a “coloured” man into a “white man" - in South Africa!.

For the first transplant, Barnard realised that, given the numbers, there was a greater chance of a black donor heart becoming available – but he did not feel he could ask the apartheid-controlled authorities permission to transplant a black heart into the awaiting 55-year-old 'white' Louis Washkansky. As it turned out Washkansky received the heart of a 25-year-old white bank clerk, Denise Darval. He survived for 18 days and died of pneumonia.

It was the second heart transplant early in 1968 that crossed the line, so to speak. The world was really talking about the implications of Dr Barnard transplanting the heart of 24-year-old “coloured” Clive Haupt into 58-year-old “white” Dr Philip Blaaiberg. Here was a powerful metaphor that exposed the irony and injustice of apartheid for all to see and discuss. BJ Vorster had just succeeded Verwoerd as South Africa's Prime Minister, and separation of the races through forced removals and the homeland project had stepped up a further gear.

The March 1968 edition of Ebony Magazine in the USA had the following to say: “Clive Haupt’s heart will ride in the uncrowded train coaches marked “For Whites Only” instead of the crowded ones reserved for blacks. … It will enter fine restaurants, attend theatres and concerts and live in a decent home instead of in the tough slums where Haupt grew up. Haupt’s heart will literally go into hundreds of places where Haupt himself could not go because his skin was a little darker than that of Blaaiberg.

The interesting article concludes: “Unfortunately, Dr Barnard’s marvelous heart transplants may well turn out to be just another proof that science has far outstripped sociology. We can’t hold science back. Now it is time that humanity caught up with it.

At the turn of the 21st Century 30 to 40 heart transplants were carried out every year in South Africa. An interview with the heart surgeon Dr Willie Koen, who headed the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital's heart transplant unit in 2009 said the transplant numbers had since dropped to only about 15 to 20 a year – due to costs and  a lack of donors.

However you may feel about heart transplants and how healthcare budgets are allocated and spent – there were two 1968 musical tributes (that I know of) to Dr Barnard’s achievements – from South Africa and Venezuela!

Cambridge Matiwane was a prolific producer, and here (after the Blaaiberg transplant) he teams up with Portia (last name unkown) to pen a soul-inspired tribute entitled “Heart Transplant”. The picture front cover of this 45rpm single (above) has the following to say:

Ster Records are proud to sponsor this tribute by Cambridge Matiwane – being the first public tribute on behalf of African people to Professor C. Barnard for his outstanding feat in medical surgery (acknowledged throughout the world  - except possibly by the African people of his native South Africa) and further to pay tribute to Dr P. Blaaiberg for his amazing courage and will to live - to the point of sustaining, together with his family, anxiety, anguish and pain, both mental and physical almost - if not completely - beyond human endurance."

Across in Venezuela, psychedelic rock band “Los Six” were similairly inspired and produced “Dr Barnard”.

Have a listen – and, if you know of any other efforts from that time, please let us know.

The tracks are stored on Souncloud and can be downloaded from there. Click on the links below.

Wednesday 4 October 2017

The Minerals - Sweet Soweto (1976)

A very lucky off-chance find whilst digging in a London shop. Originally priced at R5.99 with a Kohinor Kort Street price sticker! In a few comments on other posts a number of people have requested this LP and so here it is.

The Minerals are: Thelma Segona (organ/piano/vocals), Ronnie Makhondo (percussion/vocals), Nick Kunene (lead guitar/vocals), Jonas Mkhabela (bass), Joseph Tshabalala (drummer), Isaac Moraba (vocalist), and Jimmy Mojapelo (composer and leader).

A wonderful mix of soul, philly-styled funk on the 13 minute title tune and breezy Soweto pop. (OK, cheesy pop and a few great moments!)


Tuesday 26 September 2017

The Drive - Live (1975, RCL 1203)

You thought we had gone! But we're back, briefly for the first posting of 2017! By special request from a number of people, specifically for the track Africa Bossa, here is South African soul jazz funk band from the early seventies - The Drive. Whilst this is titled Drive Live it is in fact a studio recording with overdubbed crowd sounds. 

We have posted a number of other Drive LPs at electricjive before. You can check them out here.

Of interest to many will be the appearance of Bheki Mseleku on keys.


Tuesday 29 November 2016

Usathane Usifikile!: EJ Durban Office Party 2016

Oh believers gather around and start praying, for the devil has arrived!” Joseph Kumalo is not alone in blaming the devil for ‘changes’ he is not happy with. For Kumalo, South African cities in the early 1960s were dens of iniquity corrupting the traditions and values of rural folk. Drinking, smoking marijuana, gambling, fighting were the work of the devil.

We have all encountered a few “devils” of our own this year, and I thought it a good time to dig through my ‘new finds’ for a year-end Office Party shake-out. Welcome to a bumper edition of the Electric Jive 2016 Durban Office Party. Sadly, unexpected changes to my work-travel commitments prevent me from actually spinning these discs, as planned, at the Electric Jive Office Party at Khaya Records on Friday 9th December. A party of one sort or another is still happening though. "Familiar Favourite" (Mxolisi Makubho) and Hotdog Fingarz of Fly Machine Sessions are keeping their part of the bargain and will be coming through from Johannesburg with some great tunes on vinyl. Make a note: Khaya Records, Durban – Friday evening 9th December. I will leave a gift for the first thirty or so people who make it through the door. Thanks to Vusi of The Fly Machine Sessions for the graphic at the top of this post!

So, herewith two hours of what I would have played, if I could have. First up is a one-hour trip that sets off from the countryside with guitar and vocal commentary from the late 1950s, early 60s, building up via violin jive through Zulu blues, to early rock and roll. Victor Ndlazilwana (later of Jazz Ministers fame) is credited with writing and playing on “Please do it oh Baby”, a song that would not have been out of place on an Elvis album from that time.

The merriment builds, morphing from rock-influenced marabi jive through to big-band ska from the likes of Orlando Jazz Combo. Have a listen to Chris McGregor and the Blue Notes playing Dudu Pukwana’s “Ndiyeke Mra” and check out the strong ska influence! Likewise, Africa’s Hot Ten (including Kippie Moeketsi and other jazz luminaries) showcase the deep well of great talent and technical dedication from the time.

The mix changes direction, revisiting some great brass-driven marabi jive tracks from the likes of “The New Havana Orchestra, The Shakers, and the The Kwa Mashu Swingsters”. We warm down with the sweet vocals of the “Dark City Sisters” and end as we began, artists referencing “Inhliziyo Yam” (my disposition, or mood). Whereas Job Ndlangalala starts this set with a hauntingly beautiful  guitar track telling of the circumstances that were ‘killing’ his mood, The Shakers end-off with an upbeat simple finale.

So – if you feel the need to cleanse, purge, indulge, exorcise, dance, this mix can help. The 78rpm recordings are being shared as a single mix-tape. Sorry, no separated tracks on this one.

I wish all visitors to Electric Jive happy holidays, and a much, much better 2017!

1.     The Play Singer: Hambabamfana. (Job Ndlangalala) Columbia YE208.
2.     The Play Singer: U Ngi Cebe E Poisen. (Job Ndlangalala) Columbia YE129.
3.     Joseph Khumalo: Usathani Sefikile. (Joseph Khumalo) Quality TJ.855.
4.     Nongomo Trio: Zulu Violin Special. (Nongomo Trio) Columbia YE.333.
5.     Gumede's Happy Violin: Thatha Jou (J. Gumede) Gallotone Jive GB.3212.
6.     Stanley Caluza: Sengimtholile. (Stanley Caluza) Columbia YE392.
7.     Daisy Newman: Abafana. (Daisy Newman) Winner OK.051.
8.     Cooper & The Black Be-Bop Sisters: Ebusuku Nemini (Theodora Ngcongo) Winner OK.114.
9.     Merebank Youngsters: Ngiyazisola (Merebank Youngsters) Columbia YE.85.
10.  The Bogard Brothers: Che Boogie Here. (L. Motau) His Master's Voice JP.750.
11.  Big Rock Chaka: Please Do It Oh Baby (Victor Ndlazilwana). Tropik DC.751.
12.  Almon's Jazz Kings: Uyidoda (Almon Memela) Gallo USA USA280.
13.  Orlando Jazz Combo: Imbasha (Percy Gumbi) Gallo USA USA304.
14.  Chris McGregor & His Blue Notes: Ndiyeke Mra (Dudu Phukwana) Winner OK.125.
15.  Africa's Hot Ten: Club 600 (E. Williams) Winner OK.001.
16.  Christopher and his Home Swingsters: T. Time Ska (Chris Songxaka) Gallo New Sound GB3581.
17.  Sofasonke Swingsters: Umlahla (Edmund Piliso) His Master's Voice JP.857.
18.  Cooper & The Black Be-Bop Sisters: Vat en Sit (Gloria Malete) Winner OK.114.
19.  Zee Zee Jazz Appointment: Jazz Palace (Rupert Bopape) His Master's Voice JP.741.
20.  The New Havana Orchestra: City Phata (Ngubane) Troubadour AFC.605.
21.  The Shakers: Shake Shake No. 1 (Busi) Troubadour AFC.643
22.  Kwa Mashu Swingsters: Siyanda (Roland Mqwebu) RCA.250.
23.  The City Dazzlers: Ngenye Mini (The City Dazzlers) HIT.120.
24.  The Dark City Sisters: Tap Tap Ntshebe (Zeph Nkabinde, Michael Xaba, Rupert Bopape, Elijah Nkwanyane) His Master's Voice JP.700.
25.  The Shakers: Intlyizo Yam.(Busi) Troubadour AFC.643.

The second one-hour set is drawn from 45rpm, most of which found their way to my drawers this year. Seventies South African soul, funk, pop, jazz and then some mbaqanga to round it all off.

1. The V.I.P.sMaxie's Mood. (M. Kubekha, I. Twala). Love Love LVB220.
2. The Anchors: Friends In Soul. (The Anchors). CYB69. (1969).
3. The Inn Lawes: Peter and Zacks Special (Peter Morake, Zacks Kgasapane) CBS AB 326.
4. S. Piliso & His Super Seven: Papa Was A Rolling Stone (Whitfield and Strong) FGB625 (1973).
5. Cool Cats: Wilderness (Gilbert Matthews, G. Sabela) Soweto SWB 4 (1973).
6.  The Special Sounds:  Mngani (Rupert Bopape and Shadrach Piliso) Soul Jazz Pop SOJ 2 (1974),
7. Cool Cats:  See You Later (P. Nkosi, B. Kgasoane) Soweto SWB 4 (1973).
8. The Black Pages: There Goes (N. Makua, E. Kheswa, G. Molefi). Soul Jazz Pop SOJ 140 (1977).
9. S. Piliso & His Super Seven: Umgababa (Edmund Piliso & Themba Dlamini) FGB625 (1973).
10. Bops and Son: Chicken Soul (D. Mchunu) MJW Records MJW.107 (1976).
11. Inthuthuko Brothers: Soweto Disco (S. Jibiliza)Black Cherry BCS110 1978.
12. Shumi: Gideon, Early & McKay (Holler/Arr: Masingi) BUA8803 (1974).
13. Jazz Disciples: Tete’s Jump (Tete Mbambisa) HMV JP887 (1967).
14. Rift Valley Brothers: Mutirima Waka (Lawrence Nduku) Mercury MER11.
15. Abafana Bentuthuko: Double Line (Hansford Mthembu) AB666.
16. John Mkhabela and the Fire Wizards: Umdidyelo (J Nhlapo) GGB456 (1971).
17. The Play Boys:  Cross Road (D. Mokoka - M. Maliehe) JP1338 (1973).
18. Izintombi Zomoya: Oseke Walla (Rupert Bopape and Irene Mawela) Motella MO 522 (1974).
19. Abafana Besi Manje Manje: Bathini Nzimande (Hamilton Nzimande) HVN NZ.68 (1974).
20. Johanes Lenkoe with the Suger Suger Boys: NU 3 (Johannes Lenkoe) Six Mabone SMB 728 (1975).
21. Makhona Zonke Band: Durban Road. (
22. The Creations:  Wild Man in the City (Manu Dibango) PD 1270 (1976).

Download links:
78rpm mix-tape 
45rpm mix-tape 
45rpm separated tracks 

Sunday 20 November 2016

Slow Sunday Congo Singles Special

A sultry, slow and unhurried Sunday morning selection from the ASL drawers. Earlyish Congo Rumba, all except the last was pressed and sold in Kenya. A while back in this blog there was a great response to three posts of ASL Congo singles (here, here, and here) so, this next instalment is long overdue. This time with some focus on a deep breath (it does that for me anyway) before the year-end madness.The mixtape version is for my own comfort during some upcoming travel time I have to put in. Separated tracks are also provided.

 In my September 2012 ASL Singles post I gave an outline of South African interests, particularly the Gallo Record Company’s interests in establishing ASL.

Gallo Nairobi was established in the early 1950s. Following Kenya’s independence in 1963 visible South African ownership of the company became a problem, so Associated Sounds (East Africa) Pty Ltd (ASL) was set up as a dummy company by Gallo in the United Kingdom. ASL had their own Kenyan pressing plant.

ASL certainly released a huge amount of Congolese and East African inspired Rumba and Soukous in the 70s and 80s, with the tracks easily stretching to five minutes each on the micro-groove format.

Enjoy your Sunday morning, or late night, whenever you feel like being soothed.

1. L'Orchestre African Fiesta: Chantal Komonela Ngai (Test Pressing ASL 1870)
2. Chantal & L’Orchestre African Fiesta: Doris (ASL 7-1845)
3. Dr Nico & L’Orchestre African Fiesta: Okosuka Wapi (ASL 7-1924)
4. Sylis & L’Orchestre Baby National: Luntala (ASL 7-1012)
5. Vicky & L’Orchestre Les Hi-Fives: Sijakuacha (ASL 7-102)
6. Vicky & L'Orchestre O.K. Jazz: Dodo Tuna Motema (ASL 7-3090)
7. Vicky & L'Orchestre O.K. Jazz: Monoko Oyo Ezali Na Ngai (ASL 7-3090)
8. Youlou & L’Orchestre O.K. Jazz: Bolingo Nouveate (ASL 7– 3159)
9. Verckys & L'Orchestre Veve: Ah Ngai Matinda (ASL 7-3174)
10. Baba National (Baba Gaston): Noel Nakalemi (ASL 7-151)
11. Orch Mptete Wa Mpete: Bonne Na Noel Pts 1 & 2 (ASL 4375)
12. Orchestre Afrisa: Mbote Ya Kinvwanga Pts 1 & 2 (African 91 620)

Mixtape download link here
Separate tracks link