Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Miriam Makeba in Tokyo (1968)

Electric Jive is proud to present a unique, Japan only, release by South African icon Miriam Makeba. This is one of the rarest of the Makeba albums, coming up (as far as I know) only twice on eBay in the last six years. Recorded in Tokyo on August 28th 1968 this live album comes in the wake of her classic Pata Pata disc, which also marked the height of her US career. The album is Makeba’s second live release after In Concert! was recorded and issued the previous year in 1967. An earlier live recording of Makeba at Bern’s Salonger in Stockholm was made in 1966 and broadcast on Swedish Television in 1967 but was not issued until 2003. The DVD of the Swedish concert is simply stunning and I highly recommend it!

Makeba’s Japan tour came at a turbulent time for the singer and anti-apartheid activist. Four months earlier, in April of 1968, she had married Stokely Carmichael, the charismatic civil rights leader and president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The marriage came with much media scrutiny including a full color spread in Ebony magazine. The FBI considered Carmichael to be a dangerous radical and extended its investigations to include Makeba. Soon recording contracts were dropped and performances cancelled and by early 1969 the couple had left the US for Guinea. After her 1970 album Keep Me in Mind Makeba had no major-label releases in the US until the 1988 Sangoma.

In Tokyo offers many gems, most notably the first live recordings of Pata Pata and Malayisha. A Manhattan Brothers classic, Malayisha, had been issued as a single by Makeba but was not included on any of her albums at that time. The studio version eventually found a place on the CD re-issue of Pata Pata. For me a notable track on the album is Makeba’s version of Jeremy Taylor’s A Piece of Ground taken from the musical Wait a Minim. Makeba first recorded this song on her album The Magnificent Miriam Makeba in 1966 and an alternative version is featured on the classic Pata Pata album as well as In Concert! The song sung live also gave Makeba the opportunity to subtly bring up race relations in South Africa and it is interesting to compare her almost identical intros to the song on both live albums.

The lineup on the Tokyo album includes Sivuca (on accordion and guitar), Leopoldo Fleming (on percussion)—both featured regularly on the majority of Makeba’s Reprise releases—and Jimmy Phillips on bass.

A comprehensive discography for Makeba is currently in process… so watch this spot! For more information on Makeba I recommend Ake Holm’s dedicated site! Holm is also responsible for bringing the live Swedish recording to light.

Interesting detail... notice the dresses Makeba and her backing vocalist are wearing? The same dress is also featured as a wall hanging in the cover image of Letta Mbulu's second album Free Soul which was similarly released in 1968.

Miriam Makeba in Tokyo
Reprise, Japan
SJET 8082 
(white label promo)

A1) Jikele Maweni 
A2) Mas Que Nada
A3) Click Song No.1 (Qoqotwane)
A4) Ask the Rising Sun
A5) Ibablazie
A6) Ring Bell, Ring Bell
A7) Malayisha
B1) Umqokoza
B2) Hambe Haye
B3) A Piece of Ground
B4) Reza
B5) Into Yam
B6) Pata Pata
B7) Amampondo 


  1. WOOOWWWWW !!!!!!!!!! Thats a big surprise!!! Thanks a lot!! Can't wait to hear this record for the first time in my Life.

  2. First the rare Letta album and now this. Wow indeed!

    Heartfelt thanks from a lover of Miriam's music.

  3. P.S.: and thanks for all the scans. I love the photo on which she lends on the congas. She looks so sweet!

  4. Whew!! Nice post!! THANK YOU!!!

  5. A day to remember, wonderful find! Infinite thanks!(somebody should tell the Jazzman, he was longing for this, I don't have his address).

  6. Wonderful, just wonderful. Thank you so much :)

  7. Thanks a lot for sharing! Looks very interesting...

  8. delightful! has sent me down the route of exploring some of her other early recordings yielding some songs I had not heard before and inevitablely other versions of some that are almost over familiar (no disrespect intended!!) For people who want a more concentraited overview of her recordings can I suggest the two cd Essential Recordings available here musictraveler: Miriam Makeba - Her Essential Recordings: The Empress of African Song (@256)

    Never thought I would see the day for this Album to complete my collection.
    Words are superfluous at this moment...
    An emotional thank you!

  10. Great album!!! Thank you for sharing this!

  11. Thank you for generous kindness. I am looking forward to slowly enjoying this wonderful music.



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