Friday, 25 February 2011

Can You Feel It?



So often mentioned as South Africa's greatest soul jazz band The Drive have never had a proper re-issue or taken their proper place in the ongoing unfolding and retelling of South Africa's musical past and future. Maybe our efforts here at Electric Jive can tip the balance in favour of The Drive. Certainly we can feel it!

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 band was started by Henry Sithole and Bunny Luthuli in 1971. As Matt over at Matsuli put it a few years back "The Drive represented an articulate black urban vision of a future at odds with Apartheid's engineers." Over the course of their six years of existence they travelled the length and breadth of Southern Africa playing festivals and what venues were still available. Their recorded output is to the best of our knowledge a total of eight LPs. There was a poorly remastered attempt at a reissue on a budget around ten years ago but it sunk into the budget racks.

Discography* (Updated July 2011)
- Slow Drive to Soweto (c1971, AYL 1009)
- The Sky's The Limit (1975, RCL 1201)
- Can You Feel It (1975, RCL 1202)
- Drive Live (1975, RCL 1203)
- Coming To The End of This (1976, RCL 1208)
- Zone 6 (1976, RCL 1215)
- A Tribute to Henry Sithole and Bunny Luthuli (1977, RCL 1216, recorded just two weeks prior to Henry and Bunny's fatal traffic accident)
- Lets Cool it (1980, BL271)

The Drive are probably best known for their track Way Back Fifties which appears unabridged on the LP we are sharing today. Enjoy the ride!

The Drive - Can You Feel It (1975, RCL 1202)
Way Back Fifties
Together
Can You Feel It
Produced by David Thekwane
MF / RS

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Shoe Laces - Isitha Somuntu (1981)


















In this post we’ll be taking a look at some cool, chilled mbaqanga from the early 1980s. Today’s share is Isitha Somuntu by the shortlived group The Shoe Laces, produced by the legendary West Nkosi and released on the Black Hi-Lights label in 1981.

Think of the last great mbaqanga bands to come out of South Africa… Abafana Baseqhudeni, the Soul Brothers, and Amaswazi Emvelo. This record is very much in that vicinity – which doesn’t come as much of a revelation considering West Nkosi had a hand in some of Abafana’s early (mid-1970s) recordings, and was in fact the utter brains behind Amaswazi Emvelo itself.

The liner notes paint a very vivid picture of the formation of The Shoe Laces: "The Shoe Laces were born and grew up together in the small village in Natal called Sweet Waters. They all attended school together. At school there was one older boy by the name of Hlongwane, he was playing piano, he is the guy who brought these young boys together and formed a musical group out of them. He taught them how to sing, that was in 1961."

This is, however, mostly exaggerated! The Shoe Laces were yet another studio creation out of the deep pool of musicians at Mavuthela in 1979, at a time when mbaqanga music was in danger of ebbing away completely following events happening in the political (and musical) landscapes of South Africa.

The Shoe Laces were mostly comprised of Amaswazi Emvelo personnel and naturally share much a similar sound. In this, the Laces’ third album, the music is just as tasty as anything you’ve heard from Amaswazi. The cool guitar glides across a backdrop of florid organ, deep bass and soulful drums, all topped off with shimmering male vocals.

THE SHOE LACES:
Big Boy Thusi (vocals)
Elliot Mncube (vocals)
Joseph Thusi (lead guitar)
James Zondi (bass guitar)
Mandla Mtalana (organ)
Alpheus Harari Mnyandu (drums)

Enjoy!

ISITHA SOMUNTU
(The Shoe Laces)
Black Hi-Lights BL 290
1981

1. UMENDO UNZIMA
2. ZANDILE
3. ISITHA SOMUNTU
4. UVUKA EKUSENI
5. IZOLO LOKU
6. UDAKWA NJALO
7. KUDALA SIHAMBA
8. KHULUMA NENTOMBI YAKHO
9. HLONIPHA ABAZALI
10. SIZA UBUYELE EKHAYA
11. AWUNAMAGAMA
12. DLOMO

RapidShare: here
MediaFire: here

Monday, 14 February 2011

Kwela (c1958)


This fantastic compilation of South African kwela tracks (pressed in Argentina on the RCA Vik label) was probably issued around 1958. Half the album’s tracks feature the Alexandra Dead End Kids who also performed with American clarinetist Tony Scott when he toured South Africa in August 1957. On that occasion the Dead End Kids included Shakes Molepo, Benjamin Masindi, Joseph Mahlatsi and Sophonia Namini. View the Tony Scott in South Africa LP at flatinternational.

The Kwela album also includes some really early flute work by a young Barney Rachabane, a giant of South African jazz. Within a few years of these recordings, Rachabane would be performing with Chris McGregor’s Castle Lager Big Band in 1963 and the Early Mabuza Quartet at the 1964 Castle Lager Jazz Festival. View his album Special Ma-Ma (1975) posted by Dabulamanzi and Sweet Matara (1976) posted by Fortherecord. A partial discography for Barney Rachabane can be viewed at flatinternational.

It is difficult to date the recordings on the Kwela LP, but I am guessing that they were made around the same period as the Tony Scott recordings in 1957. I have tried to translate the group names from the Spanish on the labels, however if you know them to be different please let us know. Also please feel free to send us a translation of the Spanish liner notes.

KWELA (c1958)
VIK, RCA Victor, Argentina
LZ 1026

1. LESLIE NKOSI AND THE ALEXANDRA DEAD END KIDS - Baleka
2. CALVIN MOHALE AND THE SHARP SHOOT BOYS - Magic Blues
3. THE ALEXANDRA DEAD END KIDS – Mavava
4. LESLIE NKOSI - Baza-Baza
5. THE ALEXANDRA DEAD END KIDS - Well! A Kwela
6. BARNEY RACHABANE AND THE ALEXANDRA JUNIOR STARS - Little Man Special
7. CALVIN MOHALE AND THE SHARP SHOOT BOYS - Calvin Special
8. LESLIE NKOSI AND THE ALEXANDRA DEAD END KIDS - Leslie's Rock
9. THE ALEXANDRA DEAD END KIDS - Tom Cat
10. THE ALEXANDRA DEAD END KIDS - Five O'clock Kwela
11. BUSH FLUTE BOYS - Sugar Special
12. BARNEY RACHABANE AND THE ALEXANDRA JUNIOR STARS - Piccannini

RS

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Soul Bandit: Almon Memela’s Stragglers (1969)


As promised, here is the entire 1969 album from South African guitarist and trendsetter, Almon Sandisa Memela. Born in Donnybrook in 1936 Memela was a musician’s musician playing, arranging and composing a diversity of great music from the 1950s through to the 1980s. Amongst many others, he played guitar for Miriam Makeba and the Skylarks in the 1950s and composed the hit song ‘Banoyi’ sung by Letta Mbulu on her 1967 album Free Soul. He went on to become a producer and talent scout in the 1970s.

Almon Memela, Lemmy Special, Jeremy Taylor jamming
at Suzie's Shebeen in the early 1960s
from Jim Bailey's African Photo Archive
A bonus download is included of Almon Memela’s Jazz 8 tracks from 1972 and again in 1977 when he played the Swaziland Linkundla Festival – both of which are jazzier mbaqanga-influenced offerings than today’s main course of African sixtie's soul. His 1979 recording “Funky Africa” is much sought after by collectors.

Soul Bandits is one of those albums that, when played out of context, has confused lovers of 60s northern soul. For example – Canadian blogger Shindiggit gives a pretty snappy description of a Soul Bandit seven-single he dug-up at a record fair in Ontario a few years ago:

"Sometimes you get one of those records which just grabs you by the face and smacks you back into your chair. The A-side of this track (Soul Bandit) is like that for me. Imagine Soul Finger by the Bar-Kays thrown into a blender with Champ by the Mohawks.....Soul Bandit is THAT bastard child. This horns & organ infused floorsmasher is basically one of the funnest singles I own. The B-Side is a little slower, going for a bluesier vibe, however is still horns & organ drenched and pretty damned classic in it's own right.

The odd thing about this single is that I can find nothing...let me repeat...NOTHING, not even a passing mention as to whom this band was or any info on this single. I'm no soul detective, but I figure it's a studio band like the Mohawks. The label smacks of Britishness and oddly the catalogue number is L.1. Maybe this was a one off single? Any way it goes, I would LOVE to hear if anyone has any info on this band AND the single itself...Little Giant has been a record label in many guises over the years but I think this is a private label and not directly connected to any of the others I've seen.”



Do give this album a listen, it grows on you! If you prefer the more African-jazz oriented stuff, you can hear excerpts of some 78s of Almon Memela from Chris Ballantine’s collection here.

Soul Bandit: A.M. Stragglers
Mediafire here
Rapidshare here



Almon Memela's Jazz 8
Rapidshare here
Mediafire here

Friday, 4 February 2011

Hokoyo! (Watch Out!) - Harare Hits Rewound


Due to overwhelming reader demand the Harare Hits compilations are back. Like mbaqanga the electric urban sounds of Zimbabwe between the late seventies and mid-eighties hold a special place in many people's hearts. As I've stated before these were different times with a sense of optimism midst daily struggles and a nation still drunk with liberty. It's blistering dancefloor pop in any language that still speaks today. Enjoy this time capsule from the past that keeps us from forgetting what can be possible. These were compiled by Matsuli reader Muvimi who spent time teaching in Zimbabwe in the early part of the 80s.

Harare Hit Parade 1: 1980-81
01. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits- Africa
02. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Cheka Hukama
03. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Madzongo Nyedze
04. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Seiko
05. Elijah Madzikatire and Ocean City Band – Very Sorry
06. Elijah Madzikatire and Ocean City Band – Gukura Hundi
07. Devera Ngwena Jazz Band – Zhimozhzhi
08. Devera Ngwena Jazz Band – Barba Mwana Wakanaka
09. Devera Ngwena Jazz Band – Ruva Remoyo Wangu
10. Job Mashanda and the Muddy face – Zuva Rakabuda
11. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Shanje
12. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Reura
13. Zexie Manatsa and the Green Arrows – Chivaraidze
14. Zexie Manatsa and the Green Arrows – Tambayi Makachenjera
RS/MF


Harare Hit Parade 2: 1981-84
01. Lovemore Majaivana and Jobs Combination – Okwabanye
02. Lovemore Majaivana and Jobs Combination – Isitmela
03. Lovemore Majaivana and Jobs Combination – Amanda
04. Africa Melody – Africa Yakanaka
05. Africa Melody – Emma Rega Kuchema
06. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Kumhunga
07. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Tinomuchema
08. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Yeukai
09. Marxist Brothers – Mwana We Dangwe
10. Safirio Madzikatire and Sea Cottage Sisters – Katarina
11. Zexie Manatsa and the Green Arrows – Tiyi Hobvu
12. Pied Pipers – Amayo
13. Patrick Mkwamba and the Four Brothers – Vakakunda Zviedzo
14. Patrick Mkwamba and the Four Brothers – Wapenga Nayo Bonus
15. Sungura Boys - Mandi
RF/MF


Harare Hit Parade 3: 1985-86
01. Jobs Combination – Imali
02. Jobs Combination – Mary
03. Jobs Combination – Ekhaya
04. Jobs Combination – Isimanga Sendoda
05. Jobs Combination – Usathane Simehlule
06. Fallen Heroes – Uthando Lwemali
07. Robson Banda and the New Black Eagles – Huya Tshande
08. Kassongo Band – Panyadzonya
09. Marxist Brothers – Sekuyo Ndipeiwo Zano
10. Marxist Brothers – Mari
11. Marxist Brothers – Kunjere Kunjere
12. Oliver Mtukudzi a and the Black Spirits – Chenjera
13. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Mhaka
14. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Munamato Yedu
RF/MF


Harare Hit Parade 4: 1985-1987
01. Robson Banda and the New Black Eagles - Maria
02. Robson Banda and the New Black Eagles -Emmah
03. Jairos Jiri Band - Chando Chinouraya
04. Jairos Jiri Band - Mai Murambatsvina
05. Jairos Jiri Band - Ndezvedu
06. Jairos Jiri Band - Sarah
07. Jairos Jiri Band - Zvemumba Medu
08. Oliver Mtukudzi - Gona
09. Oliver Mtukudzi - Jeri
10. Ilanga - Somandhla
RS/MF