Thursday, 23 August 2012

Electric Jive's Top Ten

As someone fascinated by statistics I get a kick out of trying to understand trends and preferences of the readership of this blog. Regular visitors know that we share out of print, mostly South African recordings of mbaqanga, soul, jazz, jive and pop from the thirty-year period between 1950 to 1980.

After more than three years and 234 posts on Electric Jive we still sometimes ask ourselves questions for which the answers remain unclear – what is it that makes some posts much more popular than others? And then, for who, and why? While we are often quite personally random in our own choice of what to ‘archive’ in the public domain, we do notice what music is well-liked, and often are surprised at the lack of popularity of some important and rare recordings.

Much like life, visitor preferences are influenced by a complex set of variables, not always easily explainable or visible to the observer. Random external interventions can suddenly change what seemed to be established patterns. If a newspaper, magazine, or another popular blog references Electric Jive there is a sudden surge in visitors and downloads.
Today’s music share is in response to the consequences of a June 28th posting on the Kleptones blog post, Hectic City 15: Paths to Graceland. The very readable post and excellent mix references some tracks shared on Electric Jive, particularly the Greatest Accordion Jive Hits Volume III post. The post is about looking for that legendary tape which inspired Paul Simon to do the Graceland album. Consequently, the Accordion Jive Hits Vol III record that was posted on EJ June 2010, suddenly shot up out of obscurity in the popularity stakes to take number five spot in the all-time list of 234 posts, displacing Gideon Nxumalo’s Jazz Fantasia. 
The end result is that a whole lot of music lovers around the world have become turned on to South Africa accordion jive, and quite a few are asking for more. I am pretty sure we can come up with an interesting ‘boeremusiek’ concertina / accordion compilation that is not too distant from the kwela and mbaqanga stuff usually featured here. For now, I offer this 1983 instrumental recording with Pondoland roots, sounding just like it did in the early 70s. All songs composed by one Vailet Ntsewu.
As for the other interest groups that visit Electric Jive, you may be surprised to learn that by far and away the most popular page visited is the Kings’ Messengers Quartet. These guys are HUGE amongst Africans of the Christian faith, stretching across South Africa and all the way through Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi.
Number two on the EJ all time popular list is the Miriam Makeba tracks less travelled posting. At number three we have the In Exile compilation. At number four is the posting announcing Ian Bruce Huntley’s hidden jazz archive, with the Accordion Jive post coming in at number five. Gideon Nxumalo’s seminal and ground-breaking Jazz Fantasia is next with a selection of Mozambique’s music coming in at number seven. A mega posting on African jazz 78rpm’s from the 1950s, ‘Majuba Jazz’ is next, followed by the Roots of Shangaan Electro at nine. The number ten spot changes most regularly – alternating between the Disco Soul compilation, the 70s sax jive compilation, and is currently the Timmy Thomas live in Africa album.

Conclusions I can draw from the above list is that the Electric Jive team should continue with the diverse selection and spread of sounds we share, promote and archive. We are always very open and happy to receive comments, feedback and requests from you.

Umtata Boys - 4 Pairs of White Shoes (1983) GAL 107
Produced by S. Ndimande
All songs written by Vailet Ntsewu

Mediafire here
Rapidshare here


  1. Well my individual preferences will be of no use to you, good sirs, as I ravenously devour every offering.

  2. Eclectic, wide-ranging, fun, danceable, intriguing. You are just hitting those targets all the time. That's not a very easy recipe for success, I guess - but it shows you have an audience which is open to hearing new (old) records & excited by the range on offer. Thank you, & keep 'em coming!

  3. Anything I can do to draw folks to the work, really. Delighted that readers are following the links back to discover more, it can do nothing but good. :)

  4. Thanks David - we will keep em coming as long as we can

  5. All good Eric, thanks for turning your fans onto these sounds!

  6. Blessed be you for this blog! :)

  7. Still returning , still enjoying your selections! I guess like many of your regulars I dont leave comments too often any more for fear of sounding repetitious! Your blog of well researched words modererated by personal passions and the access to the music it offers is treasured!!
    For myself I enjoy the harmonies of voices whether intermingling girl group style or the sonourous lead and follow ... or occasional exceptional individuals. I love the distictively South African sounds through faith proclaiming choruses to the smokier sounds of sax and guitar (though my blunt brain struggles with the more creative jazz). The cyclical accordian stomps make me smile. I loose some of my excitement as some of the groups provide more obvious local versions of later Amercan sounds and trends but acknowledge their worth...
    I drink deeply from your fountain and thank you warmly !

  8. Thanks Eyepictures for the feedback, much appreciated

  9. heck yes I cannot thank you folks enough. accordion jive! shangaan roots! the kings' messengers! umtata boys! all completely fantastical, and makes me so glad there's an internets and wonderful people to share music. take care and good luck with everything over yonder...


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