"Africa's Greatest Vocal Group": goes the front cover marketing hyperbole from 1974. Amagugu were certainly vocally very strong though - sultry, velvet harmonies. Add legendary lead guitarist and arranger Hansford Mthembu to the girl group and groaner mix, and you have a very strong mbaqanga album.
I turned to Electric Jive's walking mbaqanga encyclopedia, Nick Lotay, to see if he could tell me more than the little that is available on the record and cover. This is what he had to say:
"The regular members of Amagugu during this time included Sannah Mnguni (lead vocals), her sister Francina 'Thopi' Mnguni, Thoko Khumalo, Liliah Vilakazi and Thandi Kheswa (who was a Mahotella Queens member from around 1969 to 1974). The lady photographed on the front cover isn't Sannah - it looks like it could be Thandi Kheswa, but I'm not sure. The male groaner is Harry Nhlapo who later joined Abafana Baseqhudeni at Mavuthela, and at one point sang with the Queens.
"The lead guitarist on this LP is Thopi's husband Hansford Mthembu, one of the legendary mbaqanga players of all time and one of the crafters of Amagugu's sound. Kali Monare is the drummer. Titus Masikane, credited with writing two of these songs, was the group's producer and manager.
"I don't know who or what the "Umqangabodwe" credited as having written four songs was, but producers of the time would habitually invent random names to replace the name of the real composer, possibly to collect the ensuing royalty fee for themselves."
1. Ubhek'uZulu - (H. Nhllapho)
2. Imvula (Umqnagabhodwe)
3. Ulwandle (Umqnagabhodwe)
4. Inyoni Emhlophe (Umqnagabhodwe)
5. Instsholontsholo (Umqnagabhodwe)
6. Chuchu Makgala (Thandi Kheswa)
7. Mesong (K. Monare)
8. Samelu (Sannah Mnguni)
9. Emakhabaleni (T. Masikane)
10. Mngane Wami (T. Masikane)
11. King of My Heart (H. Mthembu)
12. Salani Kahle (H. Methembu)
Producer: Titus Masikane
Skyline Jazz: SK80162