I was never fully convinced when drummer Marama Philip Mkhize told us he had recorded an album in the 1970s. This was Pietermaritzburg in the 1980s and Philip was gigging with an otherwise white student afro-punk garage band going by the name of “The Four Horsemen and the Apocalypse”.
It was not that Philip was not ‘that good’, he was clearly a talented man. It is just that there was no evidence of the LP to back up his claim, and anyway, why would a ‘recording star’ want to be playing with a garage band whose lyrics advocated, amongst other sedition, effervescent enemas being shoved up Queen Victoria’s granite arse?
|Practising at "Toad Hall" 1984: Matt Temple getting |
a few pointers from Marama Philip Mkhize. (Pic Coral Carte).
Band members Matt and Peter Stewart did believe Philip's stories.
Matt: “In 1984 I met Philip Mkhize who explained that he was a drummer and had been a circus performer under the name Kid Marama. Since 1982 Peter Stewart, Gillian Watkins and myself had created ‘The Four Horsemen and the Apocalypse’. A number of other people played with this nucleus but at the time I met Philip we were in desperate need of a drummer and so the timing was perfect.
|Peter Stewart: Four Horsemen lyricist, guitar and frontman|
|Philip with the "Horsemen" in 1984|
"The last time I saw Philip he was in a terrible state with a large "healed" head injury. Maybe early 1990s in Pietermaritzburg, uptown near Dhoda's, after I'd been away for a while.
|Peter's pic of Philip in 1989|
The album being shared here today is an eclectic mix of soul, rock, with a hint of some bump-jive from that period. None of the composers are given credit - but I do believe that Philip had a hand in there too.
The LP’s liner notes record the following:
“I can remember the time I first heard the group MAGIC EMBER. My car had broken down and I was walking to the nearest garage, which was some distance away. On my way I passed a house where a group was rehearsing and the music was of such a high standard that I decided to enquire who they were. On entering the house I met Titus Masikane, the group’s manager. He introduced me to the members of the group who were present – Mr Sipho Yeni, the leader, founder and organist of the group; Mr Aubrey Thabete, the well known vocalist/pianist, and Mr Johnny Brown, lead guitar. The other members of the group are Mr Bheki Magubane (second vocal), Mr Madoda Mhlongo (bass guitar), Marama Philip Mkhize (drums).
“The group originate from Pietermaritzburg and used to play mainly in the Durban area. They are now in Johannesburg to seek fame and fortune. This is, however, their very first recording and I know that you will be just as excited by their unique blend of rock and soul as I was when I first heard them practising earlier this year.”
Thomas Mdakane – Producer