The deck I used, a Panasonic RS-808, was acquired on eBay and carefully refurbished by daveandjudi. The player arrived in excellent condition and I highly recommend their services if you wish to explore this esoteric archival avenue.
Of course, 8-Tracks are famously tricky and this cartridge was no exception. It broke on first insertion and I had to engage in some quick schooling via YouTube to repair it. Another cartridge, seemingly showcasing some amazing 1970s maskanda, alas and perhaps ironically, was mislabeled and featured some straight Afrikaner concertina selections.
My first impression of the format was one of apprehension probably due to the obvious irregularities of the medium. But after a second listening, the nostalgic warmth of the tape hiss combined with the ever present wow and flutter asserted an analogue uniqueness that won me over. In the spirit of collage, even hearing some of the other programmes faintly in the distance of the dead spaces between tracks, seemed enchanting.
There is definitely something different in listening to music in this format. The sound has a blockiness—a low bassiness—which separates it from the precision of vinyl. The tape establishes a blunt soundscape that reinforces its vintage quality, but one that is strangely devoid of the familiar pops and clicks heard in the vinyl experience. Certainly this medium is lo-fi, funky and cool!
Today’s feature On Tour by the Teenage Lovers is simply a classic! One that is in urgent need of a reissue. Furthermore, I am simply amazed that this group has never been featured here at Electric Jive.
The Teenage Lovers were contemporaries of The Movers and the group included the highly influential keyboardist Rex Rabanye—an icon of the 1970s who rivaled the great Sankie Chounyane—and guitarist Lawrence Goreoang.
The group hailed from Ikageng a township near Potchefstroom south west of Johannesburg in the North West Province of today and formerly the Transvaal at the time of recording. The TX prefix on the number plate of the car on the cover confirms the Potchefstroom connection.
According to Max Mojapelo their first hit, Botany 500, was issued in 1974 (the track is also featured on this cartridge) but must have come out around 1971 as their second album bearing the same name (RPM 7008) should have preceded RPM’s compilation Greatest Soul Hits - Volume 2 (RPM 7012) which was issued in 1972. Their debut album Meet the Teenage Lovers (RPM 7005) was probably issued around 1970 on the RPM label, a subsidiary of Gallo.
On Tour could be a compilation of hits c1974, as it does include their best-seller Botany 500 plus a few other tracks featured elsewhere. Though it is hard to tell given that 8-Track cartridges often included additional material to fill in the “programme gaps” so to speak. This album features 16 tracks, two of which are duplicates and one that remains uncredited on the label. To confirm some of the dates, Dikeledi was also issued on 45 rpm (RPM 979) in 1973 (Thanks Chris!)
Instrumental soul-funk-jazz landscapes are established in the opening track of programme 1, Sekhukhuni, where the brooding keyboard is peppered with saxophone. It only gets better from there! My only regret is that these tracks predate the long form conventions of bump jive and sadly just fade way too soon!
Kuyalalwa is simply amazing! An iconic dance classic that reminds me of Manu Dibango’s monumental Soul Makossa... that is, slowed down to a funkier 16 rpms. This track is ideal material for another Next Stop Soweto compilation if Duncan Brooker and Francis Gooding are willing!?
Sebatala is also one of my favorites and significantly it is the track that is repeated twice within the programme selections. Strangely, I feel as if this tune is channeling Edi Niederlander’s future hit, Ancient Dust of Africa. Am I going mad?
Papa Was a Rolling Stone and Meyer-Underground round off the must-hears. Notably most of the best tunes on this album are absent from the Teenage Lovers “Best of” compilations available at iTunes.
The cover shows the group in a red 1965 Plymouth Valiant made by Chrysler, a typical muscle car of the 1960s—one that would also host an 8-Track player and introduce consumers to the freedom of taking music on the road. Notice that the car is an American import as the steering wheel is on the left-hand side. The group-in-car image was a common convention of other RPM covers around the same time. Notably on the compilation A Night at Franco Italian Restaurant (RPM 1026) and the New City Heralds (RPM 7007). The car and 8-Track suggest mobilty, coolness and freedom.
Both Rex Rabanye and Lawrence Goreoang moved on to solo careers in the 1980s. Rabanye sadly began to loose his hearing towards the end of his career but was honored with a SAMA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 before passing away in 2010.
Earphones are recommended or just play loud!
Meet the Teenage Lovers
RPM, RPM 7005
RPM, RPM 7008
RPM, RPM 7010
RPM Greatest Soul Hits - Volume 2
RPM, RPM 7012
RPM Greatest Soul Hits - Volume 3
RPM, RPM 7014
RPM, RPM 7019
Rafifi and Other Stories
RPM, RPM 7030
dated 1988 but must be a reissue from c1977 given other RPM issues
Dance with the Teenage Lovers
RPM, RPM 7051
1982 compilation but could be c1981
issued 1991 on CD
Best of the Teenage Lovers - Volume 2
Gallo, CDZAC 70