Saturday 26 September 2009

The Peacemaker: Mike Makhalemele

As requested: Peacemaker - this is Mike Makhalemele’s first solo album which was recorded in the early 70s while he was also playing in “The Drive” with Duke Makassi and Khaya Mahlangu . Another of South Africa’s crop of exceptional saxophonists, Makhalamele’s work may yet receive the posthumous recognition it deserves – should Gallo and As-Shams (Sun) be able to conclude their talks about re-issuing the As-Shams catalogue in South Africa. We wait in hope!!

Always a step ahead, Matt over at Matsuli has licensed the first of hopefully many of the As-Shams titles for European release starting with the legendary Dick Khoza Chapita recording. We look forward.

For more background on Mike Makhalemele read Stephen Segerman’s tribute here.
Updated (2015) link here

Wednesday 23 September 2009

South Africa’s Soul Giants – 1968: I Remember Nick

A classic and rare Afro-soul Jazz gem that must be heard. This was recorded in the days when band members such as Barney Rachabane and Dennis Mpale were considered ‘youngsters’. On the record sleeve notes they recall being ‘amateurs’ when they met the great saxophonists Nick Moyake (to whom this LP is dedicated), and Kippie Moeketsi.

Mongezi Velelo (Bass) was a founding band member of the legendary Blue Notes in 1963 (first called the Castle Lager Jazz Band), but stayed on in South Africa when Chris McGregor and others left. Shakes Mgudlwa (piano) the band’s main composer, died in Swaziland in 1971.

Gwen Ansell (Soweto Blues) places this album “in the tradition of intellectually challenging bebop-styled music begun by the Jazz Epistles.” Soul Jazz of the late 60s was a powerful point of identification for black South Africans with the blossoming civil rights and black power agendas in the United States. While LPs like this one were really precious artefacts that were reverently circulated and looked after in the townships, so too were Jazz imports such as the Jazz Crusaders, Modern Jazz Quartet, Miles Davis, Jimmy McGriff – just to list a few recently dug up in Mamelodi, Pretoria – but perhaps more about that in another post.

Producer Ray Nkwe is absolutely right when saying that those who hear this album will want more. He assures the fans that this first record was just the beginning of the Soul Giants and that there were “more groovy things to come”. It seems – please someone tell us we are wrong – that this was the only issue from the Soul Giants.
Mediafire here

Friday 18 September 2009

Friday Treats

"What kind of music is popular with the urban African? ICE CREAM & SUCKERS, a new album of South African soul, gives you a good cross-section of current sound in Africa. The roots of this music go as far back as the traditional Bantu music played in the homelands far away from the influence of city life. These basic melody lines, with their repretitive themes, have been retained in much current music, and will appeal to listeners interested in Afro-culture and the unique, pure, Afro sounds. Other selections show how older styles, instrumentation, and even rhythms have changed and reflect the modern beat that appeals to the urban African taste."

Ice Cream & Suckers - South African Soul (Mercury, SR61213, c 1966)
Ice Cream and Suckers - Soweto Stockvel Septette
Mr Dube No 5 - Mr Dube
Sweetie Love - Jabulani Quads
Mr Bull No 4 - Mr Bull
School In - SDV Swing Band
Brown Pepper - Cassius the Great
Mr Bull No 3 - Mr Bull
Mr Dube No 7 - Mr Dube
Lindi - TV Sisters
Sunny Side Up No 2 - Cassius the Great
Yo-Yo Jive - SDV Swing Band
Ice Cream and Suckers No 2 - Soweto Stokvel Septette

Sunday 13 September 2009

‘Township Mshovo’ and ‘Groovin’ one-two from Big Voice Jack

Staying with the mbaqanga roots theme season, here’s a one-two from Big Voice Jack Lerole, another foundation member of mbaqanga’s genesis. Township Mshovo, with the ‘Old City Jazzsters’ leans towards the marabi side with a smattering of ‘tiekie-draai’ and a healthy dose of sax jive – playing music originating from the 1960s, but recorded in 1988.

‘Groovin’ is a “retrospective” offering probably from the 80s (before Lerole joined Mango Groove). On the back cover Lerole suggests it would be his last recording. Some of you might remember the very popular 12 inch that Shifty issued of the Joburg City All-Stars – “Groovin Jive Number One”? Well – Groovin here might sound familiar, if just a little older.
Lerole emerged as a pennywhistle player of note in the 1950s and was one of the first to switch to saxophone in the mid-sixties as mbaqanga really began to take off. Big Voice Jack travelled a long path from being at the genesis of a musical movement in the streets of Alexandra in the 1950s, to playing a crowd of 80 000 people at the Giants Stadium in New York with the Dave Matthews Band in 1998. He died at the age of 63 in 2003.
You can read more about this fascinating man and his story here: and here:

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Bayasimemeza: More Mbaqanga!

Bayasimemeza in Zulu means ‘they are calling’ – usually from across the valley. This time it is from across the sea. So, one more response to Matsuli’s call, and to Nick’s requests for more Mbaqanga. All of the King, Soweto, Oshisayo and Groove labels featured here were obtained via Matsuli’s sales site anyway! If you ask Matt nicely, it seems he can be persuaded to cut a package deal from his amazing vault of singles. I could not resist slipping in the last song – it just does something deep down for me.

Uthando Luphelile        2:46 KGB 043a Mellotone Sisters
Thath Istimela           2:29 ROB 8a Mahlabatini and the Jive Kings
King Size               2:42 SWB 13b Pikinini Khumbuza
Madula                3:00 KGB 002a Mahlathini
Halala                  2:53 OSB 8b Shebeleza & Natal Queens
Bayasimemeza       3:04 SWB 95b Indoda Mahlathini, Boy Nze & the Queens
Thokozile 1200         2:40 KGB 052a Piston Mahlathini and the Queens
Two Mabone          3:10 Mathaka vol 1 Makgona Tsohle Band
We Lindiwe          2:57 Tse Hlwahlwa Tsa Mahotella Queens
Asambeni            2:46 KGB 041a Mthembu All Star Queens
Kumnyama E Ndlini     2:29 SWB 96a Indoda Mahlatini and the Queens
Jo'burg City              3:32 Busang Meropa Bahumutsi
Sesafeleng Seyahlola    3:02 The Best Of Mpharanyana
Disco In The Air          3:27 The Early Years Soul Brothers
Igqiha                       3:38 Verve Today Mozuluart


Monday 7 September 2009

Star Time with the Dark City Sisters

Matt over at the matsuli blog laid down the challenge for us to come up with something to match the priceless Motella compilation from Nick Lotay. And this is us trying to hit that spot! More musical than the Mahotella Queens and the earliest group to lay the main foundation for urban jive in South Africa here is the wonderful debut LP from the Dark City Sisters.

From the original liner notes:
The sun has set. It's party time and what can be more appropriate than "Startime with the Dark City Sisters". This group is undoubtably the most popular African vocal combo in this country. They present on this, their first long-playing record, a selection of songs which will certainly set your feet dancing. Such old favourites have never sounded better. They have the tendency to display their vocal ability in songs, some with a featured soloist while the others accompany in the background, giving to the listeners only pleasing melodic sound. Herein the Dark City Sisters offer you an entertaining slection including the following:
Sekusile - The song begins with the cocks crowing to encourage everyone to arise and start the new day. The lyrics being, "Wake up ladies and gentlemen another day has begun so let us prepare for work"
Rose - The story of a man who was very badly disappointed in love and decided to pray to God that Rose (his ex-fiancé) would return to him. To his joy, his prayers were answered and they were married soon after.
Langa More - An evergreeen which introduced a new form of dance, different from the Flying Jazz, in that the arm movement remained unchanged but the feet movement of the dancers became that of a sliding motion side by side in a movement reminicent of the Charleston
Change Jive Bafana - A follow-up of Lange More. This tune became a tremendous hit all over the Country.

This record is the perfect prescription for dispelling Party Blues and to get your guests in the mood for Startime with the Dark City Sisters.


Thursday 3 September 2009

AHOY! Dread Warriors Ah Come

This post is dedicated to the Matsuli blog and is a response to a number of posts illuminating the Afro-punk sounds of the late seventies and early eighties in Johannesburg. Well this one today comes from the same family tree and includes the Khoza brothers, previously with Ivan Kadey's seminal afro-punk outfit, National Wake. Also on this LP is Risenga Makondo who played for long period in Amampondo. The Dread Warriors recorded the first reggae LP in South Africa and this is it.

Dread Warriors (Gallo BL455, 1983)
1. Dread Warriors
2. Shigangu
3. Sangoma
4. See Them Ah Com
5. Harvest Time
6. Tshindi
7. Dread on a Mountain Top
8. Reggae Music
Produced by Charlie Rakawema, Recorded at RPM Studios, Cover design by EMS
Compoed by BP Khoza, Dennis Hlangwane, Dumi Hlangwane except Reggae Music (Steve Kekana) and Shigangu (Malopoets)