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



  1. I'm so glad this music is getting out into the world. This is Roots music. From the heart. Love it.. Thank you so much.


  2. Thanks for a great post. I'm a little curious about the the album called "Tse Hlwahlwa Tsa". Nick Lotay wrote that this is the 1983 original of what was later reissued as "Marriage is a Problem" in the US and supposedly a collection of 1967-75 songs. But the song "We Lindiwe" can't be found on that tracklist. Also, in the Mahotella discography you can actually find an album called "Marriage is a Problem" from 1975. Could you sort out the confusion?

  3. Hi FredrikO,
    "Tse Hlwahlwa Tsa" was a Sotho-language "Best of..." series that Gallo/Mavuthela put out in the early 1980s. Each of their mbaqanga/soul artists had one of their own "Tse Hlwahlwa Tsa" releases, but oddly enough, the Mahotella Queens had two of them. I guess this is where the confusion lies! The first album featured songs recorded between 1970 and 1980, and the second album featured songs recorded between 1967 and 1975. Here are further details about the two albums to clear up any confusion:

    The first album:
    Release date: 28 July 1980
    Label: Motella RL 319
    A1) Mokgadi O Fihlile
    A2) Marena
    A3) Dithota
    A4) Re Basadi Kaofela
    A5) Tshoara Khaitsedi
    A6) Tsoela Pele Ngoanana
    B1) Ntshwarele Ntate
    B2) Mmaditaba - Irene & The Sweet Melodians
    B3) Selailai
    B4) Makoti Feela
    B5) Nyalo Ea Tshwenya
    B6) We Lindiwe

    The second album
    Release date: 10 October 1983
    Label: Gumba Gumba BL 456
    A1) Marena
    A2) Ba Bakoto
    A3) Dikhomo
    A4) Jive Makhona
    A5) Mantshi
    A6) Mathatha Aka
    B1) Selailai
    B2) Thonthodi
    B3) Nyalo Ea Tshwenya
    B4) Kgarebe Tsa Ga Mothusi
    B5) Mokoka
    B6) Leselesele

    The second album was later re-released in the USA in 1991 by Shanachie Records under the title "Marriage is a Problem" (the English translation of "Nyalo Ea Tshwenya"). "Nyalo Ea Tshwenya" was originally released in 1975 on 45 rpm. There was no album released in 1975 with the title "Marriage is a Problem".

    Hope this helps!

    Nick Lotay

    1. Morning Nick, it was really a pleasure to "bump" into this link I don't really know how it came about but I thank God for it. I have been able to listen to a few songs and have actually gotten to know who sings them and even hear clearly the lyrics and message behind them. Further, the confusion on some of the artists has been cleared as I read through comments from interested mbaqanga lovers.
      I'd been surfing the net looking for this Mbaqanga music but got nowhere.
      Today's african music genre isn't appealing to me that much and as we approach the festive season and as we reminisce the Christmas celebrations in the past and remember the departed ones one would only hope to get a gift of the two albums tsa "Nyalo e a tshwenya" & "Tse Hlwahlwa tsa".


  4. Thank you guys for taking the time with this. The fog is definitely clearing now. So, then I guess Wiki's discography is wrongly stating that "Marriage is a Problem" is a 1975 Gallo album:

  5. PS. I also notice that the Shanachie reissue tracklist differs somewhat from the original.

  6. I'd like to clear up a track-name confusion.

    On this compilation, the seventh song is listed as

    "Thokozile 1200 2:40 KGB 052a Piston Mahlathini and the Queens"

    Meanwhile, at, the 25th song on that compilation is listed as

    "25. ITHEMBA ALIBULALI – [Mahlathini] with The Queens (1976)"

    So -- what's the problem? They're the same exact song!

    My question: which song title and artist name is correct?

    I can make out the words "ithemba alibulali" in the lyrics, so I'm guessing that "Ithemba Alibulali" is the actual correct name for the song. And that therefore "Mahlathini with the Queens" is the correct name for the artist.

    Why then on this compilation is it called "Thokozile 1200 2:40 KGB 052a Piston Mahlathini and the Queens"? Or was that just a liner-note error, and that name was supposed to refer to a different song?

    Adding to the strangeness, if one listens very carefully to both versions of the song as presented in both compilations, although it is the exact same song and exact same recording in each case, the two different tracks were actually recorded off of different vinyl records -- the scratches and pops one one version do not match the scratches and pops on the other version.

    Thus: could it be that this song was released twice, on two different records, each time with a different title and each time credited to a slightly different name as the performers? Or not?

    Any help clearing this up would be most appreciated. I know it may seem trivial, but I like to know exactly what it is I'm listening to, and in this case I'm not sure! It wouldn't particularly matter if it was a forgettable track, but it's a classic that I want to keep listening to over and over!

  7. Yes the versions were recorded from different vinyl sources.
    Yes the song names and artist names are different on the two different vinyl issues.
    Probably because the King label was (as far as we can ascertain) set up to promote mbaqanga soon after Mahlathini left the Mavuthela stable in the early seventies.....but its probably best left for our resident expert Nick Lotay to answer

  8. Thanks Anonymous for the detailed question - only to happy to connect with someone who is as interested. I have checked my database and the Thokozile 1200 name is certainly given to the track on the King 45rpm record (KGB52). I will see if I can haul the actual single out from my collection and verify. I suspect you are right and that I may have mixed the song title in transcription. Nick may be able to add a little background on how this song came to be released on the King label - along with a number of Piston Mahlatini and the Queens songs (which I should share sometime!)Cheers

  9. Wow, those were such quick replies! So my guess seems to be right -- it was released twice, with different names on different records. Strange! Now I have to decide whether to keep both versions, or choose the one I like best and just keep that one.

    Don't know if I should admit this (then again, why not), but I like many of the songs on both of the compilations mentioned, yet I don't like having a single gigantic mp3 with dozens of songs (some better than others) within it, so I actually went to extreme lengths to laboriously deconstruct each mega-mp3 compilation into a folder of standalone mp3s, one song per file. In other words, I de-compiled the compilations and made them into mp3 collections -- so I could keep just the ones I liked and dispose of the rest.

    Boy, was that a lot of work! But worth it, because the music was unique, and great.

    But in some cases, the segue between the songs was so tight that the tracks blended into each other, with sonic overlap in the initial and final seconds. Distressing! Thus, in both versions of this song, the beginning seconds feature the sounds of the end of the previous song fading away. Ugh. But better than not having the song at all!

    If you ever do another compilation, for the sake of your listeners, present it as a collection of individual mp3s, rather than a single huge multi-song file, which is unwieldy and hard to manage.

    Always keep in mind that what you are doing on ElectricJive is of major historical significance: you are rescuing the musical heritage of a nation and a continent! Thank you for eternity!

  10. ^ Hi Anonymous,

    I've only just seen your comments!

    Mahlathini left the Gallo-Mavuthela stable in 1972, and joined the Satbel Record Company the following year, recording with a new group of singers called The Queens. This was a separate group of female singers not to be confused with Gallo-Mavuthela's Mahotella Queens. The King label belonged to Satbel, as did the Soweto label - Mahlathini's material was released on these two labels until he left Satbel in 1977.

    One of the songs he recorded with The Queens at Satbel was "Ithemba Alibulali". The song was originally released under it's true name, but an apparent production screw-up meant that the song was mistakenly released again a few months later. "Thokozile 1200" is a different song, but all copies of that particular 45 rpm that we've managed to find here at EJ all have the song "Ithemba Alibulali" on that side of the 45. A mere production/pressing error can cause so much confusion!

    I'm sorry to hear you don't enjoy the mixes we put together. I can understand why people prefer the compilations (individual tracks) as opposed to the mixes (one continuous MP3). I can't speak for the rest of the EJ team, but the mixes I create are intended to be listened to all the way through, for example on a stereo in the home or in the car on a journey - although I completely accept that everyone has their own preferred methods of listening to music, and would prefer the individual tracks. I like to think that the individual-tracked compilations I put together (the most recent one was shared in June with the Rupert Bopape post) are bigger, for want of a better word, than my mixes in terms of the material being shared.

    There's every chance I'll offer both a single MP3 and a folder of individual tracks for my next compilation/mix. Thanks for your feedback!


  11. Nick -
    Thanks for the detailed info. Question finally answered definitively!

    I listened very carefully to both versions, and determined that the mislabeled 45 rpm version is somewhat clearer and more crisp, so I discarded the album version and relabeled the incorrect "Thokozile 1200" 45 rpm version to have the actual correct name "Ithemba Alibulali" and dropped the "Piston," to match the original album track name. Ahhhhh.

    But now I have another obsessive question:

    On some of your compilations you wonderfully provide the release date of each song...but on this one, you don't. Would it be a lot of trouble for you to find the release dates of the following songs? I really like to know when each song is from, as it helps me to follow the development of the musical styles, and helps to put the song in historical context. If it's too much effort, or if you don't know, that's fine, but I just thought I'd ask anyway, since I'll never be able to find the release years anywhere else but here! These are the specific songs from this compilation for which I'd love to know the release year:

    Two Mabone by Makgona Tsohle Band

    Uthando Luphelile by Mellotone Sisters

    Asambeni by Mthembu All Star Queens

    King Size by Pikinini Khumbuza

    Halala by Shebeleza & Natal Queens

    Kumnyama E Ndlini by Indoda Mahlathini and the Queens

    Bayasimemeza by Indoda Mahlathini, Boy Nze & the Queens

    Thath Istimela by Mahlabatini and the Jive Kings

    Madula by Mahlathini

    We Lindiwe by The Mahotella Queens

  12. Dear 'anonymous' - it would be kind of nice to know who you are - but anyways, herewith the details you asked for. (I do have duplicates of most of these singles - message me directly if you are interested)

    Makgona Tsohle Band - Two Mabone - Decca - 1973
    Mellotone Sisters - King KGB 43 - 1976
    Mthembu All Star Queens - KGB 41 - 1976
    King Size by Pikinini Khumbuza - Soweto - SWB 013 - 1973
    Halala by Shebeleza & Natal Queens - Oshisayo label OSB8 - 1976
    Kumnyama E Ndlini by Indoda Mahlathini and the Queens - SWB 096 - 1974
    Bayasimemeza by Indoda Mahlathini, Boy Nze & the Queens - SWB 095 - 1974
    Thath Istimela by Mahlabatini and the Jive Kings - Groove label ROB008 - 1977
    Madula by Mahlathini - KGB 002 - 1976
    We Lindiwe by The Mahotella Queens - I do not have information on this title - maybe Nick can help.
    Best wishes - Chris

  13. Chris --

    Wow, that's great -- thanks so much for posting the release years!!

    As for me being "anonymous": I'm not anyone famous or anyone you know, I'm just a random fan of South African music living in northern California. I generally never like to use my real name on the Internet due to privacy concerns in other areas of my life.

    To abuse your generosity and kindness, I'm now going to ask yet another question that has nothing really to do with ElectricJive, but maybe the EJ folks have the answer filed away somewhere! I don't expect a reply, but here goes anyway:

    I'm also trying to find the release years of various tracks contained in the commercial CDs "Rough Guide To The Music Of South Africa" on the World Music Network label, and "The Secret Museum of Mankind, Music of East Africa - 1925-48" on the Yazoo label. I presume the info is contained in the liner notes/booklets for each CD, but the problem is -- I don't have the booklets! I just have the discs and mp3s. So my question is: Do you know if and where the liner notes for either of those releases is available anywhere online? I've searched to no avail. If you don't know, that's fine.

    Thanks once again for making all this great music available!

  14. OK, here's a real nitpicky/obsessive question:

    A 1973 single by Pikinini Khumbuza has "Jackpot" on the A side and "King Size" on the B side (as revealed here:

    The A side, "Jackpot," is 2:37 long, while "King Size" is 2:45.

    Yet in this compilation, that song identified as "King Size" is ~2:34 long, leading me to believe that that song is actually "Jackpot," but is misidentified.

    Further confirming this impression is that the EXACT same music is in the compilation found at, also ~2:34, yet there it is identified there as "Jackpot."

    So my question is:

    Is the third track here by Pikinini Khumbuza in reality the song "Jackpot," the A-side of the single, which has been misidentified here by EJ as "King Size," the B-side?

  15. How does it sound is the question!

  16. It sounds great! That's why I want to know what song it is I'm listening to!

  17. Seems you are right aperson - one of the reasons we are cutting back here at EJ - not enough time to enjoy what we are doing.

    SWB 13B King Size

    SWB13 A - Jackpot

    I have one or two spare copies of these and other similar singles if anyone is particularly interested in getting hold of these. Mail me.

  18. Chris -- wow, fresh clean downloads of both songs! More than I could have ever hoped for -- thanks a million.

    However, the new downloads reveal that your identification of "King Size" in this compilation was entirely correct after all!!! Track three in the compilation is the same song IDed as "King Size" in your new downloads. I'm now listening to the song IDed as "Jackpot" in the new downloads, and it is a song I have never heard before. I think the issue of the song length was a red herring -- "King Size" has a very long fade out at the end, which was overlapped by segues in both compilations, making the track seem shorter than its actual length on the 45.

    Anyway, mystery solved, with a cherry on top!

    Never forget that 99% of us out here in the rest of the world have essentially no other access to the South African music you are surrounded by, so every little tidbit, trivia or download you share is like manna from heaven for us.

  19. Glad you are happy aperson. Just a footnote. We are unfortunately not "surrounded" by this music - much of it is actually very rare and difficult to access, and sometimes we pay top dollar to get hold of particular recordings that we thought no longer existed. So, we do appreciate it very much when EJ visitors understand that context .. and sometimes, as is only natural for human beings, we feel that many visitors dont really care - which kind of leaves us asking ourselves why we are doing what we are doing.

  20. Chris --

    Well, I can't speak for everyone else, but I certainly "care" about the amazing bounty at Electric Jive. I think it's the best music blog ever! I have by now browsed through your old posts and downloaded over 100 albums and compilations, of which I have only yet had time to listen to about 10 or 12. I estimate it will take me at least a year to listen to them all, a year I look forward to greatly. It takes me that long because I reverently ponder each song's quality and significance, research it, rate it, treating each mp3 like a rare artifact from a lost civilization.

    I understand that you and your fellow EJers go to great lengths to acquire and upload this music, and I don't take your efforts for granted! i was just saying that out here in California, there simply aren't any rare South African records in existence, so one doesn't even have the option of devoting time to tracking them down. There's nothing to find!

    As for the general sense of futility the Ejers feel at the lack of world-changing enthusiasm about what you have unearthed and given to the world -- well, I feel your pain. There should indeed be much more interest globally in the music of South Africa, but for reasons beyond my or your control or understanding, it remains a fairly minor "niche market" for consumers outside of SA itself. That's not your fault, and you shouldn't blame yourselves for not changing the world's tastes with your blog. Just rest assured that within the "small pond" of SA music appreciation and scholarship, you are the biggest fish. And even if you never make another post, what you have already achieved is enough the cement EJ's status as a Very Important Blog. Just remember to always leave it online, even if you decide to no longer update it! It will enlighten and delight people for years to come. Maybe you wish it reached more people than it did, but I suspect it greatly affected (improved the lives of) those who have discovered it -- whether or not they ever took the time to comment and provide you with feedback.

  21. Thanks aperson for the support. We are quite comfortable in recognising the niche status of the music we share. We are committed to continuing and keeping the blog 'alive' for as long as we can. In the end, the only feedback and encouragement we can discern is from the comments received. Best wishes for 2013


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