Monday 12 April 2010

Kabasa: ‘Searchin’ for an unusual fusion

It is surprising how many South African musicians were great admirers of the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and so on. Leading light in Kabasa, Robert “Doc” Mthalane was at times called South Africa’s Jimi Hendrix. Mthalane is revered among Busi Mhlongo fans as being the master guitarist and writer of most of the songs on her stunning debut album “Babemu” and beyond through the mid-nineties.

Like Mhlongo’s music (read a recent post by Bongani Madondo on Busi here) today’s offering from 1981 draws on and fuses a wide range of styles – from maskanda and traditional Zulu, through to psychedelic rock, with a little bit of jazz and funk in-between. Close your eyes and hear echoes of Ray Phiri’s Stimela (in the two opening tracks), while half-way through my favourite track “Searchin” you could swear you can hear David Gilmour ex of Pink Floyd doing a solo guest spot.

Just before he died of Tuberculosis in 1998, Mthalane led a London recording of a collaborative album “Respect” with Madala Kunene, Mabi Thobejane and Brice Wassy. He died before it was completed. The last track “Song for Doc” is sung by Busi Mhlongo in a dedication and tribute to Mthalane. Sorry folks, another recording that is out of print.

Doc Mthalane’s son, Dan, leads an emerging group calling themselves “The Zulu Rock Band”, who, at the request of Busi Mhlongo, opened a performance of hers at the Rainbow Restaurant in September 2009.

Thanks Koos for your generous gift of this vinyl!

Kabasa: Atlantic ATH4048
Recorded at the SATBEL and R.P.M. Studios, Johannesburg (1981)
Engineers: Graham Handley, John Lindeman, and Richard Mitchell.
Produced by Kabasa
Tata Sibeko: Bass Guitar and Vocals
Doc Mthalane: Lead guitar and Vocals
Percy Kunene: Drummer
Abie Manda: Keyboards
Other musicians: Madoda Malotane – All Keyboards; Enoch Mtalane, Lead Guitar on Searchin, Long Day and Sonqoba.

1. Pickin’ up the pieces (M. Malotana / T. Sibeko)
2. Long Day (T. Sibeko / D. Mthalane / O. Segwai)
3. Hela MManyeu (T. Sibeko / D. Mthalane / O. Segwai)
4. Unga pfula a chi pfalo (A. Manda / T. Sibeko / O. Segwai)
5. Searchin (T. Sibeko / D. Mthalane)
6. Sonqoba (T. Sibeko / D. Mthalane).

RS Link
MF Link

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