Wednesday 30 June 2010

Stomping good fun: South African Accordion Jive (1972)

A boisterous stomping good time is being had by football lovers in South Africa. In Durban the beachfront promenade is one big festival of fun – which is also what South African jive music is mostly all about.

The City of Durban has done a great job all-round, including bringing in local musicians and artists to entertain the hordes of happy visitors. Pictured here is Matt of Matsuli fame having a chat to long-time musical stalwart Elliot Ngidi whose recordings date back to the shellac 78rpm days of the 1950s with songs such as Umatanazan and Busman. See reference in Chris Ballantine's collection here.

In celebration of fun, and in response to a request from our good musical friends in Barranquilla, Columbia, we offer you a 1972 Accordion Jive Compilation on the Go Go label.

Of the three artists featured, Lulu Masilela is now the most well known. Masilela wrote and played with Paul Simon on the Graceland album. He also headlined the Boyoyo Boys - their CD SuperJive Hits can be bought for R45 here.

RS here
MF here

Sunday 27 June 2010

Viva Black Stars!

We interrupt normal programming to salute Ghana's Black Stars for being in tip top form and reaching the top 8 section of the world cup. To celebrate we bring you Pat Thomas with his very popular early LP Wednesday at Tip Toe.
New Link (30 Dec 2014) : Mediafire here

Saturday 19 June 2010

Joburg Love Trip Mix

Joburg Love Trip :: An Exclusive ElectricJive Mix
01 Bump Jive No 6 - Pts 1 & 2 - The Movers
02 The Webb - Makhona Zonke Band
03 Musikana - Harari
04 Somewhere There - Makhona Zonke Band
05 Johannesburg Love Trip - Thembi
06 Spinning Wheel with Lucky Mbatha vocals - The Drive
07 Sugar Pie - Spirits Rejoice
08 Loving Style - Mavis Maseko and the Movers
09 Lets Live Together - Mpharanyana
10 Joy - Spirits Rejoice
11 Please Tell Me Why - The Movers
12 Darling Darling - The Savers
13 Mary - Soul Brothers
14 Gimme Your Love - Margaret Singana
This one is specially dedicated to Duncan Brooker, Quinton Scott and Francis Gooding at Strut Records as a thank you for the brilliant Next Stop Soweto compilation series. Its about time!

Thursday 17 June 2010

Original South African Lounge Music - German Style (1958)

Germany’s Horst Wende did Rainbow Nation lounge music in 1958. The World Cup Carnival does give permission to push boundaries aside for a while, does it not? Well, here we have a German and a Dane (Ladi Geisler on bass guitar) moving through boundaries in South Africa more than fifty years ago, arranging their own African mixes for European and American easy listening sensibilities of the time.

This unusual blend on one LP  combines well known Afrikaans and African tunes orchestrated into a fusion of muzak for elevators, fair grounds, and cool retro lounge establishments ballsy enough to play Suikerbossie alongside Skokiaan.

You will also find the odd pennywhistle sax-jive and kwela, along with boere 'vastrap' and an accordion polka and a waltz thrown into the melting pot for good measure. While it is not in the same league as the rich tapestry of African Jazz and  Jive that South African bands of the time were producing, the easy-listening sanitisation for foreign audiences both subtracts and adds its own nuances.

Horst Wende (aka Roberto Delgado) was a prolific musical explorer well ahead of his time. He popularized music from all over the world, releasing more than 100 albums in forty five years – introducing his adventuresome European and American audiences to varieties of Latin, African, Italian, Russian, Greek and Jamaican music as well as Broadway musicals. You can read more on this interesting man here.

As for the album covers: it is not often you will find boer ox-wagons joining African masks in one picture. The alternative cover with the animals must have been designed to attract buyers who might not recognise the wagons and masks?

RS here
MF here

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Manu Dibango also sang Toyota's praises

For those readers who followed the Miriam Makeba post on her songs in praise of Toyota, EJ visitor Captian Mango shares this Makossa contribution from Manu Dibango to Toyota's well being here. Click on the title. Thanks Captain Mango!

Monday 14 June 2010

Sweet Sax Sweet Flute Sweet Spokes Mashiyane

World Cup distractions - mixed fortunes for Africa's sides ... but we wont bore you with the details here. It is however time to share some more early classic jive from Spokes Mashiyane  ... and now that Cameroon were burgled by Japan (sorry, I digress) ... when i first saw this cover I wondered as to the significance of the Japanese umbrella for Spokes in the early 60s ... today, well, Japan cast a big shadow in Africa. Well played Japan ... but I digress.

Great early 60s music from Spokes here. Thanks Siemon for the share! Enjoy ... and now for Italy ... P.S. if you did not get to listen to the Shyannes below ... do yourself a favour and pull that one your way too! Go Bafana, go Ghana!

RS here
MF here

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Soweto Soul Strut

This one is a big shout out to the good folks at Strut Records: Quinton Scott, Duncan Brooker and Francis Gooding. It comes via a matsuli link shared on his auction at eBay. Our hats off to Strut Records for the groundbreaking three volume Next Stop Soweto compilations. As the focus turn to the fields of dreams around the country we are sitting back and enjoying this seldom seen compilation of soul and fusion originals and covers all exceptionally produced by Hilton Rosenthal.

The Shyannes featuring The Firebirds and Philip Malela (Butterfly, LOC 8002, 1975)
1. Sky High (Donald Byrd) - The Shyannes
2. Never My Love (Andrissi)/Never Can Say Goodbye (Clifton Davis) - The Firebirds
3. Tiba Kamo (Ntuli, Khaoli, Mabuse) - Philip Malela
4. Osakai (Trad) - The Shyannes
5. Dirty Ol' Man (Gamble/Huff) - The Firebirds
6. Havana Strut (Deodata) - The Shyannes
7. When Will I See You Again (Gamble/Huff) - The Firebirds
8. A Man's World (Brown) - Philip Malela
9. You Touched Me (Caiphus Semnya/ Mel Dancy) - Mavis Maseko
10. Half Moon (J Hall) - The Shyannes
Produced by Hilton Rosenthal. Recorded by Paul Wright in the Gallo Studios.

Updated (2015) link here

Friday 4 June 2010

Carnival time in South Africa

"Carnival" is a global tradition thousands of years old in which social rules and sensibilities become suspended or even reversed during a time of merriment and excess. Perhaps Fifa is stronger on the rules, but there is certainly a party of proportion looming in South Africa. Traditionally, Carnivals embrace conditions which enable marginalised groups to mock regular convention, rules and rulers with everyone still having a good time - time will tell with the football.

And so it has been with South Africa’s “Coon Carnivals” (more about this terminology below) with opportunities for music, merriment, mockery, and excess - which even the apartheid government tried to co-opt rather than suppress. As with much South African music, influences come from afar and have roots that go deep. Wealthy slave owners in the Cape had their own slave orchestras. Emancipation in the 1830s and visits by American blackface minstrels added to the mix. More on this fascinating history can be found here

Founded by Majiet Omar in the early 1950s, “The Golden City Dixies” became a launching pad for some successful South African musical careers – including Jonathan Butler, Sammy Hartman and Danny Williams (see picture) who later became known as Britain’s Johnny Mathis.
While “Coon Carnival” Performances have become synonymous with Cape Town, this band has its origins in Johannesburg as “The Dixie Merrrymakers”. The name-change to the “Golden City Dixies” came about in Durban after local promoter Maurice Smith got them out of a spot of bother (see the back-cover picture for the story).

This ten-inch LP was most likely recorded in 1956 with Danny Williams aged 14. Repeated promises of overseas tours eventually materialised in April 1959 when the troupe became the first South African performing ensemble to tour internationally. It was on this tour that Ned Newell spotted Williams and signed him for HMV. Williams’ recording of Moon River hit number one in the UK charts in 1961 and became the first album to sell over a million copies in Britain.

The title of the album being shared today belies some South African complexities. “Coon carnival” was for decades in common use by members of the minstrel troupes. According to African History Professor and Photographer John Edwin Mason “Even though the word does not carry racist implications in South Africa, many people associated with the Carnival avoid its use, preferring to use "minstrel" or the Afrikaans term "klops" instead. Read much more about the history and see picutres of the carnivals here and here and here.

From the back cover of this record: “The New Year at Cape Town is Coon Carnival time when the Coloured and Malay people parade the streets in their brilliant multi-coloured costumes and compete for the floating trophies which are awarded annually for the various competitions. …. The Festival is so an integral part of Cape life that its origins are forgotten but it may have been started during the last century at the time when the slaves were emancipated. … Although the Carnival is associated particularly with the Cape Province, an enterprising singer of Malay original, Majiet Omar, decided to spread the idea further afield, and it was he who thought of forming a Coon Carnivcal troupe in “The Golden City”. At that time Coon competitions were held annually in Johannesburg.. …

“While most songs collected here are the “Moppies” and “Lietjies” that have been handed down by tradition and which are the feature of the Cape Town Carnival. There will also be found some of the American songs which are more frequently heard in present-day Carnivals. …The troupe have made a feature of mimicry, and their impersonations of Amercian signers are so lifelike that they have often been accused of moming their songs to the accompaniment of gramophone records”.
The song Darling Nelly Gray is a 19th century song about a male slave in Kentucky mourning his beloved who was sold South to Georgia – the song ends in an embrace of death after a life of loss and sorrow.

RS Link
MF Link

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Sh-boom: additions to the 50s archive

The thrill of stumbling across previously unknown gems really does feel special for record diggers – all the more when fellow collectors come forward to share what they have found on their own journeys. These 78rpm vinyls come courtesy of Ned Newitt’s collection – thank you Ned.

Thoko Thomo and the Lo Six do feature amongst the more than 13,000-strong collection of the South African Music Archive Project (SAMAP) – though the two songs on offer here are additional to that archive. While the “Germiston Brown Dots” do not feature at SAMAP, the translator and arranger of their fabulous version of Sh-boom, Walter Theletsane, also did a translation and arrangement of “Day-O”, again for the Columbia label.

I am sorry to say I cannot enlighten you any further on the Four Bright Lads from Durban, except to say these 1950s harmonies are categorised as 'Zulu Jive'.

Many recordings from the 50s just do not have dates printed on them. While Sh-boom (Life Could be a Dream) was first published in 1954, 78 rpm records were pressed well into the 1960s in South Africa. Whatever their dates, ElectricJive is just happy to play a small part in ensuring that these well preserved recordings of 1950s Zulu jive, vocal and cover adaptations are a) not lost, and b) are heard by an appreciative audience.

TJ 112 Zulu Jive vocal
Buya Jimmy (Restell)
Rand Baby (Restell)
T 5815-1

SB 54 Zulu Jive
THE FOUR BRIGHT LADS OF DURBAN with Rhythm accompaniment
Unomathemba (Remigius Hlophe)
AA 30053.2H
Umuntu Wembazo (Remigius Hlophe)
AA 30053.1H

YE 133 Zulu
Sh-Boom ( J. Keyes, C. Feaster, F.W. Marne, J. Edwards- Zulu lyric, Walter Theletsane)
CEA 2989
Mamazala (trad arr Walter Theletsane)
CEA 2990

RS link
MF link