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

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