Tuesday 28 September 2010

Alex Soul Menu

The Flaming Souls were formed by Simon Twala and Philip Malela when Alexandra's first soul group The Anchors broke up. They recorded two full length LPs, She's Gone (UPL2008) and Alex Soul Menu (UPL2010). Other members of the group included Gerald Khoza, Herman Fox, Kenny Mosito and Condry Ziqubu. For more details on the Soweto Soul scene check out "Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music" by Max Mojapelo as well as the sleeve notes to Next Stop Soweto Volume 2, that included a Flaming Souls tune. The Flaming Souls were produced by Teal record scout West Nkosi.

The Flaming Souls - Alex Soul Menu (UP UP UP, UPL5010, 1970)
1. Admission
2. Harvest
3. A Whiter Shade of Pale
4. Hot Pepper
5. Modupe (Thunder Showers)
6. Alex Soul Menu
7. Alex Soul Stew
8. Everybody Needs Help
9. Tell It
10. Tribute to a True Friend
11. Soul Men

Apologies for the condition of this record but we felt the historical value outweighs the fidelity.
"Praise it, condemn it, whatever, WE LOVE IT!!" (Elliot Makhaya, The World Soul/Pop Writer)

Monday 27 September 2010

Moçambique's Fado

This Gallotone LP is testament to a sophisticated Lusophone music scene in southern Africa more than fifty years ago. It is also an important and beautiful record of Moçambique’s gift to the Portugese and global canon of Fado music.

Most important, this LP is the earliest recording that Electric Jive knows of Moçambican singer Joao Maria Tudella (below right) who went on to become a globally recognised Fado singer. The estimated date of this Johannesburg recording is 1955 or 1956 (GALP1011). This album also contains important Moçambican Fado compositions, including the perernially popular “Uma Casa Portuguesa” which is about: "The Portugese home has its own characteristics. It is simple and lives off the sincere friendship of those who belong to it, and values more the tenderness of a kiss to the warmth of a fireplace which often they cannot afford." (from the back cover).

An authoritative 1973 essay by musicologist Margaret Nabarro captures the fascinating history of Fado in Moçambique.

“As in Portugal, the accompaniment to the Fado in Lourenço Marques was provided by the two guitarists, the Portuguese guitar providing the melody and the Spanish guitar providing the harmony, often a ground bass.

“Although most of the fados performed in Lourenço Marques came from Lisbon there were examples of locally produced fados. Artur Fonseca, the brother of Antonio Fonseca, the guitar player, studied music in Lisbon and he is a composer of considerable repute. One of his best successes is the fado “Uma Casa Portuguesa. This fado is internationally known and has been sung and recorded in Lisbon by many famous singers including Amalia Rodrigues, who is still regarded by most as the “Queen of fado singers”. The libretto of «Uma Casa Portuguesa» was written as a poem by two young Lourenço Marques poets, Matos Sequeira and Reinaldo Ferreira. The first performance was given in Lourenço Marques in the Spring of 1954 at the Radio Clube de Moçambique and the singer was Sara Chaves.” Read more here.

Fado Singer Joao Maria Tudella was born in Moçambique in 1929 and schooled in South Africa. He was unsuccessful in his law studies in Coimbra, Portugal and was forced by his family to return to Mozambique. Tudella persisted with his singing passion and became famous for it. This recording is one of the earliest and was made while he was still working in Lourenco Marques either for Shell or for an insurance company. In 1959 he linked up with the South African Dan Hill band and had an international hit with the song Kanimambo. Tudella persisted with singing Fado and went on to tour America, Brazil and became a big hit in Portugal in the 1960s, winning numerous awards and national prizes there.  Read more about him here.
Gallotone issued a follow-up Lusophone issue (GALP 1067) in 1959 to celebrate the first anniversary of the “new” Moçambique Restaurant in Noord Street, Johannesburg – “Cabaret at the Mocambique”. You can find most of the songs of this recording over at our good friend Soul Safari.
This post goes out to "music-knitter Nauma at the freedomblues blogsite - thanks Nauma for sharing all the wonderful Fado and other Lusophone music you have posted recently!

Rapidshare download here
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Wednesday 22 September 2010

Taxi Jive (Songs from the African Bush)

Not a lot of bush in this compilation of urban jive compiled for a foreign audience. The compiler did a good job though and the great examples of early electric jive more than compensate for plainly wrong sub-title and imagery.

Taxi Jive - Song from the African Bush (MXX 10048, Mace, c1965)
1. Quick Step - Sdudla
2. Taxi Fare - Fast Drivers
3. Makhona Tsohle Jive - Eight Gentlemen
4. Echo Jive Christmas Surprise - The Hilltops
5. Xmas Time - The New All Stars
6. Linville Special - Zebra Boys
7. Dwi - Valenti's Rhythm Kings
8. Mojo Dance No 2 - King Marshall
9. Spider - The Snake Bites
10. 3-0-3 - Margo's Men
11. Woza Nazo - Eight Gentlemen
12. Yehlela - The Big Heads
The Eight Gentlemen are almost certainly the Makhona Tsohle Band whilst Valenti's Rhythm Kings would probably be Boy Masaka's band of the time. The band names are modified for the American label.

Update: photos of the labels from the original Troubadour compilation LP - suspect it was 1966 or 67? (Chris).


Friday 17 September 2010

Spokes Mashiyane's sax lays down mbaqanga roots

Part two of this one-two sees Spokes Mashiyane explore a wider range of possibilities with his saxophone in mapping out what was to become mbaqanga.

Play any South African the first few bars of 'Emafini", and no matter where they are, they will recognise the "source" – add in the the still jazz-rooted uptempo mbaqanga bassline, the ocassionally soloing rhythm guitar, and the essential ingredients are set.

So – how about it you good folk with old 78 recordings kicking around in your collections? Electric Jive would be very happy to make everybody happy by sharing them here?!

The 78rpm hisses on this recording have been "tidied up" with Click Repair.

Emafini - GB 2962
Pretoria - GB 2962

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Thursday 16 September 2010

Spokes Mashiyane on 78rpm

Every now and then record digging in Durban turns up some rarities that convince you to keep on perservering. In addition to the last two posts on Electric Jive, a pile of five shellac 78rpm’s found their way to me from an older person who was leaving the big city for a small house in a small rural town - just could not afford big city life anymore. Herewith a quick-fire one-two of Spokes Mashiyane recordings done on the “New Sound” label. ClickRepair has been used to tidy up the standard hiss one gets from these old 78s.

Spokes Mashiyane and his All-Star flutes is more in the mould of the traditional banjo and flute kwela music that was so popular in the late 50s and early 60s. The third song offered today. “Bo Joang Joala” is a combination of pennywhistle and banjo backing to a more mbaqanga-oriented vocal platform for male and female voice, replete with great ululating. The “B” side of this particular recording “Qo Petsa” is unfortunately damaged. The surface is not scratched or visibly impaired, and no matter how much careful cleaning, the sound still comes out muffled and inconsistent. I can only conclude that it was an “off” pressing?

Tomorrow’s offering takes Spokes into saxophone territory.

Spokes Mashiyane and His All Star Flutes
The Last Sixpence - GB 2964A
Banjo Special - GB 2964B

Spokes Mashiyane and His All Stars
Bo Joang Joala GB 2941B
Qo Petsa GB2941A - damaged

Rapidshare here and here
Mediafire here and here

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Something New in Africa: Pennywhistle kwela at the dawn of jive

Another important addition to the growing archive of late fifties pennywhistle and emerging jive compilations.

Not the ‘commonly known' version of “something new” here – the Solven Whistlers open the set with a languid, clarinet-accompanied recording of their popular pennywhistle classic.

According to music researcher Lara Allen, this 1957 LP was the first release of a black South African music on 33rpm LP - because it was aimed at white audiences. It also feature visiting American clarinetist Tony Scott. (Kwela's White Audiences, in :"Decomposing Apartheid"; 2008; Wits University Press).

Many mbaqanga songs in the sixties and the seventies were introduced with an almost vaudeville-like nonsense dialogue. Kwela Bafana is an early example of the “Basement Boys” introducing their song in Afrikaans, referencing the emerging popularity of the saxophone: “Where are you going my brothers? We are going with other men who play saxophone, and we will play the flutes.. and I don’t know what will go for what … Kwela Bafana!. The Six Lads introduce slide guitar into their songs, along with a little yodelling, while the Basement Boys explore a ska-driven whistling number in Upstairs Jump.

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Saturday 11 September 2010

'Music Was Born in Africa': Jazz Compilation (1956)

If you liked our previous postings of fifties South African jazz compilations here and here, you are going to love this one.

“Music was born in Africa” is a 1956 South African release aimed at “our tourist friends who are taking this record back as a souvenir from Africa”. Much of the text may be patronising but the music sure is something special – more so as my favourite, Martha Mdenge crops up again.

“All these recordings were made by TRUTONE during 1956. Most were recorded for commercial release, but some were completely impromptu performances recorded almost by accident. Such a recording was “TENDERLEY”. It happened while the pianist was amusing himself with this tune during a break in the recording session. Thandi just walked to the piano and began to sing. It is obvious that she had never rehearsed the song, hence the unimportant mistakes in the words but a good memory and natural musicianship saw her through.

“Martha Mdenge’s “TELL ME HOW LONG THE TRAIN’S BEEN GONE” was an impromptu performance too, The recording engineers were experimenting with an artificial echo device at the time and this will explain the dialogue at the start of the take. Towards the end the appreciative whistles of the African Musical Director can be heard in the background.” (from the back cover).

Like the earlier “Jazz from the Township” posting the Harmony Crotchets form the backbone to showcase the likes of Ace Buya, Martin Stanford and Thandi Mpanbani. Ben Sach Masinga does a great baritone version of “Dinah” and swings on Bana Bana.

For the penny whistlers there is an outstanding blues track from Peter Makana – perhaps my favourite on this whole album. Enjoy!

1. Mbube .. leading into Music was Born in Africa - Thandi Mpanbani with Ben Masinga
2. Dinah - Ben Masinga
3. Waye Tshilo - African Mills Brothers
4. Lindiwe - Ace Buya and Harmony Crotchets
5. Peter's Blues - Peter Makana
6. Dubula Mfana - Martin Stanford with Thandi Mpanbani and Harmony Crotchets
7. Bana Bana - Ben Masinga
8. Tenderley - Thandi Mpanbani
9. Sondela - Martha Mdenge and Harmony Crotchets
10. Khala Zo'me - Royal Players
11. Notemba - Ace Buya and Harmony Crotchets
12. Tell me how long the train's been gone - Martha Mdenge and Harmony Crotchets

Rapidshare download link here
Mediafire download link here

There is another more recent South African album with the name "Music Was Born in Africa". Blind mbaqanga singer Babsy Mlangeni put together a heartfelt synth-oriented 1983 offering. Except for the title however, there is not much to compare to the 1956 gem featuring Thandi Mpanbani. Judge for yourself - the title song of Mlangeni's album can be downloaded here (rs) and here (mf).

Wednesday 8 September 2010


Julian Bahula found himself in London in the early seventies as part of the South African afro-rock group (African) Hawk. As one of the first "mixed race" rock bands Hawk had drawn more than enough attention to themselves back in South Africa and an attempt to break into London seemed like a sensible and logical step. A full story of what transpired is contained in the sleevenotes for the reissue of the 1973 album by Retrofresh here. There is not much happiness on the faces of Hawk in the promo shot for the UK's Melody Maker in 1973 above.

Hawk fell apart but Julian Bahula began working with a number of African and European musicians eventually as the leader of the group Jabula (which means Happiness). The album we share with you today is the debut from 1975 of the group and it also features Busi Mhlongo on vocals. A full discography is available at Wall of Sound. In the late seventies and through the eighties Julian became a tireless promoter of African music in London at venues such as the 100 Club. Check his personal web-site here.

Jabula- Jabula (1975, Virgin)
1. Jabula Happiness
2. Baile – They Are Gone
3. Listen To Me Crying
4. Naledi
5. Badishi – Herdboys
6. Thandi
7. Siakala – We Are Sad
8. Our Fathers
9. Let Us Be Free

Jabula outside the 100 Club in Oxford St, London circa 1975
Musicians on the album include:
Vicky Busiswe Mhlongo (vocals)
Maureen Koto Lembede (backing vocals)
Dudu Pukwana (sax)
Eddie Quansah (trumpet)
Geroge Larnyoh (sax & flute)
Peter Van Der Puije (baritone sax)
Ken Eley (sax)
Jean Alain Roussel (keyboards)
Madumetja Ranku (guitar & percussion)
Mogotsi Mothle (bass)
Graham Morgan (drums & percussion)
Sebothane Bahula (african drums & percussion)
Willy Cheetham (congas & percussion)


Sunday 5 September 2010

Tower Special

Herewith a great compilation LP of singles produced by David Thekwane. The stand out track is Bump Jive No 6, where a slow build up introduces all members of the legendary group The Movers. Otherwise more bump, soul and groove from the mid seventies.

The Tower is in question is the Hillbrow Tower, which at 260m it is the tallest structure on the African Continent. Work began on the tower in June 1968 and was completed in April 1971. It was closed in 1981 for "security" reasons but before that it was one of the biggest tourist attractions in Johannesburg with six public floors at the top housing a revolving restaurant (Heinrich's) and another non-rotating restaurant simply known as the Grill Room. As with many other public attractions during the height of apartheid entry was restricted to those classified as white.

Tower Special - Various Artists (Love Love, LVL2002, 1975)
1. Tower Special Part 1 - The Big Brothers
2. Tower Special Part 2 - The Big Brothers
3. Dimakatso - The Black Five
4. Lady Soul Part 1 - The Big Brothers
5. Lady Soul Part 2 - The Big Brothers
6. Baby Its Late - The Soul Throbs
7. Bump Jive No 6 Part 1 - The Movers
8. Bump Jive No 6 Part 2 - The Movers
9. Change My Love Part 1 - The Movers
10. Change My Love Part 2 - The Movers
11. Believe I Love You - The Soul Throbs
12. Dekeledi - The Black Five
Produced by David Thekwane


Friday 3 September 2010

Beer makes us randy – say Mahlatini and Amaswazi Emvelo (1985)

Amaswazi Emvelo were perhaps the last “greats” to come out of the famous Mavuthela mbaqanga stable. Led by Meshack Mkwananzi, this SiSwati vocal group features on all the great 80s international compilation albums – including on all three volumes of “The Indestructible Beat of Soweto”.

After their eigth album, Mahlatini Nkabinde approached Amaswazi in the mid 1980s and together they produced two highly successful collaborations. Today’s offering is from 1985.

Here at Electric Jive we are mindful not to share music that can still be legitimately purchased. In this case we are making a small exception with good reason. “Get these while you can.”

Before he “left” or “retired” as Gallo Music’s archivist, Rob Allingham did a great job in re-mastering and re-issuing a heap of important South African music on CD. In the case of Amaswazi Emvelo, Rob did the "right thing" in re-issuing ten Amaswazi Emvelo albums onto CD.

This is a heads up to those of you who love this music – you can still buy these albums from Kalahari at really low prices – ZAR 39.85 (less than $6 U.S.) – have a look here.
Amaswazi Emvelo & Mahlatini - Utshwala Begazati BL509

Recorded on 27th June 1985. Produced by West Nkosi. Engineered by David Segal.

1. Utshwala Begazati (This beer makes me randy)
2. Musani Ukungithunuka (Don’t remind me of sensitive matters)
3. Siwuhambile Umhlaba (We have been all over the place)
4. Nkosi Yami Ngihawukele (My Lord, forgive me)
5. Shwele Shwele (Greetings / Apologies – done respectfully with waving hands – see cover)
6. Zangiluma Izinja (The dogs bit him)
7. I’Ndaba Zomndeni (Family News)
8. Mus’Ukudlala Ngomsebenzi (Don’t Play with your job)

Rapidshare download here
Mediafire download here (apologies for the incorrect link - it is now fixed)

Thanks to Gugu Mtolo for assistance with the translations.

As an added "SPRING" bonus – herewith a mix of eight songs from Amaswazi Emvelo seven singles, some of which will not be found on the Gallo re-issues.

1. Thul'Ulalele (Keep quiet and listen) XED4058 B (1980)
2. Thoko Udlalelani Ngo Jabu (Thoko why are you playing with Jabu?) XED 4090 (1982)
3. Kwa Mntanami Waya Waya (Our children are scattered) XED 4087 (1982)
4. Yebo Dlozi Yami (Yes to my traditions) XED 4058 B (1980)
5. Mkhuzeni (Stop him doing something wrong) (XED 4087 (1982)
6. Nantsi Lentombi (There's the girl) 4079 B (1982)
7. Sewuyahamba Uyangishiya (You are going and leaving me behind) XED 4079 A (1982)
8. Ukulunga Kwami (A good host) XED 4090 (1982)

Electric Jive Bonus Amaswazi Emvelo Mix
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