Thursday 23 December 2010

Holiday Special

As 2010 draws to a close its time for a special treat - a rarely seen Barney Rachabane outing with instrumental soul band the Sound Proofs. Just five tracks with the title stretched over the first side. This one pre-dates our earlier Sweet Matara offering from 1976.

And from me - Dabulamanzi - all the very best for 2011. We'll keep the electricity flowing and you just keep on jiving!

Barney Rachabane and the Sound Proofs - Special Ma-Ma (1975, SSL0108)
1. Special Ma-Ma 13:14
2. Lovely Betty 4:15
3. Sunday Special 5:07
4. Crazy Boy 5:23

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Electric Jive Office Party Mix 2010

An upbeat mix of South African (from 1950s, 60s and 70s) mbaqanga, funk, ska and jazz in celebration of the annual ‘office party’ here in Durban. Slipped into this hour-long continuous assortment is a number of tracks from 78rpm records recently added to a small collection.

Mkhumbane in Durban (1956) by G.R. Naidoo
After a fine mbaqanga-esque introduction from 70s cult radio persona, ‘Wouter Marais’, we kick off with classic mbaqanga from Jospeh Makwela and his Comrades – same personnel as the legendary Makgona Tsohle band, plus West Nkosi on lead saxophone. Next up is a teaser from a second Izintombi Zomoya album we hope to share with you in the new year.

The mix changes gear into another sneak preview, this time Almon Memela’s simply sublime A.M. Stragglers. The album “Soul Bandit” was recorded in 1969. After Dick Khoza’s fantastic “African Jive” ("Chapita" on special offer at Matsuli) the dancefloor slants back towards mbaqanga, landing up with two recently found tracks on 78rpm from the Killingstone Stars. The Makhona Zonke band get us jiving before Kippie Moeketsi pops up, clarinet in hand.

On the home straight we embark upon a few 78rpm cultural warps, which if we must be honest, are quite easily accommodated in South African music (today is the national day of reconciliation) … Niek Potgieter and his konsertina doing an Elvis cover; Ted Heath and His Music versioning “Sarie Marais” into a rendition of “Tom Hark”, followed by Louis Armstrong’s joyful (instrumental) ‘Skokiaan’. The last track in this offering is the only one recorded after the 1970s, but serves as a great “book-end”.

Not too long ago I had the pleasure of experiencing Guy Buttery and Madala Kunene play an inspiring set – Durban is still blessed with some special people and musicians. “Sibanisizwe” comes off Guy’s recent album “Foxhill Lane” – it won the 2010 SAMA Award for best instrumental album. 
Guy Buttery's Album
Contact Guy here and he will post you one – you won’t be sorry.

Electricjive Durban Office Party 2010

1. Intro – from Wouter Marais’ Totally Ridiculous
2. Matamato Jive Matamato - JOSEPH MAKWELA & HIS COMRADES
3. Tlapa Le Wela Bodiben - JOSEPH MAKWELA & HIS COMRADES (1967)
4. Esandleni Sokhoho – IZINITOMBI ZOMOYA (1977)
5. Fully Licensed – A.M. STRAGGLERS
6. Blue Pumps – A.M. STRAGGLERS (1969)
7. Easy – ELITE SWINGSTERS (1968?)
8. African Jive (Moto) – DICK KHOZA (1976)
9. Respect is Important – REGGIE MSOMI (1976)
10. Sunlight Soap Ad – MVN STUDIOS
12. Lalela Mntanami – THE KILLINGSTONE STARS
13. Phata Six – MAKHONE ZONKE BAND (1979)
16. Hart van Steen (Wooden Heart) – NIEK POTGIETER EN SY KONSERTINA
18. Skokiaan – LOUIS ARMSTRONG
19. My Boy Lollipop – ELITE SWINGSTERS
20. Suikerbossie – STAN MURRAY (1975)
21. Sibanisezwe – GUY BUTTERY (2010)


Sunday 12 December 2010

Keep on Moving

A very special treat today of what was know as Soweto Soul, inspired by the likes of Brooker T & the MGs, Richard Groove Holmes and Jimmy Smith amongst others. In a career that lasted over ten years the Movers were incredible prolific and managed to straddle this early Soweto Soul genre, to bump jive, jazz and then disco. Their take on Abdullah Ibrahim's Mannenberg is an interesting excursion which we will share with you shortly.

About last June, The Soul Group now know as "The Movers" was formed in Alexandra by Kenneth Siphayi (know to this friends as Kenny). This is how it happened - a youngester called Oupa Hlongwane and his brother Norman (both guitarists) approached Kenny. They got together with drummer, Sam Thabo, and Kenny's friend Sankie Chonuyane the organist ... and now we have the successful sound of "The Movers". Shortly after launching of the spaceship "Apollo 11" the group recorded the hit single "Apollo 14", and so great became the demand for their records that top hits were collected into a great LP - "Movers Greatest Hits". Since then there has been a clamour for more "Movers" - and now - "Movers Greatest Hits Volume 2".- from the original liner notes.

The Movers - Greatest Hits Vol 2 (CYL 1004, 1970)
1. Back From the Moon
2. Love Me Not
3. The Best of Away
4. Toasted Chops
5. Mountain Breeze
6. Slow Down
7. Soul Crazy
8. Norman's Road
9. Lets Have It
10. Move for More
11. Crying Guitar
12. Beat Corner

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Elite Swingsters groove the "Funky Mama"

A special offering today – funky township grooving meets American soul-jazz in a most successful manner. And “that’s not all!” … this album throws in a generous sprinkling of sumptuous ska with a township twist. Stand back John Patton, it is for good reason that “Funky Mama” became an international hit for the Elite Swingsters. Their version of “Green Onions” isn’t half bad either.

Band leader and main composer Peter Mokonotela remains recognised as among the best saxophonists that South Africa has produced. He died of a stroke in May 2005.

Formed in 1958 the Elite Swingsters were a prolific hit-factory, at least until mbaqanga captured their target market’s music fashion sensibilities. “Funky Mama” was only the Swingsters’ third album, and was most likely produced before Dolly Rathebe joined them in 1964. (there is no date on the album and a discography cannot be found). See here for more on Dolly Rathebe.

“The Elites were first brought together in 1958 as a once-off combination of session musicians hired by Teal Record Company to record four songs for release as 78rpm singles on their RCA label. A Teal executive, Herbert Friedman, decided to issue the records using the name ’Elite Swingsters'. Rather unexpectedly, one of the four recordings, a tune called ‘Phalafafa' which had been composed for the session by the company’s African producer/talent scout, Lebenya Matlotlo, became an enormous hit. The musicians then decided to form a permanent band to capitalize on the success of ‘Phalafala' and adopted the Elite Swingsters moniker by way of advertisement.

“For the next ten or so years, the Elites were one of the most popular attractions in African music. Dubbed ‘The Magnificent Seven' by their township admirers, the band maintained an active performing profile that was centred around Johannesburg, the Vaal Triangle and down into the Orange Free State to Bloemfontein. The Elites also regularly toured Natal and the Eastern Cape under the auspices of the ‘Batfairs' sponsored by United Tobacco Company.

“The regular core of the Elite Swingsters' classic lineup consisted of the leader and string bass player, Johannes '‘Hooks'’Tshukudu, drummer Louis Molubi, Rex Ntuli on guitar, Jordan Bangazi on trumpet and Paul Rametsi on tenor sax. The two man alto saxophone section changed around more frequently and at various times used the following players: Jury Mpehlo, Chris Songxaka, Tami Madi, Shumi, Peter Mokonotela, Albert Ralulimi and Mike Selelo. Other musicians who sometimes formed part of the lineup were Elijah Nkwanyane and Johnny Selelo on trumpet, Blyth Mbitjana on trombone, Chris Columbus on baritone, and Dolly Rathebe on vocals." Excerpt from
As mbaqanga took hold and the original Elite Swingsters got older, injured, and tired of touring full-time they took on day jobs but kept playing gigs on the weekends, and still produced some hits in the 70s.

In the 1990s the Swingsters were reconstituted, including with original members Dolly Rathebe, Paul Ntleru (bass) Daniel Ngema (piano/sax/accordion) and Philip Mbele (keyboards) and delivered two successful CD’s – Woza and A Call for Peace. These and some other Elite’s recordings can still be found at Kalahari and elsewhere.

Produced and arranged by Chris Du Toit – Afrikaans master guitarist who you will hear more of on Electric Jive sometime soon. Du Toit composed two songs on this album: ‘Elite Ska’ and ‘Easy’.

We are looking for the two earlier known LP’s by the Swingsters: TEAL TL 1037 – “Happy Africa”; and R.C.A. 31-718 – “The Elite Swingsters Go Jazz”. Anyone?

Rapidshare here
Mediafire here

Thursday 2 December 2010

Le Royaume Mangalepa

Today a re-posting of a wonderful lingala album that first appeared at matsuli. Enjoy!

"Based in Nairobi, Les Mangalepa are sovereigns in their own musical kingdom 'Le Royaume Mangalepa' - which extends far beyond Kenya to encompass Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia and DR Congo (ex-Zaïre).

"The story of Les Mangalepa starts in the 1960s when, as members of Baba Gaston’s band in Lubumbashi, they led the migration of musicians out of Zaïre and into Eastern Africa, via Tanzania and on to Nairobi. Striking out on their own, they played their first gig as Les Mangalepa at the Park Inn, Nairobi, in July,1976.

"The name was corrupted from the French ‘Marquez le Pas’ meaning 'marching time', in which they parodied the army style, laying down an irresistible beat, which became the stylistic expression for their ever-growing 'marching army' of fans. The songs in this collection are taken from the period when Les Mangelepa were in their full pomp. They conjure memories of a golden period of East African music when the crowds flocked to Uhuru Park, Garden Square, Tents Club and Park Inn. Those coming to the floor for the first time can anticipate a sense of surprise at the joy and vitality of these recordings."

"This LP had been sitting, dusty and undisturbed for at least 10 years before being rescued from the humidity, dust and heat of a warehouse in Durban. Previously we'd had a number of ideas as to the origins of the Sango label and no-one seems quite sure about its origin or history. The best guess so far is that it was an "export" only label for countries such as Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa." (MATSULI)
"The second part of the Sango story is as a late 1970s-early 1980s label of convenience for East African records from the ASL, African Beat and Polydor catalogues that were evidently pressed up for export, many retaining their original catalogue numbers for those labels." (Tim at KenTanzaVinyl)

Orchestra Mangelepa - Live Recording of the Malawi Tour (Sango, ASLP 921, 1980)
1. Ole Pts 1 & 2
2. Saad Pts 1 & 2
3. Malawi Zikomo Pts 1 & 2
4. Kanemo Pts 1 & 2

Friday 26 November 2010

Izintombi Zomoya blow hot (1973)

November rounds off with a special marabi-flavoured mbaqanga female vocal treat from 1973. Listening to this great album, I am left wondering what factors, other than great voices and muscial ability, meant that some South African female vocal groups briefly burnt bright, while some others endured. I am just sorry this bunch did not last much, much longer.

The “Girls of the Wind” deliver velvet under-stated harmonies in swaying sync to the Zwino Zwino Rhythm Boys. If you like the Dark City Sisters and that sort of music you are going to fall in love with this gem.

While West Nkosi compiled this album, Rupert Bopape is acknowledged as “the man” who guided Thandi Nkosi’s group to a Mavuthela contract and stardom. Bopape and Shadrach Pilliso team up to write three of the songs, while the ‘Izinitombi’ members, provide the bulk.

“The organ, the lead guitar and the bass guitar provide lovely phrases that bring marabi to your doorstep. And if you feel like jumping up and doing your thing just remember you have the sweet voices of the girls to listen to”. (from the cover).

Vocalists: Thandi Nkosi, Peter Phalime, Maria Moriri, Caroline Kapenter, Felicity Masondo, Sylvia Dlamini, Eunice Simelane and Thandi Mazibuko.

The rhythm boys:
Sam Marubini Jagome – lead guitar
Stephen Mukwebo – rhythm guitar
James Mukwebo – bass guitar
Edward Ndzeru – drums.

Rapidshare: here
Mediafire: here

Saturday 20 November 2010

The Best Laid Plans of Saul Malapane

An absolutely incredible album from Saul Malapane and I suspect members of the seminal mid 70s jazz group The Drive (more from them soon!). Just three long tracks that Saul was asked to compose by John Higgins, the producer and director of the 1975 stage production of Of Mice and Men.

Saul Malapane was born in Warmbaths in 1943 and moved to Johannesburg in 1965 to earn a living. He worked as a gardener and did occasional house painting for extra income. One employer gave him a guitar as a Christmas present and encouraged him to take up music. He took some lessons with Gilbert Stroud and joined the group The Drive, who used Stroud's premises to practice.

The stage show in Johannesburg caused a stir in the newspapers and internationally as the black actor Ken Gampu had to be given permission by the department of Bantu Administration to appear on stage with white actors. "For the first time, the black man was on an equal footing with the white man," he told an interviewer. "And you know, the heavens didn't fall."

Saul was also responsible for the killer track Here We Come on Rough Trade's Soweto LP


Wednesday 17 November 2010

Bud Shank in Africa (1958)

A top-flight albeit white American West Coast Jazz outfit records an album in Johannesburg in April 1958 - including an extended tribute track to the African Penny Whistle? So, my education continues.

A bunch of students at the University of Natal (The Rag Committee) were doing their annual chairty fundraising drive and somehow persuaded Shank, Claude Williams, Don Prell and Jimmy Pratt to tour South Africa. Concerts were played in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. Students Peter Colombine and David Gordon had succeded where professional promoters had failed.
While they were no plans to record, South African fans succesfully urged them to record. Shank called Pacific Jazz in Los Angeles to see if they would pay for an album. Pacific Jazz did not. The South Africans  raised the money, and on 23rd April the quartet found themselves in what "was described as a studio".

While on tour Bud Shank was given a pennywhistle as a gift, and so it was that the record's producers pressed him for a pennywhistle number to honor African music. Bop pianist Williamson was presented with  a thumb piano, Pratt a West African  drum and Prell a Nigerian bamboo harp. The result was A TRIBUTE TO THE AFRICAN PENNYWHISTLE.

The cover photograph of the album - only issued in South Africa - was produced by celebrated South African photographer Peter Magubane who was working at Drum Magazine at the time.

Shank is quoted here as saying of the Pennywhistle tribute:
"I just made up something. It was a blues. The stupid pennywhistle ended up, as I remember, in the key of A-flat, by accident, because nobody down there ever played a pennywhistle with anything other than just a rhythm section, not another keyed instrument. I learned how to play the damn thing while I was making this record. When I first start playing it, I'm squeaking and very tentative and as it goes along, after about 20 choruses, I begin to figure it out."

Jazz Profiles continues: "Goofy as the assignment may have been, the performance has a good deal of charm and Shank seems to take modified pride in having subdued and adapted an instrument not remotely suitable for jazz improvisation. The band returned to their customary instruments for the other six tunes, which include three impressive Shank compositions, CHARITY RAG, MISTY EYES and WALTZIN' THE BLUES AWAY."

The album was later released on some obscure European labels, (some of them pirates). It was relased on the Flamingo Jazz series in the UK in 1961. It was re-lreleased in 1989 on CD on a German label. As far as we can see, all of these are now out of print. Budd shank died in April 2009 at the age of 82.

Rapidshare here
Mediafire here

Sunday 14 November 2010

Orchestra Manga Kings - Swahili Hits (1977)

Coming back to Electric Jive land from Ghana via Lake Victoria and this snappy and sweet bunch of Swahili Hits - with the record pressed in Johannesburg for the Lake Victoria Label.

Doug Paterson outlines Kenyan styles of music from this era: "Although the melodies, languages, and rhythms may vary from song to song, one of the common traits ... is the preeminence of the guitars. They weave their way through the vocal portion, meshing with the melodic line or answering it and, nearly always, they finish out the last minute or two with some ear-catching solo jam."

Doug's excellent overview of Kenyan pop can be found here. Some more info on the Lake Victoria record label can be found here.

Rapidshare here
Mediafire here

Friday 12 November 2010

Highlife 'n' Piano

Something quite different today. This is from the same batch of Ghanaian LPs some of which were shared earlier at electricjive. Aside from the sleevenotes on the back cover not much more information has been forthcoming and so, without a deeper context, we invite you to have a listen and tell us what you think or to fill in the gaps for our readers.


Friday 5 November 2010

Jika Sikiza Jiving with the Indoda Band

 Seven-piece instrumental jazz 'n jive (1976) produced by Roxy Buthelezi  provides a pleasant surprise. The horns, keyboard and guitar arrangements give a sense of relationship to better known recordings such as Sikiza Matshikiza and some of the Movers. The album also contains some fine accordion-driven mbaqanga, as in the track Lobambo; and saxophone-led Four-Way Stop.

There is no information about band members available. Anyone recognise the artists on the cover? All songs except for Lobambo (Khanyile/Pootuna) are credited to the producer, Roxy "Black Cat" Buthelezi. Buthelezi produced and worked closely with Engineer Owen Wolf with various bands, including The Additions; Venanda Lovely Boys and the Mthembu Queens. Buthelezi was also an announcer on the "Bantu" service of the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
Rapidshare here
Mediafire here

Monday 1 November 2010

Spirits Rejoice do disco funky with City Soul

Its true, Duke Makasi, Robbie Janssen and Mervin Afrika of Spirits Rejoice cut a disco album with Julian Laxton and some others in the same year (1977) they produced their cult-status Afro-Jazz Fusion "African Spaces". A pretty funky effort at what they call "disco-jazz" it is too!

Producer Patrick  Van Blerk had this "Soul of the City" thing going in the mid seventies, bringing together trop-drawer black and white South African recording artists to produce rather interesting hybrid sounds. So far EJ has knowledge of two albums and one additional song on a compilation - all of which we share with you today.

 In his 1975 "Soul of the City" offering, the African jazz oriented "Diagonal Street Blues" boasts Kippie Moeketsi (alto sax), Mike Makhalemele (tenor sax); Themba Mehlomakulu (trumpet) Trevor Rabin (guitar); Kevin Kruger (drums) Malcolm Watson (guitar).

"THE SOUL OF THE CITY were born out of JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, and reflect the music and feelings of "Egoli" - the City of Gold. ... Get down and feel the soul of the city; the warmth, energy, love, violence, rhythm, gold, soul, hate and passion; THE SOUL OF THE CITY". (from the 1975 back cover).

In the 1977 "disco-jazz" offering, "Dazz", we have two extended tracks totalling just over twenty nine minutes of 70s looping dance-floor disco that just begs and deserves to be played for an "up-for-it" audience again. The line-up includes three core members from Spirits Rejoice along with Julian Laxton (guitar); Neil Cloud (drums); John  Galanakis (keyboards); Rene Veldsman (vocals); Frankie  Gibb (vocals). The album notes give a "very special credit: To the wonderful Spirits Rejoice for joining the Jo'Burg Records Family. Welcome!".

It was perhaps a sign of the times that artists spent a lot of time in the studios in the mid seventies - thrown together in various combinations  - and less on the road playing concerts as specific bands with a set membership. In the same year (1977) Duke Makasi and Kippie Moeketsi teamed up with Pat Matshikiza, and two other Spirits Rejoice members, Sipho Gumede and Gilbert Matthews to record "Blue Stompin" with Hal Singer on Rashid Vally's As-Shams label.

A bonus track from Soul of the City project is "Hustle Bump" off a "Super Jazz" (Vol 2) collection.

Enjoy the upbeat diversity produced by a bunch of creative South Africans pushing all sorts of boundaries in mid-seventies Johannesburg! If anyone has other recordings of the "Soul of the City" adventure, please do let us know.
Dazz: Rapidshare here; Mediafire here
City Soul: Rapidshare here; Mediafire here
Hustle Bump! Rapidshare here; Mediafire here

Thursday 28 October 2010

Seventies Sax and Accordion Jive Hits

Some strong mbaqanga and jive by label-loyal Johannesburg based seventies bands. The Jive Boys, The Highway Boys and The Naledi Boys all released multiple seven singles on the Soweto label over this period. This 1976 compilation also features two bands new to Electric Jive - Kwa Thema Boys and Badisana .
The track Gerty's Joint stands out for it's soul-funk keyboard and guitar riffs.

Rapidshare here
Mediafire here

Monday 25 October 2010

Ngane and Khamba: Amashoba - Zulu 'traditional' (1985)

Ngane Ziyamfisa and Khamba Lomovaleliso have been recording with Gallo GRC since 1982. Their albums have all sold consistently well from that date, with the biggest sellers being “Yiyolethombi”, “Laduma” and “Amathambo enKomo Yami”. Richard Siluma has produced all the Ngane and Khamba, however this is the first album that he not only produced, engineered and arranged but also sang backing vocals with the group. Ngane and Khamba has always performed typical traditional Zulu songs, which are now currently gaining international recognition. (From the liner notes).

“ amaShoba” are cow tails worn on the upper arms and below the knees of Zulu warriors.

Thanks to Martin in the Netherlands for sharing these tracks.
Rapidshare here
Mediafire fixed link here

Friday 22 October 2010

Sea Water: minimal mbaqanga (1972)

Alfred Mthabane Ndima's track "Sea Water" appears on Nick Lotay's classic Mavuthela compilation shared on Matsuli during 2009. This album features Ndima with a session band playing "Sea Water" and eleven other tracks written by Tom Vuma. Most tracks are all more than decent 'stripped down'  instrumental mbaqanga samples - electric guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and sometimes accordion - just waiting for a trio of singers and saxophones to fill it all out. The guitarist sounds suspiciously good enough to be Marks Mankwane.

Rapidshare here
Mediafire here

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Hokoyo! Hot Sounds from Harare

These were different times. A sense of optimism midst daily struggles and a nation still drunk with liberty. Blistering dancefloor pop in any language. That spoke too. Still speaks. So enjoy this time capsule from the past that keeps us from forgetting what can be possible. These were compiled by Matsuli reader Muvimi who spent time teaching in Zimbabwe in the early part of the 80s.

Harare Hit Parade 1: 1980-81
01. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits- Africa
02. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Cheka Hukama
03. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Madzongo Nyedze
04. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Seiko
05. Elijah Madzikatire and Ocean City Band – Very Sorry
06. Elijah Madzikatire and Ocean City Band – Gukura Hundi
07. Devera Ngwena Jazz Band – Zhimozhzhi
08. Devera Ngwena Jazz Band – Barba Mwana Wakanaka
09. Devera Ngwena Jazz Band – Ruva Remoyo Wangu
10. Job Mashanda and the Muddy face – Zuva Rakabuda
11. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Shanje
12. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Reura
13. Zexie Manatsa and the Green Arrows – Chivaraidze
14. Zexie Manatsa and the Green Arrows – Tambayi Makachenjera

Saturday 16 October 2010

Kwela’s diverse attractions and identities

Kwela music managed to reach across racial and cultural boundaries a lot more than most other South African music forms have in the last fifty years. It also evolved to be played by different musicians for different audiences. In the stream of morphing styles, Kwela drew on American swing and local marabi, and formed the future of what was saxophone jive, electric jive and mbaqanga. Kwela music also had roots and strong resonances with Afrikaans folk music.

Any contemporary vinyl collector in South Africa cannot help but be struck by the huge diversity of kwela music that can still be found. In a 2008 chapter "Kwela's White Audiences" in the book “Composing Apartheid” (Wits University Press) music researcher Lara Allen asks why it was that, in the increasingly repressive period of the 1950s, Kwela music was “appreciated by a number of different identity groups that crossed the racial categories on which apartheid was premised”.

Allen goes on to argue that there were two broad groupings of white audiences - those “who consciously patronised the genre as a statement about their identity, and those who appreciated kwela for its ability to give them pleasure, usually as a dance music.”

Young white rock 'n' rollers as well as Indian youth – mostly in and around Johannesburg - in the late 1950s picked up on the Kwela craze, sometimes leading to racially separated groups of people dancing simultaneously to Spokes Mashiyane and his band playing at Zoo Lake on Sundays. Complaints resulted in the kwela bands being forced to move to another section in the park. Allen quotes from The World newspaper (30 August 1958) that “after the Africans had pleaded with them (the white fans) not to come dancing in the African section of the grounds as this would cause trouble with the authorities, the white teenagers left voluntarily”.

By 1963 the World (July 1st) reports: “A little distance from the gambling, cooking and praying set is reserved a patch of ground for Spokes Mashiyane and his band … He draws a regular crowd of Africans and Whites. There is jiving, twisting and all the latest dances from the townships. Police cars zoom past unconcerned.”

This blog post is a potted illustration of some of the "other" strands of Kwela music that emerged in South Africa. We wait for Lara Allen's forthcoming book to provide the full picture. Examples of "mainstream" Kwela have already been posted on this blog here and here and here and here and here.

Another strand in this rich history of Kwela is what is called the “coloured” musical culture with a form of music called quela that has boeremusiek vastrap and samba influences. An example of the roots of quela is the Madala Kwela (RS / MF), and Jubilee Vastrap (RS / MF) by Artie Davis and Nicky Parker’s Band.

A more recent Cape Jazz incorporation of Kwela is Robbie Jansen’s 1989 “Bo-Kaap Kwela” (RS / MF).

All of these different kwela’s became fairly quickly fused and confused. Certainly confusing to today’s audience would be this one - “Klopse Kwela”  (RS / MF) on the late 1950s album “Let’s Go Gay” by Charl Segal and his Rhythm. See the album cover picture above.

A good example of boeremusiek's incorporation of the pennywhistle and kwela is contained in this 1961 78rpm by Fred Wooldridge en Sy Pennie Fluitjie - the two tracks: "Bosveld Vastrap and Pennie Fluitjie Kwela" can be found here (RS / MF). This 78rpm recording was found in Windhoek earlier this month - it came from the estate of  a German family. It is a curiousity as to why this recording was issued on 78rpm in 1961, when, in 1958, labels such as Gallo and Decca succesfully released a 33rpm Kwela recording of the Solven Whistlers targeted at white audiences. Something New in Africa was the first black South African music released in the country on 33rpm LP.

Kwela music was also co-opted and used to narrate conservative images of “happy primitives”, while others weaved it into parodies and comedy (Al Debbo) that was at best narrow in its tolerance or appreciation of difference. Have a listen to Kwela Duffy and the fanagalo song. Download link at bottom of this post.

Kwela music was reinterpreted – with both rock ‘n’ rollers and boeremusiek fans “able to identify elements in kwela with their own music to dance their own dances to the new genre” … most (mis)recognised themselves in not seeing the subversive significances of their innocent identification. Allen concludes: "For the most part the politics of pleasure overrode the politics of identification, at least for kwela audiences … The conflicts and contradictions raised by musical appreciation across the race barrier, the confusion of resistance against racial segregation with youth rebellion, and the fusion of pleasure and identification, all suggest that some music was capable of decomposing apartheid even at its genesis”.

The word “kwela” also became used to mean “get in” or “get up” and was used by white policemen when they arrested black people without passes and telling them to get into the van. Hence, the retro-parody 2004 song by band Mafikizolo with Hugh Masekela – “Kwela Kwela”. (RS / MF)  "There are the police they are coming mother – kwela kwela”. The song goes on to say we are no longer afraid of the police, we will call Sisulu and Mandela to our defence.

Kwela with Duffy RS / MF