Wednesday 9 February 2011

Soul Bandit: Almon Memela’s Stragglers (1969)

As promised, here is the entire 1969 album from South African guitarist and trendsetter, Almon Sandisa Memela. Born in Donnybrook in 1936 Memela was a musician’s musician playing, arranging and composing a diversity of great music from the 1950s through to the 1980s. Amongst many others, he played guitar for Miriam Makeba and the Skylarks in the 1950s and composed the hit song ‘Banoyi’ sung by Letta Mbulu on her 1967 album Free Soul. He went on to become a producer and talent scout in the 1970s.

Almon Memela, Lemmy Special, Jeremy Taylor jamming
at Suzie's Shebeen in the early 1960s
from Jim Bailey's African Photo Archive
A bonus download is included of Almon Memela’s Jazz 8 tracks from 1972 and again in 1977 when he played the Swaziland Linkundla Festival – both of which are jazzier mbaqanga-influenced offerings than today’s main course of African sixtie's soul. His 1979 recording “Funky Africa” is much sought after by collectors.

Soul Bandits is one of those albums that, when played out of context, has confused lovers of 60s northern soul. For example – Canadian blogger Shindiggit gives a pretty snappy description of a Soul Bandit seven-single he dug-up at a record fair in Ontario a few years ago:

"Sometimes you get one of those records which just grabs you by the face and smacks you back into your chair. The A-side of this track (Soul Bandit) is like that for me. Imagine Soul Finger by the Bar-Kays thrown into a blender with Champ by the Mohawks.....Soul Bandit is THAT bastard child. This horns & organ infused floorsmasher is basically one of the funnest singles I own. The B-Side is a little slower, going for a bluesier vibe, however is still horns & organ drenched and pretty damned classic in it's own right.

The odd thing about this single is that I can find nothing...let me repeat...NOTHING, not even a passing mention as to whom this band was or any info on this single. I'm no soul detective, but I figure it's a studio band like the Mohawks. The label smacks of Britishness and oddly the catalogue number is L.1. Maybe this was a one off single? Any way it goes, I would LOVE to hear if anyone has any info on this band AND the single itself...Little Giant has been a record label in many guises over the years but I think this is a private label and not directly connected to any of the others I've seen.”

Do give this album a listen, it grows on you! If you prefer the more African-jazz oriented stuff, you can hear excerpts of some 78s of Almon Memela from Chris Ballantine’s collection here.

Soul Bandit: A.M. Stragglers
Mediafire here
Rapidshare here

Almon Memela's Jazz 8
Rapidshare here
Mediafire here


  1. This is soooo fantastic. Thanks!!

  2. Thank you folks at Electric Jive~ always a source of knowledge and joy~!


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