Sunday 27 October 2013

In Nairobi with Orchestra Maquis - Masua

At Electric Jive we love South African music. and since July 2009 we have slowly built up one of the more comprehensive references and archives of out of print (and unpublished) music produced in the country. But we also love our sojourns to styles and music from beyond the borders. One of the enduring styles that can be reliable turned to to bring a smile is that produced from Congolese bands that landed up in East Africa - based in Uganda, Tanzania or Kenya when work opportunities in the  Zaire were scarce. Like Abijan, Dar es Salam and Nairobi became hubs for bands willing to take up residency at hotels where one of their primary functions was to ensure high beer consumption. Often bands would play all night, or at the very least until the early hours of the mornings with multiple sets. Today's post celebrates Orchestre Maquis and their 1982 album Masua.

From the original sleeve notes:
Originally known as Orchestre Super Gabby, Orchestre Ma Quis Du Zaire was formed in 1963 in a town called Kamina in Zaire's Shaba province. The founding members of the group are: Tshinyama Katay, Tshimbuiza Tshinsense (Nhuza Viking), Mbuya Makonga (Adios), Tshibangu Katay, Ilunga Lubaba, Mutombo Lufungula. Mwema Mudjanga and Mwema wa Mwamba. Together they approached a businessman who ran a bar and restaurant and also owned musical instruments and after discussions it was agreed that they perform at the bar.

During the following six years of hard work they acquired enough money to purchase their own musical instruments. In 1971 the band's name was changed to Orchestre Maquis du Zaire and the following year, while on a tour of countries neighbouring Zaire, they decided to settle in Tanzania's capital of Dar es Salaam where they received a wonderful reception from musical lovers. The group now has a large following in Tanzania and through their company OMACO Limited they have purchased property including 154 acres of farmland.

Orchestre Ma Quis Du Zaires's popular music has been exposed through the airwaves on state-owned Radio Tanzania, but until recently not had the chance of being cut on discs to reach fans in neighbouring countries.

The group, which has thirty -six members (twenty eight musicians, thress stage show girls and five officials) finally made its first appearance in Nairobi at the beinging of May 1982 for recording sessions at the CBS studio Unfortunately they were unable to give live persfomances. They did however make some TV appearances.

CBS Records Kenyan Limited is the first record company ever to have signed a recording contract with Orchestre Marquis du Ziare. Following lengthy discussions, including a visit to their office in Dar es Salaam, OMACO's directors were finally convinced and assured CBS records could and would look after the group's interests better than any other record company - this through the tireless effort of CBS A&R manager FL Amaumo.

Special Thanks:
Godfrey ZImba for his unquestionable contribution, Tido Mhando for his company and sparing time until the late hours of the night at the border; Peter Bond for his encouragement during the trying time; Simon Ndesandjo and Peter Musaka for the role played during the session.

Thanks Zaire Embassy Officials, Anthony Kafwihi, John Okeyo, Sammy Oyando, James Kinyanjui, Noah Kamau, Charles Odhiambo of Solace Hotel, Osgood, Immigration and Customer Officials at Namanaga Border. Produced by Livingstone Amaumo, Recorded at CBS Records Kenya Studio Nairobi, Engineer George Fombe, Photographs: Maridadi Studio (front), Joeseph Odiyo (Back). Sleeve design by Avelino Fernandez

Side One: Masua Pt1&2 (Nguza Viking), Ngai Mwana Malole Pt1&2 (Kasongo Mpinda)
Side Two: Bondela Moninga Pt1&2 (Nguza Viking), Maggie Pt1&2 (Kikumnbi Mpango)
Printed by Top in Town Printing Works
(c) 1982 CBS Inc, (p) 1982 CBS Inc.


Sunday 20 October 2013

Greetings from Africa - Michael LBS and National Wake

Michael Lebese

South Africa's most influential punk band - National Wake - have just  released an anthology of their work through Light in the Attic records. Walk in Africa is a wonderful testament to the band and includes an in-depth essay from Punk in Africa director Keith Jones. Back in the early days of the Matsuli site I highlighted the band through three postings including the share of a recording that grey out of the National Wake family. That LP is credited to Michael LBS (aka Mike Lebese) and includes a number of songs that were part and parcel of the National Wake live catalogue.(Corner House, Going Away, and Sitting on the Beat)

The earliest line-up of National Wake including Paul Giraud and Mike Lebese

The album is a stepping stone of sorts, marking a place on the musical landscape between the afropunk of National Wake, the conscious afro-jazz sounds of groups like Tou, Afrika and the Malopoets and the Soweto reggae bands Splash and Dread Warriors. I've always had it in my head that Michael chose to give himself the moniker LBS after LKJ. Note the Tapper Zukie LP on the cover. There was even a record store in Jo'burg called Vinyl Jah-nkies.

Michael LBS - Greetings From Africa (RRC 2246, 1981)
1. Standing in the Sun
2. We Make it Happen
3. Alexander
4. Sitting on the Beat
5. Cornerhouse Stone
6. Africa's Request
7. Do You Leave Us So
8. Feel In Love
9. Going Away
Produced by Herbert, engineered by Phil Audiore and Graham Handley at Satbel
Band The Stars, all composed, mixed and arranged by Michael Lebese
Thanks Punka Gerald and Ivan Kadi K.O., cover by Dan Roberts

Enjoy Rapidshare & Zippyshare

Monday 7 October 2013

Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje - Siya Emshadweni (1973)

Today we present a classic jive album by the one of mbaqanga's most well-known and loved girl groups, Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje. This LP is Siya Emshadweni ("We're going to a wedding"), released on the CBS label in 1973 and produced by Hamilton Nzimande.

Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje was formed in late 1967 as a direct response to the success of Rupert Bopape's Mahotella Queens over at Gallo. The founding members were Sannah Mnguni, Francina "Thopi" Mnguni, Nomvula "Nunu" Maseko and Thoko Khumalo. Almost immediately, the line-up found popularity with classic hit singles like "Uyawuz' Umoya Makoti", "Pendula Magwala" and "Is'dudla Sik' Joseph", the latter being their first really big hit. Hamilton Nzimande was the only producer who managed to build up a roster of musicians that seriously challenged Bopape's Mavuthela. Nzimande's own stable within the Gramophone Record Company was called Isibaya Esikhulu, the "big kraal".

Sannah, the singer whose earthy and soft contralto voice provided Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje with a unique and distinct identity very quickly, left the group after only a year. She moved over to Troubadour Records, which was on the cusp of being swallowed into Teal-Trutone. Sannah joined the famous and popular mbaqanga female group The Sweet Sixteens, which was led by the beautiful and serene harmony of Irene Mawela. Sannah was not the only one to join Troubadour. Bhekitshe Shabalala, the man who was to Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje what Mahlathini was to the Mahotella Queens, also followed. Irene, Sannah and Bhekitshe harmonised together until around 1970, when Sannah rejoined her old bandmates in Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje, bringing with her a junior Sweet Sixteen by the name of Jane Dlamini.

Some more successful recordings followed until almost of the Izintombi members quit in 1972. Sannah, Thopi and Thoko decided to move to EMI where they formed a very popular new group called Amagugu. With only Jane Dlamini left in Izintombi, Nzimande recruited and poached some new members. With an expanded new line-up that included Nobesuthu Shawe (who had served as a member of the group in 1967 before moving to the Mahotella Queens), Ruth Mafuxwana and Lindiwe Mthembu, the group continued to remain fairly successful until the general decline in the popularity of mbaqanga groups during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Siya Emshadweni features some of the fairly typical material that the group recorded during the early 1970s. The title track is by far one of my favourite tunes on the album. From the elasticated rhythm guitar line to the harmonious bass rhythm... and of course the voices of the girls and groaner Mthunzi Malinga... this one is a gem. "Udumbe Dumbe" and "Sicela Indlela" are two other great ones - the ladies clearly lose themselves in the joyous melodies here. "Ziyathuthuka Izintombi" is another nice song, with its stomping and solid rhythm work. Do you have a favourite tune? Make sure to let us know! "Siya Eswazini" is also noteworthy because, although the lyrics are different, the instrumental players here have stolen the melody of a Mahlathini song titled "Shwele Baba", released the year before. The melody is exactly the same, note-for-note! It was something often done during this period of South African music. Who knows... we may approach this subject in-depth very soon... until then, I hope you like this album of downright funky, layered vocal jive.


produced by Hamilton Nzimande
CBS LAB 4042
Zulu Vocal


Thursday 3 October 2013

Super Soul: The Sounds (1974)

Time for a dose of funky mostly upbeat South African instrumental soul. Hugh Masekela's "Thiba Kamoo" gets a great work-out here. Another track from this album to feature on the earlier Electric Jive June 2012 mix-tape preview is "Bushy Mayanka" .

The Number One label marketed by EMI Music for Pleasure seemed to produce mostly low-price instrumental albums targeted at the urban township market. This particular album still has its "Checkers" super-market price tag of R1.99.

While the marketing may have been cut-price, lovers of this early seventies funky-soul, slightly psychedelic genre will be very pleasantly surprised at this offering. Buried in this here album are some juicy samples just itching and waiting patiently to be lifted and re-worked.

Other than listing composers (see back cover) there is no further information provided on the who the musicians might be. Do Enjoy!

Rapidshare here
Mediafire here