Monday 26 January 2015

The Movers - Black Reggae (1975)

We continue with some interesting finds sourced from rare 8-track tapes. See my earlier post on the Teenage Lovers here at EJ. Today we feature the cartridge that prompted my purchase of the 8-track equipment—Black Reggae by The Movers. Produced by David Thekwane and issued in 1975 on the City Special label, this is the only copy I have ever seen... so far no vinyl has appeared.

Bearing little resemblance to reggae, the album features, rather, two lengthy tracks in the bump jive form. The title track, Black Reggae, is a sunny extended interpretation of Sugar Sugar, the 1969 hit by The Archies. For the most part this instrumental really grooves... except when it occasionally returns to that original reference! Time Up is reminiscent of their classic tune Bump Jive which gave the genre its name and was also recorded the same year. Of course both Time Up and Bump Jive are indebted to Abdullah Ibrahim's iconic Mannenburg.

A discography of The Movers can be viewed at flatint and of course the group has been featured here at Electric Jive many times.

Black Reggae
City Special
YCY 1034 (CYL 1034)

Monday 19 January 2015

Teenage Lovers - On Tour (c1974) on 8-Track

Well… Electric Jive steps out even further! I finally broke down and acquired a refurbished 8-Track player so that I could simply listen to some rare South African cartridges that have been accumulating on my shelves… most notably items I have yet to find on vinyl.

The deck I used, a Panasonic RS-808, was acquired on eBay and carefully refurbished by daveandjudi. The player arrived in excellent condition and I highly recommend their services if you wish to explore this esoteric archival avenue.

Of course, 8-Tracks are famously tricky and this cartridge was no exception. It broke on first insertion and I had to engage in some quick schooling via YouTube to repair it. Another cartridge, seemingly showcasing some amazing 1970s maskanda, alas and perhaps ironically, was mislabeled and featured some straight Afrikaner concertina selections.

My first impression of the format was one of apprehension probably due to the obvious irregularities of the medium. But after a second listening, the nostalgic warmth of the tape hiss combined with the ever present wow and flutter asserted an analogue uniqueness that won me over. In the spirit of collage, even hearing some of the other programmes faintly in the distance of the dead spaces between tracks, seemed enchanting.

There is definitely something different in listening to music in this format. The sound has a blockiness—a low bassiness—which separates it from the precision of vinyl. The tape establishes a blunt soundscape that reinforces its vintage quality, but one that is strangely devoid of the familiar pops and clicks heard in the vinyl experience. Certainly this medium is lo-fi, funky and cool!

Today’s feature On Tour by the Teenage Lovers is simply a classic! One that is in urgent need of a reissue. Furthermore, I am simply amazed that this group has never been featured here at Electric Jive.

The Teenage Lovers were contemporaries of The Movers and the group included the highly influential keyboardist Rex Rabanye—an icon of the 1970s who rivaled the great Sankie Chounyane—and guitarist Lawrence Goreoang.

The group hailed from Ikageng a township near Potchefstroom south west of Johannesburg in the North West Province of today and formerly the Transvaal at the time of recording. The TX prefix on the number plate of the car on the cover confirms the Potchefstroom connection.

According to Max Mojapelo their first hit, Botany 500, was issued in 1974 (the track is also featured on this cartridge) but must have come out around 1971 as their second album bearing the same name (RPM 7008) should have preceded RPM’s compilation Greatest Soul Hits - Volume 2 (RPM 7012) which was issued in 1972. Their debut album Meet the Teenage Lovers (RPM 7005) was probably issued around 1970 on the RPM label, a subsidiary of Gallo.

On Tour could be a compilation of hits c1974, as it does include their best-seller Botany 500 plus a few other tracks featured elsewhere. Though it is hard to tell given that 8-Track cartridges often included additional material to fill in the “programme gaps” so to speak. This album features 16 tracks, two of which are duplicates and one that remains uncredited on the label. To confirm some of the dates, Dikeledi was also issued on 45 rpm (RPM 979) in 1973 (Thanks Chris!)

Instrumental soul-funk-jazz landscapes are established in the opening track of programme 1, Sekhukhuni, where the brooding keyboard is peppered with saxophone. It only gets better from there! My only regret is that these tracks predate the long form conventions of bump jive and sadly just fade way too soon!

Kuyalalwa is simply amazing! An iconic dance classic that reminds me of Manu Dibango’s monumental Soul Makossa... that is, slowed down to a funkier 16 rpms. This track is ideal material for another Next Stop Soweto compilation if Duncan Brooker and Francis Gooding are willing!?

Sebatala is also one of my favorites and significantly it is the track that is repeated twice within the programme selections. Strangely, I feel as if this tune is channeling Edi Niederlander’s future hit, Ancient Dust of Africa. Am I going mad?

Papa Was a Rolling Stone and Meyer-Underground round off the must-hears. Notably most of the best tunes on this album are absent from the Teenage Lovers “Best of” compilations available at iTunes.

The cover shows the group in a red 1965 Plymouth Valiant made by Chrysler, a typical muscle car of the 1960s—one that would also host an 8-Track player and introduce consumers to the freedom of taking music on the road. Notice that the car is an American import as the steering wheel is on the left-hand side. The group-in-car image was a common convention of other RPM covers around the same time. Notably on the compilation A Night at Franco Italian Restaurant (RPM 1026) and the New City Heralds (RPM 7007). The car and 8-Track suggest mobilty, coolness and freedom.

Both Rex Rabanye and Lawrence Goreoang moved on to solo careers in the 1980s. Rabanye sadly began to loose his hearing towards the end of his career but was honored with a SAMA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 before passing away in 2010.

Earphones are recommended or just play loud!


Meet the Teenage Lovers
RPM, RPM 7005

Botany 500
RPM, RPM 7008

RPM, RPM 7010

RPM Greatest Soul Hits - Volume 2
RPM, RPM 7012
VA Compilation

RPM Greatest Soul Hits - Volume 3
RPM, RPM 7014
VA Compilation

On Tour
RPM, RPM 7019

Rafifi and Other Stories
RPM, RPM 7030
dated 1988 but must be a reissue from c1977 given other RPM issues

Dance with the Teenage Lovers
RPM, RPM 7051
1982 compilation but could be c1981
issued 1991 on CD

Best of the Teenage Lovers - Volume 2
Gallo, CDZAC 70
1998 compilation

Wednesday 14 January 2015

The Bhundu Boys (1983)

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere the sun isn't shining too bright and so to remedy this situation the wonderful hopeful sounds of the Bhundu Boys from their debut LP from 1983. Personally I was in the UK to witness them riding a wave of popularity in so many pubs and clubs (I even worked as a roadie carrying their sound system at a gig in Fulham back in 1986). They were picked up by the label Diskafrique and later Warner and even supported Madonna at Wembley Stadium. But the story of what happened to the band is somewhat sad and reported in an interview with founding member Rise Kagona in the Guardian back in 2006.

But if its the music you want then sit back and enjoy some sunshine sounds.

The Bhundu Boys (Rugare 1000, 1983)

Download: Mediafire

Monday 12 January 2015

Slow Drive to Soweto (1974)

Following our focus on seventies soul, groove and fusion it would be remiss not to repost this classic from seminal seventies band The Drive, established in 1971 by Henry Sithole and Bunny Luthuli. 

From the original post at matsuli:
Now some people really don't like it when African musicians make "non-African" music. This cuts close to the debate on authenticity, tradition and modernity. It has political dimensions and can get people very worked up. Witness the recent conversations on the WorldService blog when the writer expressed his dislike for - amongst others - the emphasis placed on the western aspects of African music. I don't want to get involved too far in this debate but I would like to briefly illustrate how jazz, soul and fusion in South Africa came to represent a declaration of independence and freedom from the constrictions that the Apartheid government had made regarding cultural and political expression.  

In the 1960s Apartheid social engineering in South Africa resulted in the promotion by the government of indigenous cultural styles. Nine different radio services were created along language lines. This was in line with the government's political strategy of eradicating an urban black population. The aim was to ensure that the black workers required for mining and manufacture were temporary sojourners in the urban areas with traditional homes in the rural countryside (the so-called bantustans, or independent homelands in government parlance).

Within this context playing or at the very least making a passing reference to non-indigenous styles such as jazz, soul and rock was subversive and understood and read to be a declaration of freedom from the government straitjacket. But this political act decreased the avenues available for musicians to make money. Finding and playing to audiences without radio exposure was difficult. Added to this were more and more restrictions and licensing requirements that mean playing to urban audiences in the seventies was inherently problematic. Not many nightclubs existed in urban areas and promoter often took risky decisions to put on live shows.  

The Drive (L-R): Bunny Luthuli, Temba (?), Tony Soali, Nelson Magwaza, Lucky Mbatha, Mavis Maseku, Stanley Sithole, Danny Sithole & Henry Sithole.(Photo © David Marks, Orlando, Soweto)

The Drive, along with The Movers, were South Africa's premier soul jazz band and represented an articulate black urban vision of a future at odds with Apartheid's engineers. Despite the political statement inherent in playing jazz or soul the music had a mixed reception. If you listen to the LP being shared today some tracks work better than others and some are probably best left on the cutting floor. 

Slow Drive to Soweto (1974, AYL 1009)
1. Sweet Lips
2. Do It Again 
3. Let It Be Me 
4. Spinning Wheel feat Lucky Mbatha 
5. Yesterday feat. Lucky Mbatha 
6. Whats On Your Mind feat. Lucky Mbatha
7. Love and Peace
8. For Friends 
9. Howl 
10. Slow Drive to Soweto

DOWNLOAD: Mediafire

Monday 5 January 2015

Doing it in Soweto (aka Township Grooving)

Following on from the brilliant end of year mixes I thought it might be a great way to start the year by reviving an old compilation I did at my old blog. "Township Grooving - South African Soul, Funk and Fusion from the '70s" crosses many paths already travelled here at Electricjive. Enjoy!

From the original notes:
For young South Africans in the early seventies, groovin’ to “soul” or jazz provided access to a “non-tribal” identity at a time when the South African government was seeking to appropriate tribal identity in the furtherance of its apartheid policies. By contrast older musical styles including sax-jive, mbaqanga, and mbube were perceived by many young urbanites to be tribalistic, rural, and un-sophisticated. This rejection of older forms was also a symptom of generational and cultural change. The move to the city from rural areas (a trend necessitated by successive South African governments’ attempts to transform the rural black peasantry into an urban proletariat with roots in “traditional homelands”) weakened traditional bonds and opened up new possibilities for the construction of cultural and political identities.

Aside from a number of experiments with older forms it would take until the eighties for the “pure” older styles to regain currency with urban groovers. In part, this re-evaluation was prompted by the projects of foreign enthusiasts - Malcolm McLaren, Manfred Mann, Lizzy Mercier Descloux, and Paul Simon all worked with indigenous mbaqanga sounds. It was also driven by the ongoing “Africanist” attempt to reclaim and revitalise African identity. Prominent proponents of Africanism included the ANC, exiled musicians, and various internal Black consciousness movements.

The 1970s music served here is drawn from a number of different scenes and places. On the rich and varied menu are afrorock from Jonas Gwangwa and Assegai, afrobeat from Hugh Masekela, jazz-dance from Letta Mbulu, 60s soul from the Flames, mbaqanga soul from the Soul Brothers, “cross-over” pop, soul and rock from The Beaters, The Movers, Mpharanyana, The Cannibals and Margaret Singana, jazz-fusion from Dick Khoza, soul fusion from Pacific Express, sax-groove from The Hockers, and a little more.

While 1970s South African soul borrowed heavily from the Motown and Stax blueprint, its indigenous re-interpretation and articulation can’t be missed. Moreover, each producer tended to have his own style, and include his own innovations. Many of the key producers from the South African “soul” scene are represented here: Hamilton Nzimande - credited by many to be the first producer to take South African “soul” seriously, Rashid Vally - producer of seminal seventies jazz sessions, David Thekwane – producer of big-sellers The Movers and West Nkosi who took over the production reigns of the Mavuthela stable from Rupert Bopape.

For many the period documented here is best forgotten. Black music production houses were messing with Motown techniques whilst the soul of the nation was being plundered by successive National Party governments. It’s no wonder, perhaps, that some of the more dour political militants of the time had a problem with the soul scene.  

1.LM Radio excerpt
LM Radio was a non-stop music station, based in Lorenzo Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique, where the latest international and local hits could be heard. 
2. The Boy’s Doin’ It - Hugh Masekela (Masekela, Ekemode, Kwesi, Todd, Opoku, Gboyega, Warren) 
Original mover and shaker Hugh Masekela struts his stuff whilst backed by the funky Ghanaian outfit Hedzoleh Soundz. Taken from the Casablanca LP of the same name and dedicated to Fela Ransome-Kuti this track was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria in mid 1975.
3. Chapita – Dick Khoza (Khoza)
Acclaimed jazz drummer Dick Khoza was a regular and in-demand session-man at the many jazz venues in Johannesburg in the early seventies. These included the Pelican in Soweto where he played in the band the Jazz Revellers with bassist Sipho Gumede. The Pelican was a great musical laboratory in the 1970's. On any given night, legendary artists would pop in for a jam or perform as part of the Sunday night cabaret. Gumede was later to form the band Roots, then Spirits Rejoice with Bheki Mseleku, and in the early eighties the visionary band Sakhile. 
4. Switch #2 - Jonas Gwangwa and African Explosion (Gwangwa)
Jonas Gwangwa recorded his first LP in the USA on Ahmad Jamal’s label in 1969. A colleague of fellow musical exiles Caiphus Semenya, Hugh Masekela, Letta Mbulu, Dudu Pukwana, Abdullah Ibrahim and Johnny Dyani, Gwangwa later became the musical director of Amandla - the cultural ensemble of the African National Congress. 
5. Johannesburg Love Trip – Thembi (unknown)
Thembi had a top twenty hit in the Netherlands in 1977 with a pop version of Afrikaans folksong “Take Me Back to the Old Transvaal”. On the LP of the same name this Is a travelogue of the urban centres and languages of South Africa.  
6. Kinzambi – Assegai(Duhig)
Assegai was anchored by African musicians Louis Moholo, Mongezi Feza, Fred Coker and Dudu Pukwana. They were signed by British label Vertigo in the label's attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Afro-rock bands such as Osibisa. Taken from a re-issue LP Afro-Rock this track features members of the UK band Jade Warrior.  
7. For Your Precious Love – The Flames (Brooks and Butler)
This “Indian” soul group from Durban featured Blondie Chaplin and the Fataar Brothers. They released two classic albums in the '60's – 'Soulfire' and 'Burning Soul' - and then headed off to work with the Beach Boys. This song, a cover of the Impressions track from 1958, was a No. 1 hit on the Springbok Radio charts in October 1968 and spent 11 weeks in the Top Twenty. In the seventies a number of top US soul acts, including Curtis Mayfield, the O Jays, Joe Henderson, Tina Turner, Brook Benton and Percy Sledge all toured South Africa.
8. Harari - The Beaters (Mabuse, Khaoli, Ntuli)
The Beaters were formed by Selby Ntuli in the late 60s in Soweto and comprised Sipho Mabuse (drums), Alec Khaoli (bass), Monty Ndimande (guitar) and Ntuli (guitar). In March 1969 their first album Soul-A-Go-Go was released. A further two albums Bacon and Eggs (1970) and Mumsy Hips (1971) followed. In 1976 the band headed north for a three-week tour of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), which turned into a three-month success. As a result of this tour the band changed their name to Harari and recorded an album of the same name. This is the title track from that album. In 1978, Harari was invited to the USA by Hugh Masekela to perform with him. Unfortunately the bands leader Selby died and the tour didn’t take place. Harari did however support and back Percy Sledge, Timmy Thomas, Letta Mbulu, Brook Benton and Wilson Pickett on their South African tours. In 1979 they were the first black group to appear on South African television and the first black group to have their own show at the Colosseum in Johannesburg in 1980. In the same year the band was featured in a BBC TV documentary. The 1980 album Heatwave was released in the USA and in 1982 the Party 12” single entered the American Disco Hot 100. 
9. I Never Loved a Man - Margaret Singana (Russel)
Margaret Singana started performing with the Symbols in 1972 and had an early radio hit with Good Feelings. In 1973 she was cast as the lead singer in the musical Ipi Ntombi and became famous with white audiences for the song Mama Tembu’s Wedding. The production toured Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. However it was the song featured here that made her the first black artist to be feature on the Radio 5 hit parade. She suffered from bad health but made a comeback of sorts with the theme song from the series Shaka Zulu. Wheelchair bound and penniless Margaret died in 2000 after a long illness.
10. Ngasuka Ekhaya - Stephen Moleleki (Moleleki)
A Sotho language version of the George Benson track Broadway taken from a David Thekwane produced various artists LP Hlubane Special from 1980.  
11. Katlehong - Mpharanyana and the Cannibals (Radebe)
In 1975 the Cannibals, featuring young guitarist Ray Phiri, paired up with Jacob “Mpharanyana” Radebe who was considered by many to be the greatest male singer of the whole pre-disco soul era. They recorded together for four years producing a string of hits featuring Radebe’s impassioned vocals and monologues. 
12. How Long - The Movers (Chounyane)
The Movers were producer David Thekwane’s big success in the “soul” market. As with so many other bands playing within this genre they rarely addressed politics directly, but they rejected the ethnic associations used to divide people under apartheid and embraced the international sound purveyed by the likes of Wilson Pickett and Percy Sledge.
13. Get Funky(edit) - The Cannibals (Ndlovo, Phiri, Shongwe, Hlophe, Mtshali)
From 1979 and produced by Hamilton Nzimande this track in its full form at 15 minutes covers one side of the LP by the same name. The Cannibals recorded this soon after the death of star Mpharanyana and were later to evolve into the band Stimela. Ray Phiri gained fame (and in some circles notoriety) for working with Paul Simon on the Graceland LP and then having a song banned from airplay by the SABC. 
14. Brother - Pacific Express (Schilder)
Pacific Express originally formed in Cape Town in the late 60s. Following the arrival of pianist Chris Schilder in 1975 the band took on a jazzier sound and built a reputation that spanned the whole of the sub-continent. Members of the band included Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee, Robbie Jansen, Jonathan Butler, Barney Rachabane, Chris Schilder and others. Chris Schilder had earlier played alongside the seminal Soweto jazz-funk outfit The Drive with Ronnie Madonsela, Bunny Luthuli, Tony Soali, Nelson Magwaza, Lucky Mbatha, Mavis Maseku and the Sithole Brothers Stanley, Danny & Henry. This is the lead track off their 1976 LP Black Fire.  
15. Take Me Home Taximan - Soul Brothers (Masondo)
This example of mbaqanga soul at its finest is taken from the Soul Brothers 3rd LP from 1977 “I Feel So Lonely Without You”. Previously known as the Groovy Boys and then the Young Brothers they were persuaded to change their name to the Soul Brothers by producer Hamilton Nzimande in 1974. Original members included Zenzele Mchunu, David Masondo, Tuza Mthethwa and Hammond B3 organist Moses Ngwenya. From the moment they recorded their first two singles in 1976 and with the solid backing of legendary producer Hamilton Nzimande behind them, the Soul Brothers were consistent hit makers. With over 30 albums to their credit, the Soul Brothers now operate recording studios, a record company and a publishing business. They stand as one of the great success stories of South African music having survived disco, bubblegum and now kwaito.
16. Fly Me Home (edit) - The Hockers (Thekwane)
Legenadary big five producer David Thekwane's own composition and played by Thomas Pale, Lulu Masilela, unknown studio musicians and himself on a jazz-influenced South African sax jive tune. On the original tow track LP from 1976 the groove just keeps going ala Fela Kuti for a full 12 minutes.
17. What's Wrong With Groovin' - Letta Mbulu (Masekela)
A big favourite with the jazz dance crowd in the UK, featured on compilations by Gilles Peterson and Comet and also reissued as a 7" on Jazzman Records this Masekela penned tune by recorded by Mbulu in the mid sixties.
18. Capital Radio opening
At the close of the decade in December 1979 independent radio station Capital 604 started broadcasting into South Africa from the nominally independent Transkei bantustan. For a time they were able to broadcast a lot of content avoided by the SABC including many of tracks featured here.

Download: Mediafire