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


  1. Thank you, Over the years I have never thanked you for anything, and you have done such a great job in finding jazz, kwela, andd all sorts of music from South Africa. Now there is something I would like to ask, because you talk of straight afrikaner concertina music. do you mean white-dutch-kind of accordeon music? or is it something else, nevertheless can we hear it. please prove me wrong and post some.

    1. Hi, sure thing! Chris and I have been taking about posting some historic boeremusiek for some time now. Most of the material I have is on 78 rpm and still requires some digitisation. I guess, I used the word "straight" to describe what in my view is more conventional sounding boeremusiek - something the SABC maybe used to describe as "light music". If I can find it, I think I would prefer to post a "rougher" boeremusiek. Let's see what comes up. Watch this space!

  2. Thanks Siemon for this post and for re-upping all those links! Yes, indeed - this year is a good one for unpacking and digitising some boeremusiek - some interesting stuff there ..

    1. Thanks Chris! Absolutely! On a separate note I just found an amazing live version of Edi Niederlander's "Ancient Dust of Africa" played by Tony Cox on YouTube.

  3. If this kind of music does make you feel like going nuts, Siemon, you can just visualise in your mind's eye what it does to 'ghetto boys' like me that grew up with it! This was black SA's homegrown funky sound (a la Stax/Motown) that eclipsed the mbaqanga/sax jive genres, which, in turn, had displaced marabi and kwela before. Lawrence Goreoang was my guitar wizard of the genre! Your 'uncredited' is a duplication of Why.
    Is your array of LP sleeves on display a precursor of more TL gems we can expect? I have two in the list.

    1. Thanks Manzo! I do not have the first three LPs on the list but the rest could come in time. Which two do you have?

    2. I have the last two on CD and reckon I might also have something by The Question Marks (Lawrence Goreoang's breakaway ensemble) on vinyl. I notice that some QM essentials are featured on 'RPM Greatest Soul Hits Vol 3' and I can't wait for 'Sala Emma' by The All Rounders on 'RPM... Vol 2'. Check its latter-day guitar reinterpretation by one Ntokozo Zungu on YouTube. Peace!

    3. Wow , fantastic music on this ! Many great tracks ,especially Sebatala is something else. Thanks a lot for this drop. I recently came across a 7' called Jacaranda by Rex and His Boys on Ariola in The Netherlands 1979. Credits goes to M.Rabanye and producer Thomas J.Masingi like here. So I was wondering if this was a later outfit or earlier material released then. Greetings Koos

  4. Something is wrong with the folder. I downloaded it but couldn’t extract it. Please repost.

  5. can find the links, reup thanks

  6. i can't wait to listen to sala emma by babsy mlangeni and the all rounders. please upload


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