Thursday 9 April 2015

Abacothozi: Thema Maboneng (1975)

Finally! Another fantastic rarity that Electric Jive has long been looking out for. "Thema Maboneng" is the first of two known albums recorded by what was at the time, the core of Soweto's famed Pelican Club house band. 

Siemon outlines the history and context of Abacothozi in posting their second album "Pelican Fantasy" here

"Abacothozi were formed in 1973 by bassist, Berthwel Maphumulo, formerly of the Elite Swingsters. Together with Mac Mathunjwa on organ, his brother Innocent Mathunjwa on drums and Joe Zikhali on guitar, they recorded at least two albums: Thema Maboneng (Soul Jazz Pop, BL 59, December 1975) and Night in Pelican(Soul Jazz Pop, BL 66, February 1976). The two Abacothozi albums were recorded six weeks apart and predate the Chapita sessions with Dick Khoza by eight months. Mac Mathunjwa would go on to play keyboards with the Peddlers backing Mpharanyana."

These six sizzling tracks were "compiled" by West Nkosi for the Mavuthela label. As with "Pelican Fantasy" this music is sunny, funky and danceable.

To paraphrase Jonatan Eato, there is a slow burn to the  emergent benefits and possibilities of this blog. For Electric Jive it feels like the idea of "digitally archiving" out of print and inaccessible South African musics is being embraced by a growing band of collectors and fans. More people are coming forward and offering to share otherwise lost gems from their collections. Today's thanks are due to Vusi over at The Fly Machine Sessions. Vusi also pointed out that "Thema Maboneng" is pretty much borrowed from this 1974 Isaac Hayes track (Hung Up On My Baby - from the Tough Guys sound-track):

Since Kon and Amir featured the track "Thema Maboneng" on their 2008 compilation  Off Track Volume 2 - Queens (BBE, 2008) a small number of us have been searching in the hope of hearing the full album.  

Another recording involving the Pelican Club house band is the 1977 "Funny Things" by the "Ensemble of Rhythm and Art".

Download here


  1. at last! very elusive title, many thanks to Vusi!

  2. I can't resist no longer. merci beaucoup, Vusi !


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