Thursday 25 June 2015

Harare Hit Parade Revisited

Once more due to overwhelming reader demand the Harare Hits compilations are back. Like mbaqanga, the electric urban sounds of Zimbabwe between the late seventies and mid-eighties hold a special place in many people's hearts. These were different times with a sense of optimism midst daily struggles and a nation still drunk with liberty. It's blistering dancefloor pop in any language that still speaks today. Enjoy this time capsule from the past that keeps us from forgetting what can be possible. These were originally compiled by Tony Hunter who spent time teaching in Zimbabwe in the early part of the 80s.

Harare Hit Parade 1: 1980-81
01. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits- Africa 
02. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Cheka Hukama
03. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Madzongo Nyedze
04. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Seiko
05. Elijah Madzikatire and Ocean City Band – Very Sorry
06. Elijah Madzikatire and Ocean City Band – Gukura Hundi
07. Devera Ngwena Jazz Band – Zhimozhzhi
08. Devera Ngwena Jazz Band – Barba Mwana Wakanaka
09. Devera Ngwena Jazz Band – Ruva Remoyo Wangu
10. Job Mashanda and the Muddy face – Zuva Rakabuda
11. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Shanje
12. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Reura
13. Zexie Manatsa and the Green Arrows – Chivaraidze
14. Zexie Manatsa and the Green Arrows – Tambayi Makachenjera

Harare Hit Parade 2: 1981-84
01. Lovemore Majaivana and Jobs Combination – Okwabanye
02. Lovemore Majaivana and Jobs Combination – Isitmela
03. Lovemore Majaivana and Jobs Combination – Amanda
04. Africa Melody – Africa Yakanaka
05. Africa Melody – Emma Rega Kuchema
06. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Kumhunga
07. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Tinomuchema
08. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Yeukai
09. Marxist Brothers – Mwana We Dangwe
10. Safirio Madzikatire and Sea Cottage Sisters – Katarina
11. Zexie Manatsa and the Green Arrows – Tiyi Hobvu
12. Pied Pipers – Amayo
13. Patrick Mkwamba and the Four Brothers – Vakakunda Zviedzo
14. Patrick Mkwamba and the Four Brothers – Wapenga Nayo Bonus
15. Sungura Boys - Mandi

Harare Hit Parade 3: 1985-86
01. Jobs Combination – Imali
02. Jobs Combination – Mary
03. Jobs Combination – Ekhaya
04. Jobs Combination – Isimanga Sendoda
05. Jobs Combination – Usathane Simehlule
06. Fallen Heroes – Uthando Lwemali
07. Robson Banda and the New Black Eagles – Huya Tshande
08. Kassongo Band – Panyadzonya
09. Marxist Brothers – Sekuyo Ndipeiwo Zano
10. Marxist Brothers – Mari
11. Marxist Brothers – Kunjere Kunjere
12. Oliver Mtukudzi a and the Black Spirits – Chenjera
13. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Mhaka
14. Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits – Munamato Yedu

Harare Hit Parade 4: 1985-1987
01. Robson Banda and the New Black Eagles - Maria 
02. Robson Banda and the New Black Eagles -Emmah 
03. Jairos Jiri Band - Chando Chinouraya 
04. Jairos Jiri Band - Mai Murambatsvina 
05. Jairos Jiri Band - Ndezvedu 
06. Jairos Jiri Band - Sarah 
07. Jairos Jiri Band - Zvemumba Medu 
08. Oliver Mtukudzi - Gona 
09. Oliver Mtukudzi - Jeri 
10. Ilanga - Somandhla

Monday 22 June 2015

Flavian Nyathi and the Blues Revolution: Ropa Re Zimbabwe

By popular request Electricjive reposts this Zimbabwean classic from 1980 - originally from the Matsuli blog:
"The first two Zimbabwean LPs I heard and subsequently taped from a friend (as you did back in those days of the TDK C90) were Thomas Mapfumo's Gwindingwe Rine Shumba and Flavian Nyathi's Ropa Re Zimbabwe. Thomas Mapfumo you should know along with other Zimbabweans such as Oliver Mtunkudzi. But how many of you have heard of Flavian Nyathi? No background information, just a classic LP full of revolutionary sentiment for better times. Have a listen and let me know if you agree on its status. If you look carefully you can see a Josh & Kathy's Soundland sticker, the Harare record bar frequented by many looking for exciting Zimbabwean pop." (Matt Temple)

Flavian Nyathi and the Blues Revolution - Ropa Re Zimbabwe (Gallo Records, Disc. KK 13, 1980)
Mwana Takamushaya
Ve Soweto
Ndikakunga Maivangu
Ropa ReZimbabwe
Pfumo Demo
Baba Namai
Hakuna Nyika Isna Rinda 


Wednesday 17 June 2015

Mahotella Queens - Tsamaya Moratuoa (1980)

We turn our focus now to some sunny early 1980s female mbaqanga. Tsamaya Moratuoa, featuring 12 Sotho songs originally released on singles in late 1979, is a 1980 release from the always wonderful Mahotella Queens. Although soul and disco music had already started to take the focus away from mbaqanga, the Queens continued to enjoy some substantial popularity thanks to strong compositions, superb vocals – and a revitalised instrumental backing: the second guitar was replaced by an organ, and the old sidestick snare was more or less exchanged for full disco-style drums.

So much of the Queens’ music of this era developed from real-life situations. The title song of this particular LP is nothing short of a masterpiece. Emily Zwane, vocalist for the Queens since 1971 and the group’s main lead singer between 1978 and 1987, wrote “Tsamaya Moratuoa” after her marriage to taxi driver Moses Mathibe collapsed. The two had got wed and moved in together in Daveyton, Johannesburg, but Emily’s job required her to tour South Africa (and surrounding countries) for up to six months of the year. After returning home from a Queens tour, Emily was shocked to discover Moses – and his belongings – absent from their marital home.

Emily later discovered that the man she loved had been legally declaring himself as unmarried for the entirety of their relationship. (For reasons known only to him, Moses continued to boast about once being with the famous Mahotella Queen for decades afterwards.) Emily, an archetypal strong woman who – for all her warmth and good nature – was never one to share her emotions, took the obviously therapeutic step of singing out her sorrow: “Go with peace, my love… you left me alone and miserable, putting your happiness before mine… I hope that wherever you go, they treat you with the same care and love I gave you… don’t cry, my love, because I’m not in tears myself… it’s true what the elders say… ‘Every difficult situation eventually comes to an end.’”

“Tsamaya Moratuoa” was a huge hit song for the Queens. Marks Mankwane arranged for the ladies to do alternate versions of the song in Zulu (“Hamba Sithandwa”) and in Tswana (“Tsamaya Moratiwa”), which won Emily the award of ‘Top Composer on Disc’ from Radio Tswana in 1981.

Another brilliant few songs come from group member Caroline Kapentar, who joined the Queens in 1973 after seven years at Mavuthela. Caroline is noted for her strong compositions - meaningful lyrics and extremely catchy melodies. "Mokgadi O Fihlile" refers to the ladies who long to see their men; the husbands who work all year long with only a brief Christmas holiday to see their wives and children. Another, "Ke Utloile", is a beautifully emotive ballad urging children to listen to their parents - this way, they'll avoid the feelings of guilt and regret when they become adults.

The other standout songs on this LP come from the creative mind of solo star Irene Mawela. (In 1979, the Mahotella Queens fell short of a few vocalists, so producer and guitarist Marks Mankwane recruited Irene and fellow solo singer Olga Mvicane to temporarily flesh out the group while they were in the studio. More permanent members were recruited later on in the form of Hazel Zwane – no relation to Emily – and Maggie Khumalo.) Irene re-arranged two traditional Sotho numbers for this album: “Mangwani Mpulele” and “Re Basadi Kaofela”. In the first number, the ladies sing the catchy English ‘it’s raining outside, raining outside’ lyrics, peppered with male vocals from dynamic soul singers Walter Dlamini and Mandla, and Irene takes the second song to a high with the repetitive ‘dumela, dumela…’ (‘greetings to you all’), performed in her usual sweet, supernatural voice.

The Queens on Tsamaya Moratuoa are: Emily Zwane (lead vocal), Irene Mawela (lead vocal), Caroline Kapentar, Thandi Nkosi, Sheba Malgas and Olga Mvicane. They are backed by The Beggers: Marks Mankwane (lead guitar), Mzwandile David (bass), Thamie Xongwana (organ), Mike Stoffel (drums). Enjoy!

produced by Marks Mankwane
engineered by Greg Cutler and Phil Audoire
Gumba Gumba BL 226
Sotho Vocal


Thursday 11 June 2015

Happy 400 from Electric Jive!

It might surprise you to know that this is the 400th post on Electric Jive. In fact, we at EJ HQ realised our 400th was coming only in the last week or so. It's really a bit of a milestone for us and one that we felt shouldn't go unnoticed. But we've decided it's better to give than to receive - so what better way to mark 400 posts than offering our readers another compilation of wonderful '60s and '70s South African vocal jive 45s?!

The Dark City Sisters, that wonderful group of wonderful dames, open this celebration with their 1968 hit "Nice Time". Though the Mahotella Queens had taken the crown upon their 1964 formation, the Sisters were unmoved and continued to fly their mighty flag up high under the stewardship of Joyce Mogatusi and her fellow songbirds Grace Msika, Esther Khoza and Audrey Zwane. The Sisters continued to perform and record for a further 40 years - by the end, only on a very small, local circuit - until the death of lead vocalist Joyce Mogatusi in July 2012. Grace Msika, now in her mid-70s, has retired from singing but still remembers and hails the magical voice of her late best friend whose talent put the Dark City Sisters on the map.

"Dikuku" was a huge Sotho vocal hit in 1968. Composed by singer Virginia Teffo and performed by John Moriri and the Mthunzini Girls (but released under their other recording name Izingane Zo Mgqashiyo), the song simply celebrates the tasty cakes prepared to be eaten at traditional wedding ceremonies. As the John and the girls sing, the cakes are delicious but marriage is a tough nut to crack. Apart from Virginia, the original Mthunzini Girls - Julia Yende, Windy Sibeko and Teddy Nkutha - had actually resigned not long before this recording was made and were now recording for Isibaya Music as Izintombi Zentuthuko. Virginia was kept at Mavuthela by boss Rupert Bopape, who eventually became father to her children. Although Bopape officially retired in 1979, he continued to write songs and travel to the Gallo studios until the early 1980s. Virginia continued popping in and out of the Mahotella Queens until Bopape entered his old age and settled in Limpopo.

Though "Intlonipho" is credited to the Mthunzini Girls, it is really performed by the Mahotella Queens. Juliet Mazamisa, the composer of the tune, joined the Mahotella Queens in 1965 as their alto vocalist. She had arrived at the Gallo studios with fire in her belly. Her family members had turned on her, furious and jealous that she wanted to express herself in some artistic way. In the Mahotella Queens, she found love and support from her fellow singers. In 1969, Juliet was among the handful of Queens who quit Mavuthela to join Isibaya, recording as Amakhosazana (princesses). They moved again after less than a year, this time over to Teal Records - "Mapule" was recorded there in 1971 - and after a further few years unsigned, Amakhosazana split. Juliet then joined John Moriri and the Manzini Girls over at Satbel to make a dozen wonderful recordings; "Ciyongi Khumbula" is another Mazamisa composition, featuring both John and Manzini Girl Joana Thango on lead vocal duties. But it was only right that Juliet, a wonderful raconteur and a truly natural actress, would try her hand at television drama once the SABC had developed its African TV business. Until her retirement in 2000, Juliet lit up the screen with her sizzling personality in a bevy of serious TV dramas and comedies.

The star that had once shone so brightly during the mid-1950s had more or less faded after the rapid changes in the music scene and a botched goitre operation, and by 1965, Mabel Mafuya found herself at something of a dead-end. So she got in touch with top producer Rupert Bopape, who agreed to sign the big name to Mavuthela. "Intombi Yami" is one of the few sides she recorded with the Mahotella Queens, then on the cusp of becoming the country's most popular group, but not even they could help to bring Mabel to the same heights of fame she enjoyed a decade previously. It wasn't until the advent of the SABC's black television production that Mabel, like Juliet Mazamisa, was able to successfully breakthrough into another market.

1970's "Sebokeng Sa Dipina" represents the time when the Mahotella Queens name was at its highest peak - the only problem was that the original line-up had just quit to form Amakhosazana over at Isibaya, so Rupert Bopape found himself having to rebuild the group on the orders of Gallo executives, who didn't want their most popular African group to disappear overnight. Until Hilda Tloubatla came back to the group after her brief maternity leave, Phyllis Zwane took over the reigns as lead singer. But Phyllis' vocal range was not nearly as powerful or distinctive as Hilda's, so Bopape moved her around Mavuthela until she was able to find her niche. By the time Phyllis recorded "Segametse" with Izintombi Zomoya in 1975, she was still trying to develop a lead singing voice but was ultimately drowned out by those who possessed more memorable voices, such as Hilda, Julia Yende, Sannah Mnguni, Joyce Mogatusi, Emily Zwane and Irene Mawela.

Irene provides the feminine touch to the testosterone-fuelled "Shona Phansi Ndoda", an ode to the hardworking men digging for gold and diamonds in South Africa's mines. The song is credited to Mahabula Joza but it is really Irene along with members of top male mbaqanga group Abafana Baseqhudeni. Their lead singer, Robert 'Mbazo' Mkhize, features on two other hits in this compilation: "Ngiyayithanda Lentombi", a brilliant solo effort from 1973, and as the male lead singer in the fantastic "Usapho" by Dulcie Luthuli and her group Abalilizeli. Mbazo, Boy Nze, Tshabalala, Mazambane, Mabhawodi and countless others were actually following in the footsteps of the original king of the groaners - the main man himself, Simon 'Mahlathini' Nkabinde. The lion roars with all his might in "Basibon' Izithutha" (performed with the Mahotella Queens) and "Sabela Zwide" (a duo with the aforementioned Boy Nze).

We at Electric Jive sincerely hope you've enjoyed our posts over the past six years - how astounding to realise we've been going that long already! - and while 400 certainly doesn't have the robustness of a figure such as... for instance, 500... it's still humbling to reach such a target. I say with pride and not arrogance - truly - that Electric Jive holds an important position within the online movement towards the preservation and celebration of South African music from the 1950s through the 1980s. We'll carry on documenting this great country's rich musical heritage and sharing the out-of-print sounds of the past for as long as we possibly can.

Here's to the next 400! :)



Download link: MF

Wednesday 3 June 2015

The Beaters: Hot Dogs (1969)

Before I head into discographical territory; this is one laid-back, groovy hip-swinging psychedelic instrumental soul record from the band that became Harari. You can read how The Beaters became Harari here.

Whilst Harari's discography is well documented (here and here, for example), The Beaters are only mentioned in passing as having been the same band before they became Harari.

The discography of The Beaters is not clear. A quick search will reveal different and incomplete versions, most saying they recorded three albums. It seems there may have been as many as six albums..

Max Mojapelo in his book "Beyond Memory" writes that The Beaters were formed in 1968 and their first record "Soul A-Go-Go" was produced by Ray Nkwe in 1969 on the Teal label. I have not yet seen this record. Mojapelo goes on to say Bacon & Eggs  (1970) and Mumsy Hips (1974) were subsequent  albums on the GRC label.

The most likely explanation is that Soul A-Go-Go (featured on this album) was their first 45rpm single recording released. and that "Hot Dogs" was their first 33rpm album. "Lost Memories" on the CBS label is dated 1969. Though the label on Hot Dogs shared here today does not contain a date (and I do not possess the original cover) it is pretty certain that of the two CBS recordings Hot Dogs (LAB.4011) was published before Lost Memories (LAB.4017).
Lost Memories: 1969

The two opening track titles of each side of the record shared in this post are also the titles of what Mojapelo claims to be two 1970s albums by The Beaters. Mumsey's Hipsy and Bacon and Eggs. Perhaps these titles were re-released as 45rpms in the 1970s, and not as 33rpm albums?

If you can add to this information, please do drop us a line in the comments below. If a band can successfully release two full albums in 1969. surely there must be some additional recordings made before 1976?

The Beaters: Summary Discography

1. Soul A-Go-Go Teal (1969) - possibly only as a siingle
2. Hot Dogs - CBS LAB.4011 (1969)
3. Lost Memories - CBS LAB.4017 - (1969)  find it here.
4. Bacon & Eggs - GRC (1970) - possibly only as a single
5. Mumsy Hips - GRC (1974) - possibly only as a single.
6. Harari - 1976 - find it here

Download link here