Wednesday 24 August 2016

Top Soul Hits (1977)

This soul compilation from the legendary Mavuthela stable lives in my top drawer of vinyls most often spun. Inspired by the September Jive energy, I found some time to digitize it.

West Nkosi and the flagship Soul Jazz Pop label were blessed with artistic riches, no filler here. A few of these tracks have already been featured in their original albums here on Electric Jive. If you have not yet heard these, here is your perfect sampler. If you have already, The Makhona Zonke Band's "Walk to Jo'urg" is new to EJ, while "The Webb" and "Somewhere There" featured on Matt's special post earlier this year. You may or may not have heard Jacob "Mpharanyana" Radebe's Oho Morena, but there are three other tracks featuring the Cannibals.

There are some new gems here too,new to Electric Jive anyway. The Mthunzini Girls are going to surprise you with some multi-vocal swinging soul. Ray Chikapa Phiri gives the Cannibals "Be A Man". Reggie Msomi's "Tsikiza" gives bump a whole dose of soul.

When Patience Africa has featured on this blog, it has been a popular post. The most popular post on Electric Jive, for example. Nick Lotay writes a great essay for a wonderful disco soul compilation. He says the following about Patience Africa:

 "After a subdued musical start and then a long period of family life, Patience joined West Nkosi in around 1976 and spent some six or seven years under his production recording successful solo material, backed by West’s various soul teams including The U-Vees, The Shoe Laces and (most successfully) The Peddlars. She was awarded “Best Female Vocalist” numerous times by the SABC in its unnamed blacks-only version of the SARIE Awards. Though these ceremonies were more or less shambolic and by and large insulting to the musicians they were supposedly rewarding, Patience really was a top talent deserving – like all her contemporaries, no matter the style of music – of so much more."

Sunday 21 August 2016

September Jive: South Africa's Music Heritage in focus

Heads up to lovers of South African music – first in Johannesburg, but also travelling to Cape Town and Durban. A visual and aural feast of this country’s musical and artistic heritage – a buffet of movies, exhibitions, and discussions.

September Jive is a tribute to the musical heritage of South Africa. A series of events will
provide a platform to meet, discuss and engage around the incredible diversity and history that makes South Africa such a rich musical country. September Jive comprises two exhibitions as well as panel discussions, screenings, meetings and talks. It aims at promoting the South African musical heritage, from a musicological, historical and visual perspective.

SA musical graphics - classics and collectables presents 150 of the most interesting,
important and beautiful sleeve covers, with a special focus on truly South African designs, which could have emanated only from this country. The selection was made by a group consisting of collectors and designers (Siemon Allen, Rob Allingham, Caroline Hillary, Molemo Moiloa).

My favourite sounds - Music and media personalities speak out about their favourite
tracks and albums, consist of 50 photo portraits of music and media personalities including Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Johnny Clegg, Brenda Sisane… accompanied by short interviews about their favourite South African music and explaining why they chose it. This exhibition is the work of photographer Kapula.

All events are free and open to anyone.

All the events are happening at the Alliance Française of Johannesburg
17 Lower Park Drive, corner Kerry Road, opposite Zoo Lake Parkview, Johannesburg

Thursday 01 September – opening of September Jive exhibitions
SA musical graphics - classics and collectables
My favourite sounds - Music and media personalities speak out about their favourite tracks and albums

Friday 02 September (18:30) – Film screening
Phuzekhemisi (Damon Heatlie): A biographical profile of this popular Zulu Maskanda artist who became the leading voice of  protest for his beleaguered rural KZN community.

Wednesday 07 September (18:30) – lecture
Forbidden sounds, music and censorship in the time of apartheid: This presentation explores the apartheid regime's popular music censorship practices, from the banning of 'undesirable' music from distribution (and sometimes possession) to keeping the airwaves clear of subversive messages.
(presented by Michael Drewett)

Friday 09 September (18:30) – Film screening
Amandla! A Revolution In Four-Part Harmony (Lee Hirsh): "Amandla! A Revolution In Four-Part Harmony" is a soul-stirring documentary that uses exclusive interviews and rare, never-before-seen film footage to document the vital role that music played in the nearly half-century struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

Thursday 15 September (18:30) – panel discussion
Past to the present, old sounds to modern ears: This panel discussion is about the re-issues market, from compilations to original albums. It focuses on 4 specialised labels, their successes and challenges in a time of sampling and DJs. Moderator: Richard Nwamba (SAFM), Panellists: Chris Albertyn, Rob Allingham, Alain Courbis, Benjy Moody.

Friday 16 September (18:30) – Film screening
Dilemma (Peter Maxwell) – excerpt ‘Dilemma’ was a full-length dramatization of a Nadine Gordimer story filmed in 1962. It contains this one memorable musical performance with (in order of appearance) Mackay Davashe, Pricilla Booi, Vinah Benele, Tandi Mpambane (Klaasen), Mabel Mafuya, Abigail
Kubeka, Blyth Mbitjana, Kippie Moeketsi and Wanda Makhubu

African Shakes (Basil Mailer): Filmed in 1965 and aimed at the ‘teenage’ audience, ‘Africa Shakes’ was a sometimes cringe-inducing attempt to replicate the Beatles ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ in a South African setting. However, with the benefit of fifty years’ hindsight, the film can now be savoured as a rare, pre-television era document of the local music scene, both white and African. Although ‘starring’ a second-rate British ‘beat band’, Bill Kimber & The Couriers, the film includes unique cameo appearances by Ben Nkosi, Reggie Msomi, Dana Valery, Lemmy Special Mabaso, Sharon Tandy, Abigail Kubeka (backed by Peter Mokonotela, Gideon Nxumalo, Chooks Tshukudu and Early Mabuza), Brian Poole & the Tremeloes (from the UK), Una Valli, Cy Sacks and George Hayden.

Correction: Thanks to an email from Richard Laws we can correct this as follows: "We wrapped the film on my 18th birthday, May 15, 1964 (not, as is stated, in 1965), so to say that it was an attempt to somehow emulate "A Hard Days Night" would be incorrect. The two films were shot at approximately the same time. As the Couriers, we couldn't have seen The Beatles film until its release in London in July, 1964." 

Thursday 22 September (18:30) – panel discussion
SA cult albums, divine sounds? This panel discussion addresses the notion of “cult” for a work of popular art. The 1968 song Yakhal' Inkomo by Winston "Mankunku" Ngozi is one of the best possible examples of a record achieving cult status. But what does it mean? And which social and political factors are at work to make such a work cult? Moderator: Brenda Sisane (Kaya fm) Panellists: Percy Mabandu, Lloyd Ross, other panellists to be confirmed.

Friday 23 September (18:30) – Film screening
Jiving And Dying - The Radio Rats Story (Michael Cross): Twenty-five years in the making, this film introduces the music of Radio Rats and the words of Jonathan Handley in an attempt to afford them the place they deserve in the history of independent rock ’n’ roll in South Africa.

Wednesday 28 September (18:30) – lecture
A Brief History of the SA Musical Industry (presented by Rob Allingham): This talk will cover a century of producing, marketing and distributing local music, from the early years to the greatest successes and to the downward trends of the present.

Friday 30 September (18:30) – Film screening
Future sounds of Mzansi (Nthato Mokgata & Lebogang Rasethaba): Future Sounds of Mzansi is a documentary which aims to explore, express, and interrogate South Africa's cultural landscape, 20 years into its democracy... A chief vehicle of this exploration is electronic music, a staple of South African popular culture. The film explores the past, present and future of the scene and its multiple sub-genres, presented through the eyes of internationally acclaimed artist Spoek Mathambo.

September Jive is promoted by Alliance Francais in partnership with SAMRO Foundation, Institu Francais, Afrique du Sud.

For more information check out this link HERE 

Monday 8 August 2016

African Music Show #3: East and southern Africa

Time for another dig into the archives of Australia’s pioneering African Music Show, aired on 16th May 1984, and weaving networks that only the future might see. This was the time before  African music hit mainstream Western ears, this was before Youssou N'Dour’s Immigres was released, even two years before Paul Simon’s  Graceland album. Granted, it was a little while after King Sunny Ade’s “Juju Music” had already made waves with Island Records.

African musicians were moving though, and it was radio shows such as this one that helped shine spotlights into new territories. In this two-hour show Tony Hunter and Geoff King talk about and play music coming out of the Nairobi Hub of Congolese music in the early 1980s. They chat about London beginning to notice African music, and wonder if the African “hub” might shift from Paris to London.  The second half of the show heads south, skipping via Zimbabwean Rhumba, through Thomas Mapfumo, to end with a few different styles from South Africa at the time, including “The Call is Heard” from Amandla – The ANC’s Cultural Group in exile.

It was at this time in London, thirty two years ago, that Jumbo Van Renen was breaking ground with the Earthworks record label he founded in 1983. In his book “Sounds Like London: 100 Years of Black Music in the Capital”, Lloyd Bradley describes Jumbo as “ a perpetually genial South African and lover of music from all over that continent, who arrived in London at the start of the 1980s.” 

Jumbo actually arrived in London in 1972 and worked as A&R for Virgin and Frontline records, landing the likes of Dudu Pukwana and the Spears, Jabula, Orchestra Makassy, Orchestra Super Mazembe, as well as working with reggae bands, The Gladiators, The Twinkle Brothers and I-Roy, amongst others.

Already, new webs were spinning to new worlds. Tony Hunter  arrives in London towards the end of 1983 and meets Jumbo, and of course buys a pile of records. Jumbo had just released Thomas Mapfumo’s “Ndangariro” on the Earthworks label. The music press were warming up. Jumbo was
“working the connections”. Tony wrote an article on “Chimurenga and Mapfumo’s music” for the very influential Black Music and Jazz Review Magazine (edited by Chris May).

Lloyd Bradley describes a growing London vibe oozing with confidence from the hip pan-African Limpopo Lounge (at the Africa Centre), “it was hardly going to take a series of marketing meetings to work out that African could be ‘the new black’. So to speak.”

Two of the tracks featured on this radio show come off those Earthworks albums Tony bought from Jumbo, hot off the press at the time: Thomas Mapfumo’s “Ndangariro” and Orchestra Super Mazembe’s big hit “Shauriyako” (your problem).

If you have somewhere to drive why not tune your car radio back thirty two years and be curious to find of an Australian radio show showcasing African music hits from the early 80s? 

Download links:

Monday 1 August 2016

Light Blue: Footprint (1978)

Jazz, fusion, funk, and a little pop creatively blended together in a South African pot to produce a tight and sumptuous five-piece mystery blend. I say mystery as there is no detail on the album of who the members of this tight outfit were.

Lofty Schultz, credited with writing the title track, was busy producing Malombo’s epic album “Sangoma” in 1978. In his own right Lofty was a very handy saxophonist and flautist. Eric Norgate, who wrote the second track, “Funk Junk” played trumpet alongside Lofty in the band “Profile”, that also included Hennie Bekker (keyboards) Johnny Fourie (guitar) Johnny Boschoff (bass) and Kevin Kruger (drums) in the first half of the 1970s. So, my opening informed guess is that Lofty Schultz and Eric Norgate comprise the brass component of this band.

The other two tracks on this gem of an album were written by Cape Towner Nol Klinkhammer who played keyboards for the Square Set in the 1960s, but also played bass for Joihn E Sharpe’s “Sharpe Set”.

Keyboard player Robert Payne who played with all of the above in the second incarnation of "Profile" does not think that it is Nol Klinkhammer featured on this album. It is likely that the keyboard player is Hennie Bekker, on probably his last gig before he left for London to record the album Prisoners On The Line with folk-rock group Magna CartaRob Payne is most certain that the bass player is Johnny Boschoff, and that the drummer is possibly Tony Moore.

 Lofty Schultz was murdered in Johannesburg around fifteen years ago - one source says it happened when he was getting into or out of a car, while another says the murder took place at his mother's house, and all his musical equipment was stolen in the process.

Blue: Footprint
CBS JG 122
CRC 2203

Download link here