Tuesday 29 November 2016

Usathane Usifikile!: EJ Durban Office Party 2016

Oh believers gather around and start praying, for the devil has arrived!” Joseph Kumalo is not alone in blaming the devil for ‘changes’ he is not happy with. For Kumalo, South African cities in the early 1960s were dens of iniquity corrupting the traditions and values of rural folk. Drinking, smoking marijuana, gambling, fighting were the work of the devil.

We have all encountered a few “devils” of our own this year, and I thought it a good time to dig through my ‘new finds’ for a year-end Office Party shake-out. Welcome to a bumper edition of the Electric Jive 2016 Durban Office Party. Sadly, unexpected changes to my work-travel commitments prevent me from actually spinning these discs, as planned, at the Electric Jive Office Party at Khaya Records on Friday 9th December. A party of one sort or another is still happening though. "Familiar Favourite" (Mxolisi Makubho) and Hotdog Fingarz of Fly Machine Sessions are keeping their part of the bargain and will be coming through from Johannesburg with some great tunes on vinyl. Make a note: Khaya Records, Durban – Friday evening 9th December. I will leave a gift for the first thirty or so people who make it through the door. Thanks to Vusi of The Fly Machine Sessions for the graphic at the top of this post!

So, herewith two hours of what I would have played, if I could have. First up is a one-hour trip that sets off from the countryside with guitar and vocal commentary from the late 1950s, early 60s, building up via violin jive through Zulu blues, to early rock and roll. Victor Ndlazilwana (later of Jazz Ministers fame) is credited with writing and playing on “Please do it oh Baby”, a song that would not have been out of place on an Elvis album from that time.

The merriment builds, morphing from rock-influenced marabi jive through to big-band ska from the likes of Orlando Jazz Combo. Have a listen to Chris McGregor and the Blue Notes playing Dudu Pukwana’s “Ndiyeke Mra” and check out the strong ska influence! Likewise, Africa’s Hot Ten (including Kippie Moeketsi and other jazz luminaries) showcase the deep well of great talent and technical dedication from the time.

The mix changes direction, revisiting some great brass-driven marabi jive tracks from the likes of “The New Havana Orchestra, The Shakers, and the The Kwa Mashu Swingsters”. We warm down with the sweet vocals of the “Dark City Sisters” and end as we began, artists referencing “Inhliziyo Yam” (my disposition, or mood). Whereas Job Ndlangalala starts this set with a hauntingly beautiful  guitar track telling of the circumstances that were ‘killing’ his mood, The Shakers end-off with an upbeat simple finale.

So – if you feel the need to cleanse, purge, indulge, exorcise, dance, this mix can help. The 78rpm recordings are being shared as a single mix-tape. Sorry, no separated tracks on this one.

I wish all visitors to Electric Jive happy holidays, and a much, much better 2017!

1.     The Play Singer: Hambabamfana. (Job Ndlangalala) Columbia YE208.
2.     The Play Singer: U Ngi Cebe E Poisen. (Job Ndlangalala) Columbia YE129.
3.     Joseph Khumalo: Usathani Sefikile. (Joseph Khumalo) Quality TJ.855.
4.     Nongomo Trio: Zulu Violin Special. (Nongomo Trio) Columbia YE.333.
5.     Gumede's Happy Violin: Thatha Jou (J. Gumede) Gallotone Jive GB.3212.
6.     Stanley Caluza: Sengimtholile. (Stanley Caluza) Columbia YE392.
7.     Daisy Newman: Abafana. (Daisy Newman) Winner OK.051.
8.     Cooper & The Black Be-Bop Sisters: Ebusuku Nemini (Theodora Ngcongo) Winner OK.114.
9.     Merebank Youngsters: Ngiyazisola (Merebank Youngsters) Columbia YE.85.
10.  The Bogard Brothers: Che Boogie Here. (L. Motau) His Master's Voice JP.750.
11.  Big Rock Chaka: Please Do It Oh Baby (Victor Ndlazilwana). Tropik DC.751.
12.  Almon's Jazz Kings: Uyidoda (Almon Memela) Gallo USA USA280.
13.  Orlando Jazz Combo: Imbasha (Percy Gumbi) Gallo USA USA304.
14.  Chris McGregor & His Blue Notes: Ndiyeke Mra (Dudu Phukwana) Winner OK.125.
15.  Africa's Hot Ten: Club 600 (E. Williams) Winner OK.001.
16.  Christopher and his Home Swingsters: T. Time Ska (Chris Songxaka) Gallo New Sound GB3581.
17.  Sofasonke Swingsters: Umlahla (Edmund Piliso) His Master's Voice JP.857.
18.  Cooper & The Black Be-Bop Sisters: Vat en Sit (Gloria Malete) Winner OK.114.
19.  Zee Zee Jazz Appointment: Jazz Palace (Rupert Bopape) His Master's Voice JP.741.
20.  The New Havana Orchestra: City Phata (Ngubane) Troubadour AFC.605.
21.  The Shakers: Shake Shake No. 1 (Busi) Troubadour AFC.643
22.  Kwa Mashu Swingsters: Siyanda (Roland Mqwebu) RCA.250.
23.  The City Dazzlers: Ngenye Mini (The City Dazzlers) HIT.120.
24.  The Dark City Sisters: Tap Tap Ntshebe (Zeph Nkabinde, Michael Xaba, Rupert Bopape, Elijah Nkwanyane) His Master's Voice JP.700.
25.  The Shakers: Intlyizo Yam.(Busi) Troubadour AFC.643.

The second one-hour set is drawn from 45rpm, most of which found their way to my drawers this year. Seventies South African soul, funk, pop, jazz and then some mbaqanga to round it all off.

1. The V.I.P.sMaxie's Mood. (M. Kubekha, I. Twala). Love Love LVB220.
2. The Anchors: Friends In Soul. (The Anchors). CYB69. (1969).
3. The Inn Lawes: Peter and Zacks Special (Peter Morake, Zacks Kgasapane) CBS AB 326.
4. S. Piliso & His Super Seven: Papa Was A Rolling Stone (Whitfield and Strong) FGB625 (1973).
5. Cool Cats: Wilderness (Gilbert Matthews, G. Sabela) Soweto SWB 4 (1973).
6.  The Special Sounds:  Mngani (Rupert Bopape and Shadrach Piliso) Soul Jazz Pop SOJ 2 (1974),
7. Cool Cats:  See You Later (P. Nkosi, B. Kgasoane) Soweto SWB 4 (1973).
8. The Black Pages: There Goes (N. Makua, E. Kheswa, G. Molefi). Soul Jazz Pop SOJ 140 (1977).
9. S. Piliso & His Super Seven: Umgababa (Edmund Piliso & Themba Dlamini) FGB625 (1973).
10. Bops and Son: Chicken Soul (D. Mchunu) MJW Records MJW.107 (1976).
11. Inthuthuko Brothers: Soweto Disco (S. Jibiliza)Black Cherry BCS110 1978.
12. Shumi: Gideon, Early & McKay (Holler/Arr: Masingi) BUA8803 (1974).
13. Jazz Disciples: Tete’s Jump (Tete Mbambisa) HMV JP887 (1967).
14. Rift Valley Brothers: Mutirima Waka (Lawrence Nduku) Mercury MER11.
15. Abafana Bentuthuko: Double Line (Hansford Mthembu) AB666.
16. John Mkhabela and the Fire Wizards: Umdidyelo (J Nhlapo) GGB456 (1971).
17. The Play Boys:  Cross Road (D. Mokoka - M. Maliehe) JP1338 (1973).
18. Izintombi Zomoya: Oseke Walla (Rupert Bopape and Irene Mawela) Motella MO 522 (1974).
19. Abafana Besi Manje Manje: Bathini Nzimande (Hamilton Nzimande) HVN NZ.68 (1974).
20. Johanes Lenkoe with the Suger Suger Boys: NU 3 (Johannes Lenkoe) Six Mabone SMB 728 (1975).
21. Makhona Zonke Band: Durban Road. (
22. The Creations:  Wild Man in the City (Manu Dibango) PD 1270 (1976).

Download links:
78rpm mix-tape 
45rpm mix-tape 
45rpm separated tracks 

Sunday 20 November 2016

Slow Sunday Congo Singles Special

A sultry, slow and unhurried Sunday morning selection from the ASL drawers. Earlyish Congo Rumba, all except the last was pressed and sold in Kenya. A while back in this blog there was a great response to three posts of ASL Congo singles (here, here, and here) so, this next instalment is long overdue. This time with some focus on a deep breath (it does that for me anyway) before the year-end madness.The mixtape version is for my own comfort during some upcoming travel time I have to put in. Separated tracks are also provided.

 In my September 2012 ASL Singles post I gave an outline of South African interests, particularly the Gallo Record Company’s interests in establishing ASL.

Gallo Nairobi was established in the early 1950s. Following Kenya’s independence in 1963 visible South African ownership of the company became a problem, so Associated Sounds (East Africa) Pty Ltd (ASL) was set up as a dummy company by Gallo in the United Kingdom. ASL had their own Kenyan pressing plant.

ASL certainly released a huge amount of Congolese and East African inspired Rumba and Soukous in the 70s and 80s, with the tracks easily stretching to five minutes each on the micro-groove format.

Enjoy your Sunday morning, or late night, whenever you feel like being soothed.

1. L'Orchestre African Fiesta: Chantal Komonela Ngai (Test Pressing ASL 1870)
2. Chantal & L’Orchestre African Fiesta: Doris (ASL 7-1845)
3. Dr Nico & L’Orchestre African Fiesta: Okosuka Wapi (ASL 7-1924)
4. Sylis & L’Orchestre Baby National: Luntala (ASL 7-1012)
5. Vicky & L’Orchestre Les Hi-Fives: Sijakuacha (ASL 7-102)
6. Vicky & L'Orchestre O.K. Jazz: Dodo Tuna Motema (ASL 7-3090)
7. Vicky & L'Orchestre O.K. Jazz: Monoko Oyo Ezali Na Ngai (ASL 7-3090)
8. Youlou & L’Orchestre O.K. Jazz: Bolingo Nouveate (ASL 7– 3159)
9. Verckys & L'Orchestre Veve: Ah Ngai Matinda (ASL 7-3174)
10. Baba National (Baba Gaston): Noel Nakalemi (ASL 7-151)
11. Orch Mptete Wa Mpete: Bonne Na Noel Pts 1 & 2 (ASL 4375)
12. Orchestre Afrisa: Mbote Ya Kinvwanga Pts 1 & 2 (African 91 620)

Mixtape download link here
Separate tracks link 

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Nairobi Rumba Singles Splash

One comfort in an otherwise unsettling year has been my own luck in finding some great second-hand records – 78rpm, 45rpm and LPs. I had the good fortune of visiting Nairobi three times this year, and meeting a long-time Congo-Kenya Rhumba collector who no longer wanted to keep his vinyl collection, he wanted this music in digital format. So, come the summer holiday break I will be spending some time keeping my promise to him. Before I share with you my start on that project, I must mention two great compilations of Kenyan music that have this year been released world-wide. The sound reproduction on both compilations is really excellent. My personal favourite is “Urgent Jumping: East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics” which features 27 tracks spanning close on two and a half hours of music from Kenyan, Tanzanian and Congolese bands that plied their trade across the region over the period 1972 - 1982.

 “Kenya Special Volume 2” follows the successful release by Soundway Records of volume one in 2013. This compilation offers 20 tracks (90 minutes) sampling a wider variety of Kenyan music in the 1970s and 1980s.

 Soundway reckon that the resurgence of interest in African music from the 1960s to the 1980s is boosted by a curious new generation of music lovers: “The approach to musical rediscovery that is behind Kenya Special has its origins in a youthful movement of vinyl collecting (and to some extent club culture), which has, in the past decade and a half, carved out its own niche alongside the established music industry.”

“Despite the renewed interest in music from Kenya’s past, finding these tracks and their rights holders hasn’t become any easier. Only a handful of music archives around the world harbour collections of Kenyan music, and just a few private collectors in Kenya and abroad have been sharing catalogue info online or privately. One of the problems with East African music of this era is that much of it was originally released only on 45 rpm, seven-inch vinyl singles, many of which were only ever produced in tiny runs of a few hundred. 45s with their thin, paper sleeves do not age as well as LPs and are often far more susceptible to the elements. The compilers of Kenya Special 2 have gone to great lengths to disclose a small part of what is slowly being accepted as an essential element of East Africa’s cultural heritage: the history of recorded popular music.”

So, herewith a rather random sampling from the pile of 45rpms that Henry sold me. Do leave a comment if you would like more of the same.

1. Orch Bana Likasi: Lena Pts 1 & 2 (Kanema)
Outstanding vocalist Lovy Mokolo Longomba was the son of Vicky Longomba, a founding member of OK Jazz. The Muzikifan website (well worth a visit) tells us that Longomba moved to Nairobi in August 1978 and went through a string of bands, from Les Kinois, through Boma Liwanza, to Orch Shika Shika. He then formed the band Super Lovy in May 1981. Bana Likasi was the same band as Super Lovy, but was so named to avoid a contractual conflict. Longomba died in 1996 in a car crash in Tanzania.

2. Orch. Les Jaca: Sikia Pts 1 & 2 (Ligbutu)
This from the Muzikifan website: “Les Jaca was created by Lovy (Longomba) when he decided to leave Super Mazembe in 1981. He went into the studio with Siama, Tabu Frantal, Mandefu, Roy Mosanda and other friends, but the attempt bore no fruit, so Lovy remained with Super Mazembe.”

3. L'Orch Baba National: Vituko Vya Mama Mkwe Pts 1 & 2 (Baba Gaston)
One of the first Congolese musicians to settle in East Africa (in 1971), first in Dar Es Salam, and then in 1976 in Nairobi. Some reports indicate that Baba Gaston was not the easiest band leader to work with, and in July 1976 most his band walked out on him to form their own band, the highly successful Les Mangalepa. Baba Gaston remained a super star in Nairobi until his retirement in 1989.

4. Orch Les Wanyika: Nisaidie Baba Pts 1 & 2 (D.J. Ngereza) 1980.
An offshoot of Simba Wanyika formed by a group of Kenyan and Tanzanian musicians left the band to form Les Wanyika. Famous for classic Swahili rumba hit hits like Sina Makossa, Paulina and Pamela (these singles were even sold in South Africa at the time). Band leader and guitarist John Ngereza composed this song. In 2010, ten years after Ngereza died, four surviving members put aside their differences and re-grouped and started playing again. You can read about the reunion of Rashid Juma, Alfani Tommy Malanga, Sijali Zuwa ‘Usikajali’ and Joseph Justy ‘Yellow Man’ here.

5. Les Volcano: Hakuna Dawa Ya Mapenzi Pts 1 & 2 (Charles Ray Kasembe)

6. Orch Les Volcano: Tumonye Mwanangu Pts 1 & 2 (Charles Ray Kasembe)

Another off-shoot band though the details are not as clear. – this time from Super Volcano. Some sources say that Les Volcano were co-founded by Charles Ray Kasembe and Mohamed Mazingazinga in 1976. Info on the Kentanza site suggests that Les Volcano came about following the death of Mbaraka Mwinishe (leader of Super Volcano) in 1979. Doug Paterson sees it the same way: " 
I don't think Les Volcano was a group until after the death of Mbaraka Mwinshehe.  I think Mbaraka started Super Volcano after leaving Morogoro Jazz (in about 1974?).  After Mbaraka died, Ray Charles Kasembe tried to keep a subset of Super Volcano members together under the name Les Volcanos.  I don't think this group existed prior to Mbaraka's death (I could be mistaken).  I never had the opportunity to see Super Volcano, though I went to the Kenya coast try to find them in 1975 (just missed them)." Thanks Doug.
7. Orch. Super Bwambe: Atikapo Pts 1 & 2
Muzikifan tells us that John Negereza of Les Wanyika was a member of this Congolese band that also included: George Kalombo Mwanza, sax; John Ngereza, guitar; Chou chou, vocals; Kayembe Nyonga, vocals; Luboya wa Tshiteyai; Matabu Kunyanga. With Thomy Lomboto, bass, and Kabeya Ilombo from Viva Makale.

8. Orchestre Matonge: Pesa Moselebende Pts 1 & 2 (Jean-Claude K)

Named after the musical heart of Congo Kinshasa, this was another of the bands that sold really well in Nairobi. I cannot find much info on this band, though Tim Clifford on the ever useful Kentanza Vinyl site says that the Kamanyola label is named “after an area in eastern DRC Congo close to the Rwandan border. The name featured heavily in Mobutu’s Zaire as in 1964 it was where the young army officer led troops in the capture of a rebel-held bridge. When he rose to power, he named the presidential yacht, an army division and Kinshasa’s sports stadium (now the Stade des Martyrs) after this victory. There is still a Boulevard Kamanyola in Lubumbashi. Appropriately enough, one of the roads leading off it is the Avenue des Chutes - Falls or Collapses Avenue.”
Download link here

Friday 11 November 2016

Stereo Festival of East Africa: (1977)

Kenyan visitors to Electric Jive rank right up there up at number nine in this blog’s all-time per-country hits, just ahead of Colombia at number ten. Now feels like a good time to celebrate some more of what current-day Kenyans call the “golden oldies” – the Congo-Kenya confluence back in 1976.

This somewhat strange compilation LP features an A side with sound effects recordings, and the B side a selection of five great tracks  associated somehow with the “African Conference Nairobi January 1976.”

If you are interested in learning more about Kenya’s rich musical history, there are some great blogs and archives out there. For starters try some of these: Doug Patterson’s East African Music page; Alistair Johnson’s Muzikifan;  and Tim Clifford’s KenTanza Vinyl.
1. Orchestre Simba Wanyika - Kijana Tushrikiane

2. Orchestre Super Volcano - Hasira Punguza

3. Orchestre Baba National - Kai Kai

4. Orchestre Mazembe - Nakokufa Pamba

5. Orchestre Apollo Komesha '71 - Mombasa Kuzuri
Download link: here

Saturday 5 November 2016

A Tribute to Henry Sithole and Bunny Luthuli: The Drive (1977)

A special recording. Besides being comprised of some outstanding funk-fusion meets early disco numbers featuring Bheki Mseleku and the rest of this talented band, these are the last recordings with the core band intact, made only two weeks before Henry Sithole and Bunny Luthuli were killed in a car crash.

Plenty has been written on this blog and elsewhere on this fine band. If you use the "search" function in the right-hand column you will find links to much more info and earlier albums.

Before "The Drive", the Sithole brothers formed the brass core of the Heshoo Beshoo group. Luthuli played with Almon's Jazz 8. After The Drive, various members went on to form Sakhile, and also Spirits Rejoice. And of course, there is the stellar rise to international fame of Bheki Mseleku.

The liner notes tell us that The Drive were on the brink of an "overseas tour" breakthrough.

"Right at the peak of their dazzling career when plans were laid to take the group overseas to engagements that would pace the way for international success - a fatal car accident claimed the live of the two who had worked so hard to achieve this these goals. Bunny Luthuli was married only a few months before his death. Henry Sithole leaves a wife and four children."

"Join us in remembering these two outstanding musicians through their music in this recording - made only two short weeks before their tragic death."

Like a number of other Drive albums, there is no record of who the musicians were. When the band formed in 1971, Duke Makasi and Mike Makhalamele were early members. Kaya Mahlangu, Sipho Gumede and Jabu Nkosi also spent time as members. As far as I can make out though, from around 1975 through to 1977 the band was pretty stable member-wise. One album that does list and picture the band members is the 1975 album "Can You feel It?".  Based on this, my guess is as follows: The lead female vocalist featured is almost certainly Mavis Maseko.

Henry Sithole - Band leader: Alto Sax
Stanley Sithole - Tenor and baritone sax
David Sithole - Trumpet
Bunny Luthuli - Guitar
Bheki Mseleku - Synthesiser, hammond piano and electric organ
Nelson Magwaza - Drums, percussion and congas
Tony Sauli - bass

Orlando Stadium Soweto 19th Jan 1976 support acts - The Drive with Annalene Malebo, Lucky Mabaso Bunny Luthuli, Temba (?), Tony Soali, Nelson Magwaza, Lucky Mbatha, Mavis Maseku, the Sithole Brothers Stanley, Danny & Henry. Photo by David Marx 
Slow Drive to Soweto (c1971, AYL 1009)
The Sky's The Limit (1975, RCL 1201)
Can You Feel It (1975, RCL 1202)
Drive Live (1975, RCL 1203)
Coming To The End of This (1976, RCL 1208)
Zone 6 (1976, RCL 1215)
A Tribute to Henry Sithole and Bunny Luthuli (1977, RCL 1216)
Lets Cool it (1980, BL271)

1. Mama We (Henry Sithole) 6.07
2. Sala Ngoxolo (Henry Sithole) 2.57
3. Let's Have a Ball (Bunny Luthuli) 8.36
4. Thando's Mood (Bunny Luthuli) 16.24

Download link here.