Tuesday, May 20, 2008
UPDATE (22:55 GMT on Wed 21 May): The download link has now been removed as promised (after 106 downloads). I'm hoping it will become available again at a later stage either here or in another form.
I am delighted that Jonathan Ward, 78 collector extraordinaire, and owner of the Excavated Shellac site, agreed to do a guest posting and provide a compilation tracking some of the urban styles of the 60s in South Africa.
Phata Phata: 78rpm Records from the Birth of Mbaqanga
"I was first hooked on 1960s South African jive and mbaqanga music when I bought a copy of the late-60s Mercury Records collection Ice Cream and Suckers on LP. I listened to it relentlessly, I grilled other record collectors about it, I recommended it to anyone with a pulse. I had started collecting earlier 78s of music from across the world whenever and wherever I could find them, so I began picking up these later South African 78s too, and was lucky enough to find a few modest caches in pristine condition. I was instantly enamored.
"By the early 1960s, what was considered African jazz began to sound stripped down and harder-edged, with electric instruments being introduced. The big band sound of the 1950s faded away, as did kwela, the popular pennywhistle-focused offshoot of South African jazz. The music was simple, repetitive. This caused consternation among the old guard, including sax player Michael Xaba, who is widely credited with derogatorily calling this new brand of music mbaqanga – a term which I’ve read literally means “porridge,” “dumpling,” or “the poorman’s soup.” However, if you were buying indigenous South African pop music during the 1960s, you would not see the term mbaqanga anywhere – much of it was called jive. Written on record labels were things like “African jive,” “Zulu jive,” “Vocal jive,” “Sax jive,” and “Jive S’modern.” Ice Cream and Suckers called it “Township jazz.” The term mbaqanga would not rise above its initial derogatory meaning until later.
"78rpm records in the 1960s? Yes, throughout the 1960s, long after nearly every other country with a record industry had abandoned the speed, South Africa was still predominantly marketing 78s. The 45 had taken off with flying colors from Ghana to Kenya, but it took a number of years before the same happened in South Africa. I’m not positive the reason, but I’m sure it has something to do with wide access to new stereo equipment (the same is true of India).
"Archaic playing speeds notwithstanding, the postwar record industry in South Africa was thriving. Sure, there were the big players who had been recording in South Africa since the 1930s: HMV, Columbia, and Africa’s very first independent record label, Gallotone. But the late 40s and 50s brought a slew of independents: Trutone, Quality, Troubadour, and Emvee. Gallotone introduced a subsidiary called New Sound. A record pressing plant in Zimbabwe had opened. On came more small labels, such as Winner, Tempo, Stokvel, F.M., Tee Vee, Drum, Motella, and more. While hundreds of kwela recordings were made in the 50s, literally thousands of mbaqanga/jive records were made in the 60s. Many appear to be studio musicians and vocalists recording under different names, over and over again!
"It’s not sacrilegious to admit that many of those jive and mbaqanga records do sometimes sound the same. So, for this collection I chose my favorites. There are a few well-known artists (Miriam Makeba), but many are relatively, if not completely obscure. There are a couple of nods to kwela (Holom Toe Swingsters), and a nod or two to mid-century African jazz (Transvaal Rockin’ Jazz Stars), but the bulk of this collection consists of the songs I could not get out of my head (Ngiyeke Mfana by the Jabulani Quads), the songs I listened to over and over and over, hypnotized (Banomona by the Zoo Lake Rockers), the songs that sounded raw (Same to You by the Hamanskraal Magic Group), the songs that sounded positively anthemic (Siyahamba by the Flying Jazz Queens), and anything else that hit me right. I even transferred two tracks from my collection which also appeared on that long out of print Ice Cream and Suckers record. And while in many respects this music represented big musical change in South Africa, there has to be a place for it. Not enough of it has seen the light of day. I hope you enjoy them!"
1. Jabulani Quads – Ngiyeke Mfana
2. Mr. Dube – Mr. Dube No.13
3. Flying Jazz Queens – Siyahamba
4. Scorpion Boys and Tiny Gumede – Umandla
5. Transvaal Rockin’ Jazz Stars – Swaziland
6. Hamanskraal Magic Group – Same to You
7. The Killingstone Stars – Phata Phata
8. The Rain Drops – Uyephi
9. Holom Toe Swingsters – Silver Pipe
10. Miriam Makeba & the Skylarks with Spokes Mashiyane – Uile Ngoan’a Batho
11. Trotting Sisters – Eswaziui
12. Jarvis Magubane – Soweto Yo Yo
13. Zoo Lake Rockers – Banomona
14. Intombi Zodwa – Ziyabuya
15. Trutone Dolls – Jojo in School
16. Mr. Dube – Mr. Dube No. 6
17. Jabulani Quads – Sweetie Love
18. Hamenskraal Magic Group – Via Rissik
19. Rand Rollers – Ujwala
20. Kid Ma Wrong Wrong with the S.D.V. Swing Band – Rock Phata 1500
21. The Beauty Queens – Kuyashisa
22. Spy Smasher – Evaton Malobola
23. Smokey Aces with Lilly Diamini – Noma Ungangishiya
24. Abahambi – Mahotella Park Station
25. Mr. Dube – Mr. Dube No. 5
26. Nobesutho and Gcaba Twins – Ibhande Lami
STRICTLY LIMITED DOWNLOAD NOW EXPIRED! SORRY FOLKS...106 OF YOU WERE LUCKY TO GET IT WHILST IT LASTED
For more sounds in a similar vein seek out the Manhattan Brothers and Dark City Sisters compilations on Sterns as well as the Miriam Makeba and the Skylarks compilation on Teal/Gallo. Alternatively I suggest you search out the folowing mainly US vinyl releases via eBay or GEMM:
at 11:12 PM