Friday, September 30, 2011

Zulu Jive Umbaqanga (1983)

Today I present a superb collection of diverse music from relatively unknown South African artists. This was the second record published by the nascent Earthworks label, almost two decades ago, and it stands alongside the label's two subsequent The Indestructible Beat of Soweto releases, among the best compilations of SA music from that era.

What I appreciate in this collection is the selection of groups exhibiting four distinct styles. The album opens with classic Zulu guitar mbaqanga from Aaron Mbambo, with a lovely female chorus; he adds screechy fiddle on his second cut. Is that Noise Khanyile? Joshua Sithole, perhaps the best known of the artists on this label, pairs his guitar with the swirling township organ that was such a feature of Lucky Dube's reggae. The four cuts from Sithole are a world apart from his soul workout presented recently on ElectricJive. The Rainbows play accelerated guitar and accordion instrumentals, while Shoba pairs Zulu guitar with penny whistle, squeezebox and singing.

Unfortunately little information is available on the records; there is no detailed band info, no indication of where the tracks were recorded or when, not even the name of a compiler or producer. We just have to thank them all, the musicians especially, for this fine listen.


Apurva Bahadur said...

Very nice happy music. Many thanks for sharing. Apurva from Pune, India.

david said...

There are no credits on the sleeve because Earthworks simply licensed and re-released an existing South African compilation. Common to SA compilations of the time, no details were printed apart from track and artist names. The Indestructible Beat broke this pattern by being the first "original" SA compilation by Earthworks, hence full credits, liner notes and musicians where known.

Rhythm Connection said...

thanks a lot for the information, David.

Nicolas said...

Thank you Thank you Thank you I bought this album in 1986 in Melbourne and since the demise on my turntable I have been longing to hear it again and thought I would Google "zulu jive umbaqanga " before looking for someone to transfer my lp to mp3.
cant wait to open the file.

David said...

A cheery, "fine listen" indeed: isn't it strange how fine bands can leave almost no trace?! Thank you for this transfer (a lovely transfer too!). I even persuaded my little boy to listen on the basis it's Zulu music: maybe one day he'll come around...!!

David (but not the same one as above!)