Mbaqanga developed in the South African shebeens during the 1960s. Its use of western instruments allowed mbaqanga to develop into a South African version of jazz. Musically, the sound indicated a mix between western instrumentation and South African vocal style. Many mbaqanga scholars consider it to be the result of a coalition between marabi and kwela. Check YEBO! Zulu Vocal & Jive, Marabi Jive pt 3 for ‘Lobola Mgca’ by Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje.
Here is a 45 by an another band that uses the same name but only with a slightly different spelling; Izinsizwa Zesi Manje Manje. Can it be the backing band of Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje without the singers??
‘Tarfontein’ spells African Jazz, it’s an instrumental and the date of release is unknown, I guess this was released between 1967-1969.
Simon ‘Mahlathini’ Nkabinde (1938 – July 27, 1999) became perhaps the most influential and well-known South African “groaner” of the twentieth century who formed the Mahlathini Queens outfit to record as a studio unit for the Gallo Record Company. During the late 60’s mbaqanga evolved into the more danceable mgqashiyo sound when bassist Joseph Makwela, from the group Makhona Tsohle Band and guitarist Marks Mankwane joined forces with Mahlathini. Their music soon became a national sensation, pioneering mgqashiyo all over the country to great success.
1967 saw the arrival of Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje, an mgqashiyo female group that provided intense competition for the Mahotella Queens. Both groups were massive competitors in the jive field, though the Queens usually came out on top.
‘Awufuni Ukulandela Na?’ by Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje and ‘Umkhovu’ by Mahlathini & The Queens are featured on ‘Next Stop Soweto’, a new compilation by Strut that was released at the beginning of March 2010.
The people at Strut have done a great job; immaculate choice of material, great restoring of the original 45’s, good cover art…even the pressing sounds excellent.
But why does some of the chosen material sounds so distorted?? Is it the mastering? Restoration of the original recordings??
This question can only be answered by listening to the original recordings and after doing so, I have to admit that some of the tracks on this compilation were recorded either in poor conditions or possibly by speedy producers who wanted to record as many tunes as possible within the limited time scale of a studio rented for the day.
Many titles are by totally obscure groups whose singles were short lived whilst other groups like Mahotella Queens and Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje gained popularity during their careers and who became South Africa’s best known popular artists.
‘Next stop Soweto’ comes as a double vinyl package whilst the CD package features an extensive booklet featuring detailed notes by compiler Francis Gooding alongside many previously unseen archive photos.
compiled by Duncan Brooker and Francis Gooding
Volumes 2 and 3 will be released across Spring and Summer 2010 and cover rare SA soul, funk & Hammond R&B and jazz