Good day to y’all. Great was my surprise when my good friend John from PE in South Africa walked in with the record ‘Kwela with Lemmy’.
This 10” record contains 8 tracks by rather obscure Kwela artists like Little Lemmy Special and Big Joe, Solven Whistlers, Specks Rampura. Even greater was my joy when the same day I went digging for vinyl at the local charity shop and discovered the album ‘Something New From Africa’.
The tracklisting of this album is almost identical to the 10” and further inspection learned that ‘Kwela with Lemmy’ is the South African release as 10” record of the album ‘Something New From Africa’ that came out in the UK in 1959 as an extended album with 10 songs instead of 8.
At the start of the album you will hear the Solven Whistlers say ‘something new in Africa’; that was logical enough as for when the record was made Kwela was only just emerging from its origins on the street corners of Johannesburg, and its appearance in Europe was scarcely thought of. That it went through a fad stage once it had arrived in the UK is understandable, for Kwela was seized upon by the craze manufacturers who were at that time making a rather untidy job of burying rock’n roll and were looking for a successor. But the fad was quite a small one and Kwela, as a vogue, went the way of calypso and the mambo. But that doesn’t mean that Kwela was completely finished; like many other musical form which does not fit into the main scheme of popular music, it has it’s following, it’s own special character and an important and interesting place in the history of South African popular music.
musical selections from the album ‘Something New From Africa’ Decca Mono LK 4292, released in the UK in 1959
‘Kwela With Lemmy’ Gallo GLP 119 released in South Africa in 1959