updated 5th June 2012
reader Stuart Krause wrote some interesting comment on my previous post Percy Sledge in South Africa 1970 and I’d like to share it with you. Keep sending your comments, it’s inspiring and well appreciated. Thanks Stuart!
by Stuart Krause
there is an LP called Soul Africa featuring Percy Sledge on all tracks. I found it on ebay after looking for quite some time. It was a soundtrack to a film and some of the tracks were recorded at Capricorn studios. Paul Hornsby, record producer, remembers this film being made and says the masters are still on reel to reel tape and stored at Capricorn studios. There are tracks by Percy not found anywhere else, for example “Swazi Lady” and “Sister Soul”, written by Jackie Avery, Capricorn Studios in house song writer. I did speak to Hornsby about this a few years ago, so I did get first hand info. The film was produced by a guy named Lazarus. you cannot find it anywhere. I would say this would be a rare find if you search enough. I believe the album came out in 1971. I have it here if anyone has more questions about it. I’m just glad someone else knows of its existence.
Of course I was titillated to find the described album, a soundtrack by Percy Sledge and his band, recorded in South Africa exclusively…17 shows! Not an easy album to track down, I must agree but last February luck was on my side as I went digging into a hospice shop in the Eastern Cape. Between all the nicks and nacks and lots of broken tracks and poor old vinyl, there it suddenly was; Percy Sledge in Soul Africa, music from the soundtrack recording. It’s actually a film about the soul singer touring South Africa in 1970. Most of Percy’s worldwide hits can be heard, although live creates another vibe, another energy.
Most of all it contains a few really funky tracks, unusual James Brown -type-o-sound like “Yeah Baby (You’re The Love I Know)”, “Soul Fire” and the groovy, funky instrumental “ The First Time “. Percy and his band getting down!! And ‘Soul Fire’ is perpretated by the true Zulu spirit, with tribal chanting in a steaming 7 minutes version. Can you feel it?!!
Percy Sledge in Soul Africa. Music from the soundtrack recording
Filmed and directed by Ashley Lazarus.
A1 Swazi Lady
A5 Soul Fire
B1 Sister Soul
B2 Cover Me
The idea of making this film started at Mbabane in Swaziland, where a film crew from Aka Productions in Cape Town shot Percy Sledge’s entourage and the last concert of the tour.
Sledge held concerts for 17 weeks, breaking all records in South Africa from Mouille Point to Mbabane. He captivated audiences throughout South Africa when he threw back his head, started jiggling with microphones and sang unforgettable numbers like ” Come Softly To Me”, “When A Man Loves A Woman”, ” Knock On Wood” and ” Soul Fire”.
The concert at Swaziland was the last for Sledge, but the start of Soul Africa, which may prove an even bigger legend than the live Sledge.
When Sledge left South Africa, Ashly Lazarus and two men armed with cameras went to Zululand, the Kalahari Desert, Mashonaland, the Okavango Swamps and Botswana, and in three weeks completed the filming.
The recurring theme of Soul Africa is the contrast between the original Soul of Africa and the sophisticated Soul of the American singer. Music is in the animals and birds of Africa, explains photographer Billy Crauser. Also in the desert, the sands of the Kalahari and the scorching heat.
Ashley Lazarus spared no trouble on this film. His camera swings from the magnificence of the Swazi Independence celebrations to the ritual slaughtering of an ox, from a sangoma and the bones to a bushman rubbing sticks to make a fire, from the dazzling spotlights on Sledge’s stage to insects making love.
In the end, the Swazi tribal drummers and the dancing flames in front of the rostrum join Sledge and his crew in the blue mood soul throb of ” She’s a Gentle Swazi Lady” and “Soul Fire”.
excerpts from the liner note of “Soul Africa” -Percy Sledge -Atlantic ATC 9366 South Africa 1971