Keep On Bumping-South African Disco & Boogie – Part 2

 

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see also Keep on Bumping in 2017 -South African Disco & Boogie Part 1

here is the second part of  the story of South African Disco & Boogie, published in the 3rd volume of “Hot Stuff” the online magazine focusing mainly on Disco & Boogie. See pages 19 through 25 for the full spread….

SOUL GEMS, BOOGIE BOMBS, DISCO DYNAMITE and ULTRA-RARE HOLYGRAILS !!!

BOOGIE WONDERLAND

botsoso-soundtrack-cover-watermarked      In the first South African disco movie “Botsotso” (1979), the recurring plot is a fairy tale similar to the story of Cinderella. The hero is a dustman who wants to go to the ball, but like Cinderella, he does not have the approriate clothes. Miraculously, he gets the clothes, wins the princess and the respect of his peers. By the end of the film his brother is no longer ashamed of him, and in the followup Botsotso 2 (1983), leading man Luki starts as a cook, but ends up owning the disco.

The suggestion is that class mobility can be effected by changing one’s clothes and learning to dance. Of course that idea is a wellknown theme that was first glorified in the classic disco movie ‘Saturday Night Fever’, starring John Travolta as Tony Manero, a troubled youth from Brooklyn who found glory on the dance floor.

The success of disco music was soon spreading over South Africa as wildfire. Many youth from the townships were trekking to the big cities to find fame and glory under the mirror ball. Simultaneously eager producers from local record companies, always keen on easy sales, flocked to the dancefloors to watch the action. Some great talent escaped the poverty and grim life of the townships and made it big. But most of these young hopefuls ended up as one-hit wonders or simply took the bus back to their homelands on a one-way ticket.

harari-home-brew-album-cover-watermarked             One of the biggest names to dominate the booming disco scene of the 1970s was Harari, even being invited to perform in the US with jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela in 1978. During this tour, the band’s leader Selby Ntuli died, leaving Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse as the new leader. This eclectic ensemble was impossible to categorise; mixing funk and disco with jazz, while also using traditional African instruments to create a completely unique sound that many tried, but failed to imitate. They were the ultimate party band, yet boasted some of the best musicians around at the time, such as Alec ‘Om’ Khaoli and Lionel Petersen. The single ‘Party’ from the album ‘Heatwave’ (Gallo 1980) even entered the American Disco Charts giving the group worldwide exposure and making a superstar of Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse. Harari will forever hold legendary status, even after their split in 1982.

Another star of that same era is Blondie Chaplin, a former member of Durban’s soul & rock band The Flames who made it quite big on his own, while scoring his biggest hits with Pappa Makhene.

pappa-and-blondie-boogie-on-up-label-watermarked

A select Blondie discography on 45 rpm

Blondie And Pappa ‎– Don’t Burn Your Bridges / Boogie On Up -Bullet ‎– B150 (1978)

Blondie And Pappa -I Can’t Get Along Without You / I’m Here, You’re There –CCP Records –CCP1 (1980)

Blondie And Pappa -Going Home To My Mama / I Like It –CCP Records –CCP7 (1980)

Blondie And Pappa -Never Gonna Let You Go / Cape To Nassau –CCP Records –CCP17 (1981)

Spankk featuring Blondie –The Air That I Breathe (Love Of My Life) / Hallelujah (Praise His Name) -Family ‎– FLY 507 (1983)

Blondie ‎– Communicate / Sugar I Like It   -Family ‎– FLY 517 (1984)

Blondie ‎– Overtime/D Good Day   -Family ‎– FLY 528 (1985)

TEEN IDOLS & THE FOUNDATION OF ZOMBA/JIVE RECORDS

Another dance success story in the mid 70s came from Cape Town with The Rockets, a band and dance group fronted by singer Ronnie Joyce who would later go solo to become South Africa’s youngest child star at 13. He was discovered by the popular soul crooner Richard Jon Smith, who introduced his protegee to producer Cliver Calder . This ex-South African correspondent for Billboard magazine would relocate to the UK in 1974 where he would form Zomba Records with his partner Ralph Simon.

little-ronnie-joyce-working-on-a-groovy-thing-cover-watermarkedRonnie Joyce’s biggest inspiration of course was young Michael Jackson, whom he resembled with his afro hairdo and funky dance moves. The band had a number of hits like ‘Surrender’, ‘Situations’, ‘Ooh La La’ and ‘Gimme A Break (Dance). Ronnie Joyce embarked on a solo career and released hits like ‘Working On A Good Thing’ and ‘What Went Wrong With Us?’. The young singer teamed up on TV shows and radio programs with another child star; Jonathan Butler. jonathan-butler-front-cover-watermarked

Best known nowadays as a respected and well known jazz artist in the Cape Jazz genre Jonathan Butler started his career as a teen idol in the same vein as Justin Bieber. The album ‘Spotlight on Jonathan Butler’ contains a selection of uptempo soul & boogie tunes and some classic soul ballads, produced by Peter Vee for Clive Calder Productions.

BREAK DANCE PARTY

Breakdancing, another street craze that started in the New York slums of Bronx and Harlem in the US took the South African youth by storm in 1984, especially in the urban areas. Hot US albums by Break Machine ‘Break Dance Party’, produced by Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo, fueled the popularity of dance styles like the head spin, moonwalking, electric boogie, spider and glide in South Africa where local acts became known nationwide. The Ghetto Slickers, a high energy breakdance trio from the house of popular singer, dancer, actor and disc jockey Cocky ‘Two Bull’ Tlhotlhalemajoe became the most popular dance act.

The Black Consciousness movement of the seventies promoted locally by activists like Steve Bantu Biko as well as African American artists like James Brown, saw individuals and organisations contribute towards building the self-esteem of the oppressed masses of South Africa. ‘Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud’ became the slogan for black South Africa.

In 1985 the Black Glamour Exhibition in Johannesburg showcased progressive young blacks and their culture. Amongst the musicians who participated in this massive show of self-pride were Ebony, Stimela, Street Kids, Pappa & Blondie a.o.

THE BIG BANG

But nobody was prepared for the tsunami that in 1986 would sweep the country when came Paul Simon released his ‘Graceland’ album. The release of this worldwide hit record created an enormous international interest in South African musicians and their music. Simon faced controversy for seemingly breaking the cultural boycott imposed by the rest of the world against South Africa because of its policy of apartheid. In addition, some black critics viewed Graceland as an exploitive appropriation of their culture.

Back in 1972, after breaking up his career with Simon & Garfunkel, he had already succesfully engaged Jamaican artists to bring the reggae effect into his music. In 1985 Simon engaged South African musicians like Ray Phiri, Isaac Mtshali, Bakithi Khumalo and Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the recording of the ‘Graceland’ album in New York. The rest is history.

letta-mbulu-ill-never-be-the-same-front-watermarked

Earlier in 1985 Stevie Wonder demonstrated outside the South African Embassy in Washington and released an album ‘In Square Circle’ that same year. On a protest track ‘It’s Wrong (Apartheid) exiled South African musicians Tshepo Mokone, Thandeka Ngono, Linda Tshabalala and Fana Kekana were featured as backing vocalists. In 1987 Michael Jackson asked Letta Mbulu for the song “Liberian Girl” that was part of his groundbreaking album ‘Bad’.

Local record companies responded to this with a non-stop flow of dance records that initially broke first on the radio, followed by success on dancefloors.

The radio broadcast industry, which had earlier seen the end of the SABC’s monopoly with the launch of Radio SR in 1977 with black deejays broadcasting in English, was more diversified then most radio stations. When Radio SR introduced South Africans to smooth talking jocks like Cocky ‘Two Bull’ Tlhotlhalemajoe, Meshack Mapetla or Danisile Lavisa, many young black boys and girls started gearing themselves to a wider and freer broadcasting industry. The radio landscape would never be the same.

Suddenly there was airtime and a healthy market for locally produced black dance music that came from within the community itself, not being imported from US or UK. Labels like On Records, formed by Ronnie Robot, Sound of Soweto and Flash dominated the local markets.

tata-afro-break-dance-label-watermarked

Here is a personal and select discography of my favourite South African SOUL GEMS, BOOGIE BOMBS, DISCO DYNAMITE and ULTRA-RARE HOLYGRAILS !!!

Not many of these releases ever made it further then the borders of South Africa, but they are not forgotten! Just like Cinderella, these records are waiting to be rediscovered after a period of obscurity and neglect.

By no means do I claim that this list is complete….still adding!

Letta Mbulu -I’ll Never Be The Same LP -Tamla Motown ‎– TMC 5242 (1973)–rare LP by a South African legend, one of the holy grails

Little Ronnie Joyce –Give A Little Love / Working On A Good Thing –Bullet Records (B14) (1974)

Jonathan Butler -‘Spotlight on Jonathan Butler’ -MFP 54748 (1975)

Lionel Petersen –I’ll Take You Where The Music’s Playing -Plum Records (PLC 5019) (1975)

Rene Richie and her Cosmic Band –Love In Space -Gallo Records ML 4181 (1978) –Italo Disco from South Africa

Qondile Nxumalo –Mad World / Uthando Olungaka -Soul Brother (PB 75) 1978

Malcolm Soul –Mr. Cool / I’m Gonna Give In CTV Disco -CTS 715 (year of release unknown)

Botsotso –original soundtrack –Buffalo Records (BFL 1005) (1979)

Thandeka Ngono –s/t –Atlantic (ATC 8004) (1979)

Alec ‘Om’ Khaoli –Magic Touch / Be My Wife Gallo Records –PD2007 (1981)

Masike “Funky” Mohapi -Hamba Sibali Wami (pts 1 & 2) –Raintree Records (RAB 311) (1982)

Caiphus Semenya ‎– Listen To The Wind Moonshine 2002 (1982)

Dudu Mazibuku & The Paper Dolls –Disco Beat / Botsoso Girl -Zasha Records (AAB3) (1983)

Piliso –Thumela –Peach River Records (BBSLP 02) (1983)

Brenda & The Big Dudes ‎– Weekend Special Family Records ‎– FLY(V) 4 (1983)

Brenda & The Big Dudes ‎– Let’s Stick Together Family Records ‎– FLY(V) 8 (1984)

Street Kids –Try Me (Game Nr. 2) Right Track PRO RTS 35 (1984)

Ebony – I Need Somebody / You Are The One–Right Track Records (RTS 619) (1985)

Tata –It’s A Mess / Afro Breakdance -Hot Stuff (HST (C) 1507 (1985)

Eric D -Slow Down / Nothing For Nothing -Sounds of Soweto (SOS 2) (1988)

Travolta –Leb 3 (Amarovers) Bubblee Records (Buble 5) (1988)

travolta-leb-3-label-watermarked

remember District 6?

Running small convenience stores in townships is a dangerous business for foreigners. Often serving their customers through locked gates, they are accused of spreading disease, stealing jobs and sponging off basic government services like electricity, running water and healthcare.

But as violence against them continues, the South African government insists that criminality is behind it, not xenophobia

Remember District 6?

In 1986, District Six – The Musical- by David Kramer and Taliep Petersen told the story of District Six in a popular musical which also toured internationally.

By the turn of the century District Six, originally known as the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town, was already a lively community made up of former slaves, artisans, merchants and other immigrants, as well as many Malay people brought to South Africa by the Dutch East India Company during its administration of the Cape Colony.

After World War II, during the earlier part of the apartheid era, District Six was relatively cosmopolitan. Situated within sight of the docks, it was made up largely of coloured residents which included a substantial number of coloured Muslims, called Cape Malays. There were also a number of black Xhosa residents and a smaller numbers of Afrikaans, whites, and Indians. district 6 the musical pics

Government officials gave four primary reasons for the removals. In accordance with apartheid philosophy, it stated that interracial interaction bred conflict, necessitating the separation of the races. They deemed District Six a slum, fit only for clearance, not rehabilitation. They also portrayed the area as crime-ridden and dangerous; they claimed that the district was a vice den, full of immoral activities like gambling, drinking, and prostitution. Though these were the official reasons, most residents believed that the government sought the land because of its proximity to the city centre, Table Mountain, and the harbour.

On 11 February 1966, the government declared District Six a whites-only area under the Group Areas Act, with removals starting in 1968. By 1982, more than 60,000 people had been relocated to the sandy, bleak Cape Flats township complex some 25 kilometres away. The old houses were bulldozed. The only buildings left standing were places of worship. International and local pressure made redevelopment difficult for the government, however. The Cape Technikon (now Cape Peninsula University of Technology) was built on a portion of District Six which the government renamed Zonnebloem. Apart from this and some police housing units, the area was left undeveloped.

Since the fall of apartheid in 1994, the South African government has recognised the older claims of former residents to the area, and pledged to support rebuilding.

District Six also contributed mightily to the distinguished history of South African jazz.

Basil Coetzee, known for his song “District Six”, was born there and lived there until its destruction. Before leaving South Africa in the 1960s, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim lived nearby and was a frequent visitor to the area, as were many other cape jazz musicians. Ibrahim described the area to The Guardian as a “fantastic city within a city..In the late 50s and 60s, when the regime clamped down, it was still a place where people could mix freely. It attracted musicians, writers, politicians at the forefront of the struggle as the school Western province Prep were a huge help in the struggle, but the head boy at the time and an exciptionaly great help was . We played and everybody would be there.”

 district 6 the musical cover back

And the story continues with ‘District 9’, probably the most stunning sci-fi movie I have ever seen.

Released in 2009, directed by Neill Blomkamp, written by Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, and produced by Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham.

The film won the 2010 Saturn Award for Best International Film presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, and was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2009:

The story, adapted from ‘Alive in Joburg’, a 2005 short film directed by Blomkamp and produced by Sharlto Copley and Simon Hansen, depicts humanity, xenophobia, and social segregation. The title and premise of District 9 were inspired by events in District Six, Cape Town during the apartheid era. The film was shot on location in Chiawelo, Soweto, presenting fictional interviews, news footage, and video from surveillance cameras in a found footage format.

More then a great science fiction action thriller it’s a social commentary. Replace the word “alien” with any legal or illegal inhabitant of a township and the message the movie was conveying becomes clear. Not for the squeamish.

source; Wikipedia, YouTube, Aljazeera

King Kong -programme The New London Version 1961

king kong london programme cover

king kong london programme titel pagina 20

The original South African stage production “King Kong, All African Jazz Opera“ went overseas to be premiered in London, UK  in 1961 after having taking South Africa by storm.  The cast and production numbers were altered for the London version of “King Kong, All African Jazz Opera”.  The London show was presented by Union Artists, also known as the Union of Southern African Artists. Founded in 1952 this organisation came into being with the dual function of promoting the talent that had already been shown to exist in the musical and dramatic  field and to act as an Artists’ Equity. The Union promoted Township Jazz concerts which were the first large scale African entertainment shows to be presented in Johannesburg, and arranged for non-European audiences to see and hear a wide range of entertainment like Dame Flora Robson and Rosalinde Fuller, among others.  It also provided rehearsal facilities, advice on a variety of topics, and opportunity of employment of its members.

Six years after the Union was formed ‘King Kong’ was presented. The musical was a spectacular success, over 100.000 people saw this South African production in the first months after its premiere. After ‘King Kong’ Union Artists went into the production of another all-black cast musical ‘Mhkumbane’,  written by Alan Paton with music by Todd Matshikiza.

 see also King Kong -Original London Stage Cast 1961

 Copy of king kong London programme merged

click on images to enlarge

king kong london programme titel pagina 7 king kong london programme titel pagina 8 king kong london programme titel pagina 9 king kong london programme titel pagina 10 king kong london programme titel pagina 11

 

king kong london programme titel pagina 1king kong london programme titel pagina 2king kong london programme titel pagina 3

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Soul Safari ebay auction

Greetings fellow music lovers, Soul Safari’s eBay auction starts today with new additions weekly.

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Throughout the entire month of May Soul Safari will be listing field recordings, folk, private pressings, township jive & kwela jazz, African jazz, soul & boogie, mbanqaga,and much much more with absolutely no reserves.

Records that have been presented on these pages over the last five years are now on auction. So here  is your change to grab some rare African vinyl  as I am cleaning out my shelves to make room for new music.

 

Soul Safari's ebay auction
Soul Safari’s ebay auction

 

Soul Safari's eBay auction
Soul Safari’s eBay auction

Some highlights; a collection of ultra rare and seldom heard field recordings from ILAM, recorded by Hugh Tracey. These records were purchased many years ago directly from ILAM in South Africa from what was left of their unsold stock. All records come in their original cover with the labels attached to the back cover and are unplayed, in brand new mint condition.

More  Soul Safari favs like great 45’s by jive kings The Soweto Boys, mbanqaga queens The Manzini Girls  are now on auction.

Soul Safari's eBay auction
Soul Safari’s eBay auction

See Soul Safari’s eBay auction starting today.

Thanks  for your support and best of luck, happy bidding!

Barbara Thomas 1952 African jazz variety

 On Jan 23, 2014 reader Earle Thomas left this comment on my post about African Jazz & Variety -Alfred Herbert 1952

 “ She is my granny Barbara Thomas ! 1952 African jazz variety”

…and posted this rare pic from his family photo archive. Well appreciated and thanks for your comment.

Barbara Thomas on stage
Barbara Thomas on stage in 1952

latest record finds -October 2013 USA

my last safari through the concrete jungle of cities like New York City and Philadelphia generated a lot of great finds, not just African music but a few  interesting otherwordly records as well. What about The Afro-Latin Soultet ‘Wild!’, a truely rare jazz-soul gem rarely seen in the wild.

Best catch of this safari must be the American release of Spokes Mashiyane’s  LP ‘King Kwela’, recorded during his  first US live tour,  The Boyoyo Boys ‘Back In Town’, Josef Marais, and Dorothy Masuka ‘Pata Pata’ as runner up… maybe not the holy grails I was looking for in the first place but still a decent selection of music from the African diaspora that I like to share with you. More info and mp3 files in coming posts….and my experience of diggin’ in Philadelphia will be revealed shortly.

the afro-latin soultet -wild! gecomp

abdullah ibrahim- water from an ancient well gecomp

see also SA Jazz -Abdullah Ibrahim speaks! Staffrider interview with poet Hein Willemse NYC Dec 1986

boyoyo boys -back in town gecomp

see also David Thekwane & The Boyoyo Boys -Township Jive 1977

dorothy masuka -pata pata gecomp

see also South African Soul Divas pt 2 Dorothy Masuka, Mahotella Queens, Irene & The Sweet Melodians

hi-life intl -gecomp josef marais -songs of the african veld gecomp

see also the Bleached Zulu

majuba ost -gecomp

rare South African OST ‘Majuba’. I will review this LP shortly

next stop soweto vol 3 gecomp

ah…all the essential and most collectable Cape Jazz holy grails on a double album, released by Strut Records in 2010.

phezulu eqhudeni -gecomp rochereau tabu ley & l'african fiesta vol 2 gecomp spokes mashiyane -king kwela gecomp tabu ley babeti soukous gecomp

‘The Magic Garden’ aka The Pennywhistle Blues (1951) –Willard Cele

a valuable link to some musical scenes from the movie ‘The Magic Garden’ has been added by our friends at The Kwela Project. Essential viewing. See also the comments on this post. Appreciated!

Willard Cele On His Flageolet With Rhythm Accompaniment

The Pennywhistle Blues  –The Pennywhistle Boogie (1951)

both sides recorded unaltered from the actual 78 rpm

Willard Cele -Penny Whistle Blues Gallotone A side gecomp Willard Cele -Penny Whistle Blues Gallotone B side gecomp

In 1951 Willard Cele and his tin flute appeared in the landmark South African film, ‘The Magic Garden’ (a.k.a. ‘The Pennywhistle Blues’).

It greatly helped to popularize the instrument and inspired many to play, including Spokes Mashiyane, who would become a superstar of Kwela in the mid-1950’s and into the sixties.

dolly rathebe mic
Dolly Rathebe performing in the 50’s

This movie is one of the first to feature Kwela for a big audience and Dolly Rathebe, one of my favourite singers is starring in it as well.

The story tells a gentle, wistful tale of life in a black township, with the hero being a small-time thief who plays a penny whistle.

The cast are non-professionals, but the pacing and visuals are certainly of high quality. High point: When the local police lift a garbage can lid and see the thief inside, one looks at the other and says, “Man, the housing shortage is worse than I thought.” Dumb remark, but endearing. Especially since they carefully put the lid back on, and go on their way.

Much of its charm is to do with the age of the film and the success of the Cinematographer in actually teaching the actors to act as this was a first film for all the cast.

This film is used in USA universities as the first of its ilk from the early 1950s with an all-black cast. Fun. Nice countryside and scenery, giving the viewer a taste of South Africa before its troubles.

About Willard Cele

Willard Cele, a crippled South African flageolet player who is regarded as the pioneer of South African Kwela music, often credited as having been the first to bring the inherently upbeat sound of the Pennywhistle to the medium.

On both the South African and English record label he’s credited as playing the Flageolet, which is sort of the refined older cousin to the Tin Whistle or Pennywhistle.

willard cele -penny whistle blues London Records UK

‘The Magic Garden’ (1951)

Also Known As: La soupe à la citrouille

63 min – Comedy | Drama | Music – 5 March 1951 (South Africa)

Director: Donald Swanson

Writers: James H. Brown (story), C.M. Pennington-Richards,

Stars: Tommy Ramokgopa, Harriet Qubeka, Joseph Motuba |

Complete credited cast:

The Thief-Tommy Ramokgopa

Mrs. Shakabona -Harriet Qubeka 

Nicholas, store clerk -Joseph Motuba 

Lucas Ranku -David Mnkwanazi  

John, Lili’s beau-Victor Cwai

Lili Shabulala -Dolly Rathebe

Mr. Shabulala -Grinsell Nogauza

Isaac Wela -Lucas Khosa

Mrs. Wela-Linda Madikisa

Priest -Jonathan Mzamo

Mr. Letuli, the troubled parishioner -George Mabuza

A Constable -Cornelius Moghare

A Constable -Samuel Alcock …

Pennywhistle Player -Willard Cele

Mrs. Shakabona’s Neighbor -Stanley Khali

*

Country: South Africa

Language: English

Release Date: 5 March 1951 -South Africa

Filming Locations: Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Production Co: Swan Film Productions Ltd.

Technical Specs

Runtime: 63 min

Sound Mix: Mono

Color: Black and White

Made In South Africa (By Gallo Africa LTD)

Willard Cele -Penny Whistle Blues Gallotone gecomp

see also 

something new from Africa -Kwela with Lemmy

Penny Whistle Kwela -Alexandra Shamber Boys, Benoni Flute Quintet

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This post contains text from I’m Learning To Share!

Thanks to johnsonlj2003 from East Sussex