the week starts with a lot of snow, wind and icy temperatures….Winter! A perfect time of the year to bring out some really warm and soothing South African sounds.
One of the albums I found on my recent South African trip last October catched my attention for the strange cover -the keyhole!-and some awesome obscure titles. This rare album came from a black radio-station and the fact that the last track on side B had been censored simply blew my mind. Scratching out the track with a nail (!) and obscuring the typography on the label and artwork of the cover is quite bizarre although it was not an unusual practice in South Africa’s dark days of Apartheid. The reason for censoring remains unclear since Kid Manotcha’s ”Up The Chiefs” is actually an instrumental track but therefore all the more intruiging. More on banned beats in a future post.
Ever heard of groups like The Fast Move, Soul Rhythmers or Black Lightening? Or Kid Moncho and Izintombi Zodumo?? Well, I hadn’t either until I got this album, produced by Almon Memela, who also wrote a few of the compositions presented here in today’s post, a pick up on the thread Township Soul & Boogie.
Most of the artists on this LP are probably studio-musicians who worked with Almon Memela on several recordings in the bump and soul genre, styles that were popular in South Africa in 1975.
The best known track is the lovely ‘Three Steps To Heaven’, a cover of an original song by Eddie Cochran, the signature sound of the late 1950s. This brilliant gem is one of the best love songs of the 20th century and presented here in a good-humoured reggea-vibe.
Percy Sledge opened on Friday, May 29th 1970 at the Luxurama Theatre, Cape Town to stay for a long series of concerts and tours. Before that date the American singer had never set foot on South African soil.
In the 1950s Margaret Singana moved to Johannesburg, and soon started performing with The Symbols. In 1972 she made “Good Feelings” with the band. She became the first black artist to feature on the Radio 5 hit parade. Singana’s song “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You” became a hit. In 1973, Singana was cast as the lead singer in the musical, Ipi Tombi, and soon made herself famous with the song “Mama Tembu’s Wedding”. She suffered from bad health for many years but, in 1986, she returned to sing “We Are Growing”, the theme song from the television series, Shaka Zulu.
Singana received many awards, including the 1976/1977 critics award from the British magazine, Music Week. She was known as “Lady Africa” in Southern Africa and passed away in 2000. The single featured here today was released in 1975 and produced by Patrick Van Blerk, Allan Goldberg and Trevor Rabin.
this album came out in 1990 in South Africa when the bubblegum-style was popular. Bubblegum is a form of pure South African pop music that arose in the middle of the 1980’s, distinctively based on vocals with overlapping call-and-response vocals. Electronic keyboards and synthesizers were commonplace. Dan Tshanda of the band Splash was the first major bubblegum star, followed by Chicco Twala.
Dan Tshanda and Splash are synonymous with the name Patricia Majalisa. It’s that very combination that brought her to the limelight in 1988. Patricia was the electrifying backing voice who started the group Splash in Chiawelo, Soweto with Dan Tshanda and the other members of the group.
In the very beginning Patricia Majalisa sang in a group called ‘The Flying Sounds’ when ace producer,the late Hamilton Nzimande from Gallo Records listened to their demo tape and liked the demo. That culminated in their debut album ‘Mr Tony’ which although not a hit, made them realise their potential and the late Mr Nzimande did not give up on them. This made everyone see that the group had the potential to make it and that’s when Ray Phiri of Stimela give them the name ‘SPLASH’.
Her fifth album ‘DZHENGEZHE’ saw her graduate to double platinum status in South Africa.
Today I want to share some interesting news out of Soul Safari’s mailbox; your comments, requests and music….keep sending!
here’s a hot tip from my collector friend MP Flapp from Very Good Plus
Did you spot the reissue of William Onyeabor- “Anything You Sow”? (ONYEABOR) I believe it is a bootleg. I got my copy today from Honest Jons – what a fantastic LP -stuck an odd branch in African music – the lyrics as well as the music are really a treat.
William Onyeabor was Nigerian. The other LP I’d love is called
“Atomic Bomb”. I first discovered him via the “World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love’s a Real Thing” compilation. It has the track “Better Change Your Mind” on it which is just out of this world – both lyrically and musically.
It was the friend Mark Crumbie (Baxter on VG+) who pointed me towards a download of the “Anything you Sow” LP – out of the blue the LP gets a re-issue last week. I hadn’t really looked through his discography as the first things I saw listed were those super rare LPs from Nigeria that had never been re-issued in any format. The “Anything you Sow” LP has elements of TGs “Hot on the heels of love” in the mix with low fi synch feel, but a proper funk under current.
‘Soul Fiesta’, originally recorded by Manu Dibango and re-released in 2002 on the French label Versatile Records as a remix by hot Parisian producers team Chateau Flight. Strangely enough I cannot locate the original song in my album collection of Manu Dibango. Or even 45’s. Can anyone shine a light in what year ‘Soul Fiesta’ originally came out?? On which label? Was it French Fiesta? Your input is appreciated…
….thanks to reader Afrikola for the following update; ‘…This came out on the album ‘Afrodelic’ as Fiesta 360.058 in 1973 and got re-released on Hi&Fly Records, H&F 0019 in 2006′.
“For Your Precious Love” is a song written by Arthur Brooks, Richard Brooks and Jerry Butler, and performed by Butlers’ group The Impressions in 1958. It was released as a single on Vee-Jay Records and peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores and Top 100 charts. The song was ranked as the 327th greatest song of all-time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2004.
The 1968 version in South Africa by Durban group, The Flames, reached the top spot on the local charts and has been considered a classic in the country ever since. Here are the lyrics of the song, covered by Otis Redding. The adaption of the song as performed by The Flames can be heard in this post.
For Your Precious Love
For your precious love means more to me
Than any love could ever be
For when I wanted you I was so lonely and so blue
For that’s what love will do
Darling, I’m so surprised,
Oh, when I first realized
That you were fooling me
Darling, they say that our love won’t grow
I just want to tell them that they don’t know
For as long as you, long as you are loving me
Our love will grow wider, deeper than any sea
And all the things in the world, in this whole wide world
Is just that you would say that you’d be my girl
(Wanting you) Wanting you,
(I’m lonely and blue) Whoa, lonely
That’s what love will do
For your precious love means more to me
Than any love could ever be
For when I, I wanted you I was so lonely and so blue
That’s what love will do
ladies & gentlemen, here are The Flames!!
like most good posts on these pages this story starts with finding a 45 in a dusty garage somewhere in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. That was the beginning. Later on, I unearthed a battered album called ‘Soulfire!!’ that was still playable. But what a sound! And what a history!!
Soul ballads, danceable tunes with the odd sitar thrown in the mix, pyschedelic pop with strong vocals by singers Steve Fataar, Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin; elements that made me search for the perfect copy of their album ‘Soulfire!!’. Finally, in a warehouse somewhere in Durban (thanks Chris) I found a SEALED MINT copy of this rare gem. Now, that’s what you’ve got friends for!!!
But my search went on…
All members of The Flames were born and raised in Durban, a huge melting pot, the third biggest city of South Africa in the Natal province. The city, along the Indian Ocean, has the biggest Indian population outside Bombay and together with the Zulu native peoples and white merchants they build beautiful Durban; a harbor, a hub of frantic action and endless urban development. In the 50’s Durban’s coastline was famous for it’s scenic beauty and soon became a coastal resort, attracting many holiday makers and retired permanent residents.
‘Soulfire!!’ is without a doubt a masterpiece of South African soul music. From 1964 until 1967 the line-up consisted of Steve Fataar on guitar, Brother Fataar on bass, Ricky Fataar on drums and vocalist Edries Fredericks on guitar. This was the lineup that produced the first two albums, and more singles. Edries left the Flames after having sung lead on both these albums. He was briefly replaced by Baby Duval in 1967. The same year the group was joined by Blondie Chaplin. He can be heard as lead singer on the single ‘For Your Precious Love’ released in 1968. Together with Ricky Fataar he became a full member of the American super group The Beach Boys from 1971 to 1973, during which time the albums ‘So Tough’, ‘Holland’ and ‘In Concert’ were made and released. Ricky Fataar also did session drumming for other records by individual Beach Boys members.
When The Flames arrived in the United States in 1970 at the invitation of Al Jardine and Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, they changed their name to The Flame, since there was competition from reggae group The Flames and James Brown’s own The Famous Flames. They started writing new material; powerful rockers, ballads, mood pieces and symphonic masterpieces that got a release on Brother, a local Nashville, Tennessee record label. The album was produced by Carl Wilson and it must be their rarest release ever, since it was distributed only locally in the beginning. Later on it was released in Uruguay, the Netherlands, the UK and Canada.
‘Burning Soul’ and ‘Soulfire!!’ however, remain The Flames best known commercial albums. These have been re-issued many times over the years, mainly in South Africa, although ‘Burning Soul’ was released in Australia as well as in the UK. Their music still stands the test of time.
Inspired by the 60’s boom in American Soul, many South African performers entered the field with an organ, a bass-and-drum rhythm section and an electric guitar. In the mid 70’s the disco beat took over but the main ingredients remained almost the same.
The Soul Brothers formed in 1974 and recorded over 30 albums since their formation. Initially formed in KwaZulu Natal, the group have remained the slickest and most successful proponents of the mbaqanga sound which dominated South African urban music for over three decades.
that’s right folks, we started this blog exactly 1 year ago so today it’s the birthday of Soul Safari! Thanks to all visitors of these pages; for your comments, your suggestions and the links. Keep sending them, it’s very much appreciated.
To celebrate this occasion we present a groovy, funky mix of soul and boogie tunes for your ears only… all records come from our own archives, highlighting the golden African disco days, mid to late 70’s. Some rare 45’s by Patti Boulaye, (born Patricia Ngosi Ebigwei, 1954), a British singer, actress and politician, and who was one of the leading black British entertainers in the seventies and eighties. In her native Nigeria, she is best remembered for starring in the Lux commercials which ran in the eighties.
Letta Mbulu is a more established South African artist with an impressive career that spans a few continents, her contribution to the mix is ‘Kilimanjaro’, a gorgeous slab of African boogie-disco. That voice!
And the list goes on with some real funky versions of ‘Take me to the river’ by Mara Lauw, ‘Get it’ by The Symbols, a discofied version of ‘Put it where you want it’, originally a hit for The Crusaders. And more African cover versions of American boogie & disco hits…
Here’s the full list
01. Mara Louw -Take Me To The River
02. Patti Boulaye -Funky Love
03. The Sakie Special Band -Groovy Cats
04. The Movers -Guava Jelly
05. Sylvia King -Shoorah! Shoorah!
06. Jackie -Disco Jack
07. Fani & The Guys -You Promised Me
08. Blondie -Overtime
09. The Pedlars – At The Club
10. The Pedlars -Right On
11. The K.C.’s -Kansas City Instrumental
12. The Square Set -Love Theme
13. Pappa & Blondie Makhene -Boogie On Up
14. The Movers -Freaky Disco
15. Green Apple -Funky Fever
16. The Symbols -Get It
17. John Moriri & Manzini Girls -We Gogo
18. Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje -Omzala Bakho
19. Manzini Girls -Afro Wig
20. Soul Brothers -Bayeza
21. Pappa & Blondie Makhene -Don’t Burn Your Bridges
The Luxurama Theatre, Cape Town, darkened, there was a momentary hush, then the audience exploded in a deafening roar as Percy Sledge walked on stage. Everyone of the 1300 seats was filled, people were sitting in the aisles and the happy audience screamed and cried, shouted and stamped, clapped and cheered for the King of Soul was here in South Africa at last!
‘Don’t leave Percy’ they cried. ‘Stay here in South Africa with us!’
The live-recording of this show, at The Luxurama, Cape Town, has captured many exciting moments with songs like ‘My Special Prayer’ and Percy’s first time singing of a Beegees composition ‘I got get a message to you’. The crowd loved the message
In South Africa (At the Luxurama) – ATC 9257
My special prayer / cover me / heart of a child / takes time to know her / warm and tender love / i gotta get a message to you / silent night / come softly to me / what am I living for / when a man loves a woman.
And stay he did. For it was on Friday, May 29th 1970 that he opened at the Luxurama Theatre and stayed there for three weeks. One June 22nd he opened at The Three Arts Theatre, Cape Town and played for four weeks to open on July 20th at The Empire Theatre in Johannesburg on July 31st and August 1st, 1970.
Rumors have it that this album is not really live but a collection of Sledge’s songs with dubbed in crowd participation and ‘live’ announcements by Percy himself. But the tracks on this album are raw and 100% real without a doubt Percy Sledge…deep, intense Southern Soul
Showtime for the King Of Soul himself …Percy Sledge, backed by members of Harari
after these memorable live events Percy was King of Soul in South Africa and became a major cult figure as well. His appeal was so widespread that Pepsi Cola Co asked him as the star to launch a new soda-pop drink TEEM…
this resulted in the release of a promotional record with Percy singing about the joy of drinking TEEM. This disc contains 2 radio-commercials and the full version of the tune, produced for South Africa exclusively