one post a day for the remainder of 2017 featuring a selection of some of my best finds of African music last year…not necessary brand new releases. Mostly vintage original pressings found during my travels all over the world.
On my recent safari my attention was drawn immediately to this album, the artwork and the name Ray Phiri performed magic. Chikapa “Ray” Phiri of course is well known for his work on Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album and popular South Africa bands like The Cannibals and Stimela, a hugely successful mbaquanga/fusion outfit which released several platinum-selling albums. But I have never seen this album before….so that’s why it is Discovery of the Week. File under African Jazz, Boogie, Funk, Soul….
Thoughts Visions and Dreams
A Man-A Dog-And A Cow
Featuring Ray Phiri
Thoughts Visions And Dreams are:
Ray Phiri: guitar; Ntokozo Zingu: guitar; immy Mngwandi: bass guitar; Donald Laka: keyboards; Isaac Mtshali: drums;Emelio Zulfar Hassan: percussion; Mcoy Mrubata:tenor sax; Bakhiti Khumalo
This album has been on my turntable for the last past days and its appeal is growing with each spin. I find it hard to resist the magic coming out of these grooves; jazz, funk, afro-beat; definitely a fusion of styles that blends into a gentle South African swing.
Each of the featured tracks are winners, especially the bassline and close harmony singing on ‘Sishovingolovane’ and the comical funky mood of ‘Who Is Fooling You’ as well as the title track ‘Look, Listen And Decide’. Each track on this rare album deserves your attention so featured here today. Enjoy!
Stimela, the Zulu word for “locomotive”, is a South African Afro-fusion band, founded by Ray Phiri in 1982 after his previous band The Cannibals, the soul music giants of the 70’s, disbanded.
Stimela have since become little short of an institution in South Africa. Born and raised in Mpumalanga Phiri used to dance to his troubadour father’s puppet shows and had his first break in 1962 when he managed to dance for the legendary Dark City Sisters when they performed in Mpumalanga. From this performance he made enough money giving him a chance to travel to Johannesburg and start his own band.
Phiri, along with Jabu Sibume on bass, Isaac Mtshali on drums, and Lloyd Lelosa on keyboards were The Cannibals and during this time the group supplied instrumental accompaniment on recordings of other artists including Irene Mawela and the Mahotella Queens. The four joined forces with vocalist Jacob “Mparanyana” Radabe in 1975, continuing to work together for four more years until Mparanyana’s untimely death at the peak of his career. In 1982, renamed as Stimela, the band was further expanded with the addition of Thabelo Kgomo and Charlie Ndlovu on keyboards.
In 1985 the American singer and musician Paul Simon asked Phiri, along with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, to join his Graceland project, a hugely successful project that helped a number of South African artists to make names for themselves abroad. Phiri was the arranger of the Graceland album and he collaborated with Paul Simon again on Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints album, which saw Phiri tour for six months and perform on stages such as Central Park and Madison Square Garden, in Europe (1987) and the Soviet Union (1989), as well as appearing on top television shows in the US.
Although largely inactive nowadays, the mbaqanga/jazz/fusion band occasionally still appears on stage.
As Phiri explains, “We all have different things that we do in life. Stimela is an institution and therefore we will come together if there’s something we want to achieve.”