Hugh Masekela – Masekela (1968)
Jan 30th, 2012 by robert

Today I have a very special post for you, a rare recording from Hugh Masekela. Masekela has never shied from speaking out for justice, and this recording, made in the U$ during a rebellious 1968, bristles with outrage from its first track, “Mace and Grenades.”

The record sleeve is trashed, but the sound quality of this record is mostly excellent. Digitizing it was a small challenge because many of the cuts virtually crossfade into the next. In fact I left the tracks “Gold” and “Subukwe” conjoined because they work splendidly together. Most of the songs were written by Masekela, with one Dollar Brand song (“Gafsa”) and another by saxophone legend Kippie Moeketsi. “Head Peepin'” certainly sounds dated due to its groovy language, but most of the album is timeless.

One intriguing quirk about the record is that the last track, a snippet of “Grazin’ in the Grass,” is separated by a gap. The record apparently finishes and rotates continuously without getting to the “Extra Added Attraction” unless you physically lift the tonearm and put it at the beginning of the 1-minute teaser. Was that intentional?

There is absolutely no information about the musicians participating in this gorgeous session, on the record sleeve, but thanks to Doug Payne’s essential discography research, we can attribute this fine music to these musicians:

  • Hugh Masekela (tp, vcl)
  • Wayne Henderson (tb)
  • Al Abreu, Wilton Felder (sax)
  • Bill Henderson (p)
  • Arthur Adams (g)
  • Henry Franklin (b)
  • Chuck Carter (d)

Do not hesitate to listen to this one!

Enjoy!

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Soul Brothers – Jive Explosion (1988)
Jan 28th, 2012 by robert

The Soul Brothers are one of the most successful bands in South African history, having sold millions of records and CDs in their country alone. Rising from humble, working class roots in the early 1970s, David MasondoZenzele “Zakes” Mchunu and Tuza Mthethwa created a particularly infectious style of mbaqanga by fusing soul-influenced vocals with township jive. While Mosondo’s iconic, soprano vocals instantly identify the band, the phat bass of Mchunu and the intertwined, inventive guitar of Mthethwa helped define its unique character. The early addition of Moses Ngwenya brought township keyboards into the mix. With additional vocalists for harmony, a full, dynamic band and vibrant choreography, the Soul Brothers built an mbaqanga dynasty that has weathered challenges from other pop music styles through the decades.

The Soul Brothers suffered several tragedies early in its history, including the death in car accidents of four members, including founders Zakes Mchunu and Tuza Mthethwa. Today’s share is a 1988 compilation of Soul Brothers recordings from 1983-1986, selected by Earthworks’ Trevor Herman. It was one of the major hits of the “world music” phenomenon of the day. Since Mchunu died in ’84, several of the songs include his bass. The entire collection is outstanding, and I cannot understand why it has not been reissued. Enjoy!

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