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June 29, 2008

Soweto Never Sleeps: Classic Female Zulu Jive


I just posted about this record a few days ago, I recently found it on a trip to Dodd's Record Shop. It's great, I'm floored. Soweto Never Sleeps features the music of 4 different groups that created a fusion of African sounds/ language/ concerns and American and British R&B/ Soul/ Rock. All the music here comes from predominantly female South African groups of the 60's and 70's that as the liner notes say "lightened the dark years of the mid-seventies in Soweto and the other Black Townships of South Africa."

While most of the album sounds like it could be straight from Paul Simon's Graceland album (he apparently liked this music A LOT) there are a few songs that are a little funkier, with a little more soul and a bigger beat. I chose to include audio from tracks by The Mahotella Queens [1] and The Mgababa Queens which are musical cousins in way as members of the former group went on to form the later.

The Mahotella Queens- Umculo Kawupheli (1974)

A Mahotella Queens Clip from the BBC Documentary "African Music: The Rock and Roll Years"

The Mahotella Queens Mgoashiyo sound (indestructible beat) and the deep voiced "groaner" Simon "Mahlathini" Nkabinde made them one of the most popular groups in South Africa and many other African nations. The mix of Mahlathini and the sweet female vocals is magic. On one track included on Soweto Never Sleeps, Wozani Mahipi (The Hippies Come to Soweto), they take turns killing it over a straight up African funk track. The Mgababa Queens, however have more of a 60's English beat sound with organ and a little bit of jangle thrown in. Either way, all three tracks are infectious and a welcome addition to my very sparse understanding of African music.

Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens- Wozani Mahipi (Hippies Come To Soweto)

The Mgababa Queens- Akulaiwa Soweto (Soweto Never Sleeps)

The Mgababa Queens- Sidl'imali Zethu (Our Own Money)

Posted by matt at June 29, 2008 8:00 PM


I wonder how it ended up in Dodd's.
Did it come from the crates of new arrivals or the stacks?


Posted by: Anthony at July 1, 2008 2:50 PM

It seems like it was in the stacks, got pulled and then was mixed in with the new arrivals. I was super surprised to see a record like that there. But, really, who knows what is in that place. I found a Phillip Glass there recently but unfortunately I already have it.

Posted by: matt at July 1, 2008 6:38 PM

wow. GOOD FIND !

Posted by: george at July 2, 2008 11:25 AM

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