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Various - Next Stop Soweto Vol. 4: Zulu Rock, Afro Disco and Mbaqanga 1975-1985

  by Keith How

published: 12 / 4 / 2015



Various - Next Stop Soweto Vol. 4: Zulu Rock, Afro Disco and Mbaqanga 1975-1985
Label: Strut Records
Format: CD

intro

Infectious fourth compilation in excellent series which records the progress of the South African music scene, and, which taking in punk, funk and disco influences, examines the years between 1975 and 1985


Bang! And away we go! It’s all about the music, isn’t it? The moment that those infectious bass lines kick in the sun instantly starts to shine. This is despite the long shadow of social and political upheaval, which continues to provide a sense of unease that translates into urgent rhythms and beats. Strut Records release the fourth volume of this impressive series that records the progress of the South African music scene, as black musicians take on board new influences from punk, funk and disco and add it to that wonderful Hi-Life vibe rising up out of a massive evolving urban population. So, what can you expect when you press play? First of all, try and stop your foot tapping! The guitars are familiar, but European and American styles are clearly influencing the musicians and producers. The swing is still there, but now there are Talking Heads and Bowie-esque touches to give a contemporary edge to the traditional sound. Global crossover is on the horizon. Despite massive restrictions and curfews, the township never sounded so cool. Any doubts about quality are blown into oblivion as Kabasa swing into style with ‘Unga Pfula A Chi Pfalo’. Guitars ring out before the vocals arrive, but the first hint of how music was evolving appears with some heavy chord changes and an amazing guitar break that instantly reminds me of Rare Bird’s ‘Epic Forest’ album. The groove sets in and continues. The Actions’ ‘Hide and Seek’ is a six minute exercise in rap over a hypnotic groove that just won’t let you go. My ears prick up when a saxophone freestyles and duets with the guitar on the instrumental ‘The Things We Do In Soweto’. Almon Memela appears to be jamming, and, Lord, it is good. The T.Y.Boys’ ‘Lekopokopo Single Moqashoa’ reveals elements of punk, the aggressive vocals really pushing through driven by keyboard and guitar. The breadth of change is clearly evident on ‘Manano’ by Xoloso. Opening with a series of chord changes sounding like ‘A Time and a Word’-era Yes, it develops a clear progressive take on Afro-Beat complete with changing time signatures. It is hard to believe but true! The groove is there, but now incorporated into different dynamics . ‘Next Stop Soweto’ is a hugely consistent album, and is well worth investigation and finishes really strongly with Isaac & the Sakie Special Band, a massive slab of soul funk driven by some epic synth work. “Get Down,” the vocalist implores and why wouldn’t you? With the best saved to last comes the Drive’s ‘Ain’t Sittin’ Down Doin’ Nothing’. A cross between ‘Shaft’ and a mellow Su Ra, the groove is a soul jazz instrumental with a real funky vibe and features Wah Wah guitars, sax, flute and pulsing bass. The whole shooting match, it is a real blast. With a running time of seventy minutes, this album is a joy to listen to. Take a bow, compiler Duncan Brooker . Oh yes, you were going to ask, “What is Mbaqanga?” Mbaqanga is cornmeal porridge in Zulu apparently. The musical style, however, appeared in the 1960s as a kind of South African jazz. I like porridge, and I like this collection. Enjoy! It is hard not to.



Track Listing:-


Band Links:-
https://generationblitz.bandcamp.com/
https://stateofbassuk.com/


Label Links:-
https://instagram.com/strutrecords/
https://twitter.com/strutrecords
https://www.youtube.com/user/strutrecords
https://www.facebook.com/StrutRecords
http://www.strut-records.com/



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