Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Music And Arts Scene

African Records Review by Staccato

Various artists: Soweto Street Music - The Definitive Collection (Audio ATX LD 04) 21 tracks including 'Ingwa- yuma Blues', 'Lady Smith Jive', 'Imali Impamde Yesono', 'Iphenduka', 'Mngani Wami', 'Hambani Magoduk', U. Jojo', 'Usithathaphi Isibindi', 'Izinduka ikhalemini' 'Bach Ababengihleka', 'Isikwde Sakho Siyamangaza.

Music from South Africa has always held a special position of curiosity and pride for Africans far removed from the oppressive regime of that geographical area. With the international recognition of South African music as popularised by Miriam Makeba's undisputed fine voice and professionalism and Hugh Masekala's trumpet, in the sixties, the way was wide open for commercialisation on the African music market.

However, for obvious reasons few records trickled through and those which did like the Dark City Sisters etc, did capture the imagination with their style and impressive vocal range.

This particular double album featuring twenty-one songs and about eleven different artists, cover the wide range of styles and moods of the gener- ally exhilarating jive music of the Black township of Soweto, the scene of many serious political protests and upheavals. One wonders whether the lyrics have political meaning of any kind.

On the opening track of the first album, 'Egoli' sets the tone for the usual familiar jazzy Black South African music. The crisp guitar work which dictate the rhythm aided by pleasure. emphatic organ riffs are wrapped tightly around steady bass drum beat in the background and moves from trade to track until 'Ingwavuma Blues' changes the mood into a basically delightful instrumental piece.

The flip side kicks off with a tune called 'Iphenduka' by Zuleiliphezula which lifts the mood up and forces the pace ahead with a slightly up-tempo beat. Additionally, the introduction of horns in the background expands and lifts the music to higher heights. U. Jojo' by The Editions, the last song cleverly introduces the new feel on side three.

At this stage, the mood has been set for dancing because the five tracks are all performed by Super Tens who, with the full backing of a horn section and heavier percussions come close to what we know as soukous 'Kant Ugintom- benjani' (track 3) employs the familiar style of question and answer by the brass section and the vocals with beautiful results.

But the best track by the Super Tens is the fourth track 'Usithathaphi Isibindi', a superb piece which throws everything into it and succeeds completely to capture the mood of the whole album.

Side four introduces another face of the wide-range of music of Soweto. With Arrentkenishame in the saddle for the whole side it would be better to appreciate the performance sitting down most of the time while you let the intricately woven and over-lapping vocal arrangement sweep over you. But dance if you want to and take special note of 'Bach Ababengihheka' and 'Isikhwele Sakho Siyamangaza' which are very fine indeed.

Generally, therefore, Soweto Street music is what the title says definitive collection which will give hours of listening and dancing pleasure

Art gallery

An exhibition of photographs and textual material and contemporary Kenya with a selection of East African kanga (admission free) is on at the Africa Centre from Monday, October 8-October 26.

Black adoptive families needed

Lambeth's Family Finders have started to search for adopters in the black community for a group of black boys aged between six and twelve. Some of the boys are of mixed parentage so couples where one partner is of Afro- Caribbean origin may apply and single people are also welcome.

Adoption is a lengthy process, but adoption workers will be helping applicants through the formalities and supporting them through all the stages. Those interested should contact Family Finders on 01-720 0220 ext 504 or 505 and ask for Maria.

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