The musical universe is full of surprises. Each day we are discovering new records, which, although they are from the past, appear to us as "musical novelties". Good music is timel
South African Disco/ Synth (80s, South Africa)
Sunshine Sister - Saturday Dancing Fever
Another obscure South African disco on IndiaStreet. This 1985 maxi single includes the killer track “Dancing Fever” a downtempo disco, boogie rich in synth and warm female vocals which brings us straight to the dance floor, on a Saturday Night maybe in some clubs around Johannesburg. This time there are really few information about the record and this keep its charm even higher. We know was recorded in 1985 but who is Sunshine Sister? Apparently a pseudonym used by South African promoter and producer Attie Van Wyk, particularly prolific back in the 80s with hundreds of his production felt into the obscurity nowadays...
Sakhile - Sakhile
Continues our retrospective on South Africa disco, funk, from the 80s. Do you remember the mysterious man dressed like an undertaker named “The Boogie Man”? This is the band from which he came from. Sakhile recorded their homonym album in 1982, South Africa, a melting pot of jazz, funk, soul and disco. The group were a far cry from the big selling commercial acts of the days, a cerebral jazz that worth to be discovered; amazing bass riff from Sipho Gumede and solo saxophone from Khaya Mahlangu look timeless nowadays, mixed on IndiaStreetRadio.com
Skyf Connection – Ten To Ten
We are in 1984, Johannesburg, South Africa. At that time, friends Anthony and Enoch had been playing for a year at a new club called Gamsho, located on a farm on the outskirts of Kliptown Soweto.
Although the club would open earlier and the standard hours of most clubs was 6pm to 6am, the band would start playing at 10pm. With their standard set time and unique view on what a Disco should be, they chose the motto Ten to Ten as the album title because those were the hours when they were the stars and Disco ruled the dance floor. To get to the club was a bit difficult, you needed to drive along an empty road where thieves waited for any patrons trying their luck walking after dark. Since there was no transport during the night, the safest way to get home was to wait till the next morning to walk home. So crowds refused to leave and stayed enjoying good music and company until 10am. The lead off track “Let’s Freak Together” has powerful lyrics encouraging people to let go of their worries, put aside any differences and let the music bring everyone to freak and dance together. The whole album is about the joy we can all feel when we share the same moments and how music can bring people together in a unique way. The short-lived project of the two friends ended few years later and that’s what they left a one of kind album, back to life thanks to La Casa Tropical.
Hot Soul Singers - Game Of Love
Thembisa’s Hot Soul Singers were formed in 1975 by promoter and producer Sam “Jiza Jiza” Mthembu. In the early years the trio was called the Thembisa Happy Queens and consisted of sisters Ntombifuthi and Nombuso Mabaso and Lindiwe Ndlovu. The trio would start out playing Jive, Zulu Disco and other popular sounds of the 70s . In 1979 they became the Hot Soul Singers and would begin a career in the emerging Disco scene which their group name was now more fitting for.
Like most places in the world the early 80s was a fast changing time in music for South Africa. Although the Maxi had a disco standard for years in other parts of the world it had only recently been popularized in South Africa. Thanks to the Brenda and the Big Dudes smash, Weekend Special, the maxi took over as the preferred format for pop music, replacing the cheaper but time restricting 7” single. Singles were being pushed to the limits in the early 80’s with running times of 4+ minutes a sides by some labels. The Maxi allowed for groups to extend their grooves onto a full side and later album art containing smiling musicians infant of cheesy backdrops became the norm. Synthesizers had been used in pop music for years already but the DX7 wouldn’t land in the country for another year. Drum machines were being used but had yet to fully replace live drummers like would happen in the years to come. The recording of this new single would require a full band resulting in it being one of the gems of the crossover period before the complete midi takeover. Durban’s Graham Handley was recording some of the best upcoming Disco sounds for labels like Heads Music and groups like Kabasa and Masike Mohapi and was tasked as engineer. Other known musicians in the session would be Jimmy Mgwandi from the group Image, who’s signature bass playing can be heard on both songs. A young Daniel Phakoe aka “sox” was also present and took care of the male parts of the vocal line. Both musicians have writing credits along with lead singer Nombuso. Other possibilities of musicians would be Thami Mduli aka Professor Rhythm who had been with the group since their early days as well as a young Chicco who was best friends with Jimmy at the time.
The single, which was packaged in a customized but simple company disco sleeve, went on to do quite well. Less than a year later they would feature on a track with Sunset which would lead to them singing with Sounds of Soweto records label. The group would enjoy the growing fame when tragedy struck in 1984. On their way to a show in Mpumalanga they were involved in a car accident which took the life of Nombuso and left her husband Sam with a leg injury he limps with to this day. Upon recovering Sam would organize a tribute concert at Soweto’s Jabulani Amphitheatre. Even though the tragedy left the group broken and without a member the band went back to work to record their second full length album. They worked with Mac Mathunjwa who had written Nombuso’s favourite song “Going Crazy”. This album would be released with two different names and covers. One took the former singer’s favourite song as the album name and used a photo consisting of all three girls where the other released under the name “ A Tribute” and would only have the remaining members on the cover.
Although the tragedy never halted the group, moving forward the trio of singers would see a few members change. Lindiwe would leave to join Freeway and then become Linda “Babe” Majika so by the time they were ready to record in1986, now with Teal records, the only original member was Ntombifuthi. She would also shortly leave the group and provide backing vocals to other artists including her old band mate Linda. The Hot Soul Singers would be kept alive by Jiza Jiza and go on to record 5 more albums before calling it quits in 1990 after a successful 15 year career. Today the only core member left is Sam Mthembu who still lives in Thembisa and is occasionally promoting live events. Even though he did produce a handful of artists back in the 70s, his most significant additions to the music industry were the Hot Soul Singers and his event promotions, which is what he is best known for and will most likely be the legacy of his career.
The Boogie Man - Jika Jika
In the early 80s, South Africa, a mysterious man dressed like an undertaker started to rap in Zulu with an experiment of hip hop and funk under the pseudonym of “The Boogie Man”, decades before the genere became popular in South Africa. It turns out to be one of South Africa's most revered bassists, Sipho Gumede, first hit the big time with jazz supergroup Sakhile. As one might expect from a musician of his stature, the end result was a winner. Under the pseudonym he produce in 1985 one single hard-to-find album from which the single Jika Jika was taken, nowadays still lost into the obscurity...
Letta Mbulu - In The Music The Village Never Ends
South Africa's Letta Mbulu has put out a vast amount of quality material in her lifetime, and although the singer was based far away from Europe, her music was picked up by the London massive during the mid '80s at clubs like Dingwalls and featured heavily in the rare groove digs. The opener track from this 1983 album “In the music the village never ends”, "Sweet Julu" is now a London two-step classic, while other tracks like "Nomalizo" or "The Village" are more on the disco side, all of them filtered with a distinctly tropical edge!
Bayete - Blue Monday / Open Your Heart (Vula)
After a failed debut, two year absence from the studio, Bayete were ready to make another move. It was a desperate time for the band where they would do anything to keep their name relevant and on the radio. Going into the studio they had their lead single “Blue Monday”, a cheap sounding drinking song that was similar to everything else on the radio at the time. They hoped this would get people dancing on weekends before having to back to work hungover on Monday. They were confident in their lead single but needed a song to put on the b - side. They quickly put together a new song “Open Your Heart ( Vula )” which had a natural feel reminiscent of the pre MIDI early 80s disco sound. It would perfectly blend the use of Synths and Keyboards, funky guitar licks, all supporting the amazing vocals sang by Jabu. It would be this last minute filler that would capture the ear of DJ’s and music lovers 30 years after its release. Much like the self titled debut, Blue Monday had no real success but it kept the band together and most importantly solidified Jabu as the lead vocalist. After complaints from fans the rest of the band forced him to get up from behind the drums so the crowds could see where his voice was coming from. Bring back to life thanks to La Casa Tropical.
Tata - Afro Breakdance
South African disco, funk scene is an obscure universe to explore and there’s always some hidden gems to pull out. Here we are in 1985, vocalist and bassist Tata Sibeko, after playing in a jazz fusion band in the early 80s named Kabasa, decided to purse a solo career.
He only ever released two 12" singles as Tata, but this one - the 1985 double A-side treat "It's A Mess/Afro Breakdance" - has gone on to become something of an in-demand item amongst collectors of South African dance music. A-side "It's A Mess" is a fine chunk of breezy, lo-fi electrofunk in which Sibeko sings cheerily - despite the downbeat lyrical content - over colourful synths, bubbling machine drums and a thickset synth bassline. Arguably even better is "Afro Breakdance", which sounds like a superior, slightly deeper South African take on teapot-dance innovators Break Machine. mixed on IndiaStreetRadio.com