Various: Next Stop . . . Soweto (Strut/Border)

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The Big Four: Wenzani Umoya
Various: Next Stop . . . Soweto (Strut/Border)

Subtitled "Township Sounds from the Golden Age of Mbaqanga" this lively, groove-oriented and guitar jangle collection of 20 songs comes from Strut, the same label which has brought you various Nigerian and Ethiopiques collections -- as well as the terrific Mulatu Astatke album and the Inspiration Information series.

This is the first volume of a promised three in which they scoop up examples of that danceable and rhythmic music which so inspired Paul Simon's Graceland and was played in townships in the Sixties and Seventies.

Township jive enjoyed a brief period of international popularity after Graceland (who said there weren't fashions in world music?) and collectors scooped up albums like the two volumes of Soweto Street Music, things by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Rough Trade's Soweto compilation and albums by saxophonist Dudu Pukwana.

As far as I can tell none of the artists on this collection appear on any of those above and perhaps the only familiar names might be "groaner" Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens. Most of these are lesser known bands and are lifted from rare 45s.

So here is a wonderful crossover of pop and jazz, Zulu music and Western instruments, and everywhere those staggeringly inventive guitarists.

I have a raw copy but am told the CD comes with extensive liner notes by one of the compilers, Frances Gooding, as well as archive photos. Available on vinyl from Strut too.

Subsequent volumes will pick up rare South African soul, funk, Hammond r'n'b and jazz.

This is another Strut series well worth tuning in for.  

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