Friday, August 25, 2017

Lions of the Jungle

Now, this is an album I've been wanting to post for a long time!

Orchestra Simba Wanyika (Swahili for "Lion of the Jungle") was founded by the brothers Wilson Peter Kinyonga and George Peter Kinyonga of Tanzania, who joined the popular Jamhuri Jazz Band in 1966, where they served four years before leaving in 1971 to form the Arusha Jazz Band. A move to Mombasa, Kenya and a name change and in 1973 Simba Wanyika was born! They were to play a crucial role in the East African music scene for more that twenty years, giving rise, directly and indirectly to a plethora of other groups: Les Wanyika, Wanyika Stars, Orchestra Jobiso and many others. For more information about Simba Wanyika and its offshoots, go to the discography I authored with Doug Paterson and Peter Toll some years ago.

Haleluya (Polydor POLP 552, 1985) marks the high tide of Simba Wanyika's influence and creativity, following a flock of hit songs and right at the moment cassette tape piracy began to cripple the East African music scene. The band would go on to tour in Europe in 1989 and internationally in 1991, when they recorded their only world-wide release, Pepea (Kameleon KMLN 01, 1992). Sadly, George Peter Kinyonga passed away on Christmas Eve 1992 after a brief illness, and Wilson followed him in 1995. Although there was at least one recording made under the "Simba Wanyika" tag without the brothers, the band dissolved shortly after.

Enjoy Haleluya!

Orchestra Simba Wanyika - Haleluya

Orchestra Simba Wanyika - Mama Nyange

Orchestra Simba Wanyika - Mapenzi Yaniua

Orchestra Simba Wanyika - Baba na Mama

Download Haleluya as a zipped file here.

And, as an extra special bonus, here's Simba Wanyika's hit 1983 single, "Shillingi"(Polydor POL 543):

Orchestra Simba Wanyika - Shillingi


Unknown said...

It's 10.30 pm in Sinza - Dar es Salaam, a bit wind come apase a warm day, and such a pleasure to listen to Halleluya. Thank John

Unknown said...

Thanks for the post

Anonymous said...

Thanks, John. Most welcome!

Reggie said...

Thanks John, great stuff and much appreciated

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful, exquisite music by East Africa's greatest ever group, in my opinion. I was so lucky to see them on their last European tour, and they were a revelation - absolutely extraordinary! Nobody could suspect they were nearing the end of their time - they were at the height of their powers with an awesome, endless catalogue of beautiful rumba music. The Kinyonga brothers had that sibling telepathy totally nailed down, more than ANY other brothers act you could name, and they could really fly and weave onstage, guitars and voices together, making it sound so effortless. Two decades spent at the top of the live music tree in Nairobi really showed. None of the other Wanyika bands that Simba Wanyika spawned even came close to the original (though one or two were excellent in their own way)- if you get a chance to check out or share the Simba Wanyika Original LP please do. It'd be so wrong to mix these bands up or confuse them together - there was only one Simba Wanyika!

Huge thanks, John, for sharing this and pointing us to the video. Can this really be the only live footage we've been left with? Someone somewhere may be sitting on more video footage of this awesome band - please share it!
best wishes from MamboPete

John B. said...

Thanks, MamboPete. And everyone else!