Showing posts with label Zimbabwe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Zimbabwe. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Advance Kusugar! Zimbabwe Hits Vol. 3



We conclude our overview of DiscAfrique's Zimbabwe Hits compilations with Volume 3 of the series - Advance Kusugar! (DiscAfrique AFRI LP 006, 1988). Some of the biggest names of late '80s Zimbabwe music are here, and some lesser-known talents as well.

Jonah Moyo founded Devera Ngwena ("Follow the Crocodile") in 1979 to entertain the workers at Mashaba Asbestos Mine, which became their sponsor. Their combination of Congolese rumba and indigenous sounds immediately became a sensation, the group waxing numerous singles like "Solo na Mutsai," "Taxi Driver" and many others, including this offering, "Karekita"."What's your problem? Love can't be bought. It floats like the wind."


Explorations of the mbira, or thumb piano, by Master Chivero, about whom I've not been able to find anything. "Get on your bike and go after the sweet one. Marry her and do not lose her."


R.U.N.N. Family was made up of members of the Muparutsa family. The song is a tribute to the then-recently-departed President of Mozambique, who died in a plane crash under suspicious circumstances, probably the work of South Africa. He is compared to other African freedom fighters: "Someone keeps stirring and heating the pot. [Herbert] Chipeto, [Steve] Biko and now Samora Machel. They kill our friends. We can only pray to God and remember the inheritance of Samora Machel. Our life is the struggle."


Here are the Jairos Jiri Band, whom we remember from Take Cover!, the first volume of Zimbabwe Hits. "Chiedza is so beautiful. Her face is like a snake's egg. The sun is rising and she is my morning. I love her and will marry her."


More friends from Take Cover! "Business in town. 'Father, my business has failed. I do not want to steal. I will join the service economy. The gift of business, alas, I did not have it." 


"Nehanda, the grandmother of the ZANU people prophesied that one day they would rule themselves in a happy and free Zimbabwe."


"Ndicheni" is possibly in the Chewa language, and might be about a woman who abandons her children to go drinking in town.


"Mother, father, welcome your son. I have killed a buck and a kudu." 


"I love you more when you are happy." 


"Speak! Talk! Say what you have to say. The disadvantages of polygamy. How many women can you offer the sun and moon? How many wedding dresses will you spin from the flowers and trees? Will they believe you and how do you expect to be treated? Hell hath no fury like a woman spurned." 


"Friend, the beer hall or the church? Choose your road. Remember that to drink is a sin against God." 


Download Advance Kusugar! as a zipped file here. Researching this post I found the book Roots Rocking in Zimbabwe by Fred Zindi (Mambo Press, Harare, 1985) very helpful. Descriptions of the songs were provided by the liner notes of Advance Kusugar!.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Goodbye Sandra: Zimbabwe Hits Vol. 2



We continue our exploration of the rockin'sounds of '80s-era Zimbabwe with Goodbye Sandra, the second volume of the Zimbabwe Hits series (DiscAfrique AFRILP 05, 1988). In contrast to the first outing in the series, this one features only four artists, but they're all great. Let's go!

We remember John Kazadi from Volume One of Zimbabwe Hits - Take Cover! John was originally from Lubumbashi, Congo, and here covers the lovely song "Le Bucheron" by the Congolese singer Franklin Boukaka. "Evoking the ancestors and those who died for liberation. It's time to enjoy the fruits of freedom and rejoice.":


Many reading this need no introduction to Oliver Mutukudzi. Apart from Thomas Mapfumo, he's probably the best-known Zimbabwean musician in the world, and no wonder - his deep, soulful voice is unparalleled. "Nzara" recounts the hunger and suffering during a drought:


During the Zimbabwe War of Liberation musician Simon Chimbetu fled into exile in Tanzania, where he joined the Zimbabwe African National Union and entertained its troops in exile. Shortly after Independence he joined with his brother Naison to form the Marxist Brothers. The brothers split in 1988, Simon forming the Dendera Kings and Naison forming the Gee 7 Commandos. In "Goodbye Sandra" the singer is bidding adieu to his foreign girlfriend and returning home to Zimbabwe:


The Sungura Boys were the band of John Chibadura (John Nyamukoko). Chibadura was born in 1957. Orphaned at an early age and forced to abandon his schooling, he worked a number of menial jobs before distinguishing himself on the guitar and founding the Holy Brothers with his friend Shepherd Chinyani. After a number of personnel and name changes the group became the Sungura Boys. At some point (either 1983 or 1985) John left to form his own band, the Tembo Brothers. Sadly, John Chibadura died in 1999. "Soweto" is "a song about suffering, pain, hardship and death in the struggle for freedom":


"Love is blind. If only it could stay that way."


"Africa" is "about the liberation of all Africa as the struggle for decolonization continues":


"A disease that has killed the singer's sister and uncle now afflicts his grandmother. Leaving the city to join her, his train breaks down":


"Tungamira" is about a young friend "who dies without a chance to say goodbye. He is asked to lead the way to heaven (or peace)." I will be posting more music by Oliver Mutukuzi on Likembe in the future: 


A sarcastic song about Abel Muzorewa's hapless "Zimbabwe/Rhodesia" regime, which held sway for only a few months before Independence in 1980. "How can a country possess two names?" I will be posting more music by John Chibadura on Likembe in the future: 


A dub version of the opening tune:


Download Goodbye Sandra as a zipped file here. Researching this post I found the book Roots Rocking in Zimbabwe by Fred Zindi (Mambo Press, Harare, 1985) very helpful. Descriptions of the songs were provided by the liner notes of Goodbye Sandra.


Friday, May 18, 2018

Take Cover! Zimbabwe Hits Vol. 1



Take Cover! Zimbabwe Hits Vol. 1 (DiscAfrique AFRI LP 01, 1986), and its sequels, Goobye Sandra: Zimbabwe Hits Vol. 2 (DiscAfrique AFRI LP 05, 1988) and Advance Kusugar! Zimbabwe Hits Vol. 3 (AFRI LP 006, 1988) capture a magic moment in African music - the optimistic years immediately after Zimbabwean independence in 1980. Thomas Mapfumo and the Bhundu Boys are familiar artists from this period, but these collections highlight musicians who aren't as well-known outside of Zimbabwe. I'm pleased to offer Take Cover! today, with the other two volumes to follow soon.

The Jairos Jiri Band has been one of the leading musical congregations of independent Zimbabwe. It is the official orchestra of the Jairos Jiri Rehabilitation Centre, which for six decades has worked to to rehabilitate and integrate into society Zimbabweans with disabilities. All of the members of the band are "disabled" in one way or another, and Paul Matavire, who led the group for a number of years, was blind. Matavire left the band in 1995 and died in 2005. Following a period of inactivity, the Jairos Jiri Band was recently revived under the leadership of Stewart Njodo."Take Cover" refers to the privations Zimbabweans suffered during the bitter struggle against white minority rule:


Ephat Mujuru (1950-2001) was well-known to African music aficionados in the US, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, where he was resident for many years at the University of Washington in Seattle, lecturing and teaching the mbira (thumb piano). Mujuru founded his first musical group, Chaminuka, in 1972, renaming it Spirit of the People after the fall of the Rhodesian regime in 1980:


The Family Singers, led by Jonathan and Shuvai Wutawunashe, were a leading Zimbabwean gospel group of the '80s. "Tarira Nguva," their first single and a smash hit, shows the clear influence of American country-western music. Shuvai Wutawanashe sings, "All Christians must work hard to uphold Christianity, as the devil is working hard to destroy us.":


The O.K. Success had their origins in Congo, but since their arrival in the former Rhodesia in 1960 they have become thoroughly Zimbabwean, both in personnel and in the subject matter of their music. The lead singer of "B.P.," James Chimombe, got his start with Thomas Mafumo's Acid Band before moving on to O.K. Success, and later recording with the Huchi Band and Ocean City Band. In 1990 he became the first prominent Zimbabwean musician to die of AIDS. The lyrics: "To err is human my friend. We all make mistakes at some stage in our lives":


Over on the Electric Jive blog Tony Hunter describes his first encounter with Africa Melody: “...I had a friend who lived in Kwe Kwe and I stayed with his family. There was a band that’s sound captivated me. Africa Melody was led by a guy called John Kazadi who I think came from Lubumbashi [Congo]. The few references to the band describe it as sungura music but to me it had less of rhumba feel and at times more of country rock sound with the guitars right upfront...." "John Waenda" is about a widow whose husband died, leaving her no money to look after her children:


Born in the late '30s, Safirio Madzikatire ("Mukadota") became well-known as a comedian with his own radio program, "Mhuri Yekwa Rwizi." He soon transitioned to making music with various musicians, including the Brave Sun Band, led by his son Elijah, the Mukadota Family and this group, the Sea Cottage Sisters. In this song a man named Dickson apologizes to his girlfriend for letting her down and begs her to take him back:


In this song, a man named George leaves his long-time girlfriend for a nurse who buys him a car:


I'm not sure if there is any relationship between this Super Sounds and another group called the Ndolwane Super Sounds. In "Chipendani" a young man inherits a fortune from his father but soon squanders it. To survive he is forced to make his living as a herder:


A tribute to the late Jairos Jiri, founder of the Jairos Jiri Rehabilitation Centre, which has worked for six decades helping disabled individuals who have been abandoned by their families:


BBC Radio host John Peel described The Four Brothers band as "the best live band in the world." From 1977 to the early 2000s they were a mainstay of the Zimbabwe music scene, finally succumbing to the death or disablement of the founding members. There have been efforts to revive the group, with limited success. "Wapenga Nayo Bonus" decries the practice of people spending their yearly bonus unwisely:


"Katarina" was one of the biggest hits in Zimbabwe during the '80s. A young man desires to leave his home because everyone is jealous of his relationship with a beautiful dancer named Katarina. Later he decides he will ignore the gossip and stay at home:


Enjoy this video of Mukadota and the original "Katarina":


"Amayo" is in Chewa, a language spoken in neighboring Malawi. A young man objects to the woman his mother has picked for him to marry:


Download Take Cover! Zimbabwe Hits Vol. 1 as a zipped file here. Researching this post I found the book Roots Rocking in Zimbabwe by Fred Zindi (Mambo Press, Harare, 1985) very helpful. The translations of the lyrics are taken from the US edition of Take Cover! (Schanachie 43045, 1987).




Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Double Dose of Dembo




Some years ago Sterns/Earthworks released a CD entitled Roots Rock Guitar Party. I remember thinking at the time: how can you assemble a collection of Zimbabwe's greatest guitarists and not include Leonard Dembo?

I would presume that the only reason Dembo was omitted from this otherwise excellent compilation was a matter of licencing. In the early '90s, he had risen to the pinnacle of the Zimbabwean music scene, only to die prematurely of AIDS in April 1996.

Dembo was born as Kwangwari Gwaindepi in 1959 and gained notice in 1982 as a member of a band called The Outsiders. Disagreements with his band-mates followed, and in 1985 he established Barura Express, which quickly notched a series of hits, notably the 1991 smash "Chitekete," about a young man who wishes to marry a beautiful lady. It is one of the biggest-selling Zimbabwean records of all time and is played at weddings to this day.

The Barura Express cassette The Singles Collection Vol. 2 (Gramma ZC 108) is a singular example of modern African guitar music, notably the opening tune "Zii-Zii," a song about a lover who is far away, whose repetitive motifs evoke a feeling of restrained euphoria:

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Zii-Zii

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Dudzai

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Kodzero

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Kukura Hakutane

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Gire

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Sheri Unodada

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Ndipeiwo Pokupotera



The Very Best of Leonard Dembo (Gramma ZC 113), covers some of the same ground, and includes "Chitekete":


Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Shamwari Yangu Warova

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Venenziya

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Dudzai

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Wada Ne N'anga

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Chitekete

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Manager

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Sharai

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Vane Mazita Ngavaremwkedzwe

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Kukura Kwedu

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Zii-Zii

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Dambudzo

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Murombo

Leonard Dembo & Barura Express - Kukura Hakutane


Read about the Zimbabwean artwork in this post here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Real Rumbira Sounds



A major force in the Zimbabwe music scene of the 1980s, the Real Sounds of Africa were in fact founded by a group of Congolese musicians in Zambia in 1975. Moving to Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia under the white-minority government of Ian Smith) in 1978, they became an immediate sensation, releasing their first LP, Harare (Zimbabwe ZML 1015), in 1984.

The foremost Congolese-origin band in Zimbabwe, the Real Sounds forged a unique blend of rumba music and indigenous sounds that they called rumbira. Success followed upon success, and in 1986 the group toured Europe, releasing two albums in the UK, Wende Zako (Cooking Vinyl COOK 004, 1987), and Seven Miles High (Big Records BIG 1, 1989).

I don't know what has become of the Real Sounds, but their music, especially their football songs, continues to be popular to this day.  Enjoy Harare!

The Real Sounds - Kapinga

The Real Sounds - Ozweli Ngai Mbanda

The Real Sounds - Baninga

The Real Sounds - Harare

The Real Sounds - Chamunorwa

The Real Sounds - Dynamos Versus Caps (0-0)

Download Harare as a zipped file here.