Today's share is a 1979 album by the legendary mbaqanga groaner himself - Simon 'Mahlathini' Nkabinde.
Mahlathini's 1970s career had been decorated with a series of hits and misses. In late 1972, the groaner left the Mahotella Queens and joined a new group formed by some of the same ladies called Amakhosazana. A two-year period saw immense success, unsigned, but ended abruptly after the members were ripped off and cheated by aspiring impresario Piet Ntuli. Mahlathini and Amakhosazana ended up at Satbel under the careful production of C.B. Matiwane, this time recording as Mahlathini and The Queens. The gutsy, tough and raw music produced during this era can be found on the excellent Earthworks compilations The Lion of Soweto and King of the Groaners, as well here on Electric Jive. Matiwane's involvement in Satbel eventually waned and the company disintegrated around 1977. Mahlathini and The Queens moved over to CCP (a local subsidiary of EMI) under the production of none other than Piet Ntuli. Two LPs were produced (one of which can be found here) until Ntuli's corrupt ways finally dissolved the band. The Queens disintegrated but Mahlathini and Ndlondlo Bashise stayed on at EMI, this time under the production of the groaner's friend, sax jiver and occasional vocalist Bra Sello Mmutung.
By the time Indoda Mahlatini Na Madodana was recorded, mbaqanga had already started its sharp decline after a 15-year period as the preferred sound of the townships. In many ways this album is a pure oddity, combining the raw Satbel-era sound with some rather gaudy electric keyboard and - on one track - disco drums. Nonetheless, there are some goodies here. "Siyabuza" is fiery Mahlathini at his best, duetting with longtime musical associate Lazarus 'Boy Nze' Magatole. "Akekho" is another tune in the same great vein. Mahlathini, Boy Nze and Bra Sello handle most of the vocals, although they are joined by the Mahlathini Girls - Lindiwe Gamedi, Gugu Sithole and Hilda Tausi - on three of the tracks.
A strange one... but definitely worth a listen. Enjoy!
INDODA MAHLATINI NA MADODANA
produced by Bra Sello
Goli GOL (E) 307