The Soul Brothers

Jive Explosion

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A compilation of early-'80s recordings from the Soul Brothers, arguably South Africa's (and thus, the world's) greatest mbaqanga group. The recordings were all made after the death of founder Tuza Mthethwa, and both before and after the death of founding bassist Zenzele Mchunu (roughly half of the tracks feature Mchunu on bass, while the others feature his replacement, Sicelo Ndlela). There's a tight and able drum kept by Bongani Nxele throughout both periods, holding the beat along with the heavy basslines. The music is mildly monotonous, but always imbued with a thick sense of exuberance, both from David Masondo's sweet vocals and the sax playing, mainly from Thomas Phale and Lemmy Magaso. Guitars feature heavily in the finished product as well, as does much of African pop for the last couple of decades. Being a compilation from a number of records (Isilingo and Uthando being the latest ones to be scoured for this album), the best advice for someone looking for the full experience would be to find the various albums it was culled from. As the majority were Africa-only releases, however, this album makes an outstanding introduction to the sound of the Soul Brothers.

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