Various Artists: Next Stop … Soweto Vol. 2: Soultown. R&B, Funk & Psych Sounds From The Townships 1969-1976

Various Artists: Next Stop … Soweto Vol. 2: Soultown. R&B, Funk & Psych Sounds From The Townships 1969-1976
Strut Records continue their exploration into African music with Next Stop … Soweto Vol. 2: Soultown. R&B, Funk & Psych Sounds From The Townships 1969-1976. The Next Stop…Soweto series is a three part series dedicated to exploring the archives of South African music. While other of Strut’s releases have explored African jazz, Soweto is committed to more mainstream friendly genres. The compilation looks at music that was directly influenced by US soul and R&B acts like Booker T. & the M.G.’s.
The Booker T. influence is pretty evident throughout the album. The groups of South Africa seemed to have an affinity for the Hammond Organs that Booker T. and Jimmy Smith popularized. The Hammond Organ provides the backdrop for the album’s opening track, “Khubani” by J.K. Mayengar & The Shingwedzi Sisters. The track features a great thumping bass line which is overlaid with a noodly guitar. The percussion on the track mixes traditional African rhythm with what would become trademarks of American disco. The vocals mix strong male voice with a more traditional female African chorus accentuating them with various chants. The track is really kicks off the album with a party like atmosphere that is continued for the majority of the album.
Stand out tracks include: “Wozani Mahpi” by Mahotella Queens which features a little more traditional funk drums, “Soul Time Nzimande Go” by Bra Sello & His Band which sounds like James Brown‘s back-up band, and “Soul Imbaq” by Soul Prophets which has a bit more of a reggae influence to it.
Overall, Next Stop … Soweto Vol. 2 does not just appeal to esoteric world music collectors. The sounds on the album are universally poppy and the musicianship is top notch. The only thing I can imagine an American audience not liking is that none of the vocals are in English, otherwise the album should cross cultural boundaries.
Rating: 8.9/10
MP3: J.K. Mayengar & The Shingwedzi Sisters “Khubani”
Buy: iTunes or Insound