Various Artists: Next Stop…Soweto

Next Stop…Soweto is yet another compilation of African music from Strut Records. While they have procured compilations for Nigeria and Ethiopia, this is the first compilation focusing South Africa; Soweto is an area of Johannesburg. The compilation bills itself as “Township Sounds from the Golden Age of Mbaqangwa”. Mbaqangwa, or Mbaqanga as I’ve seen it spelled everywhere else except for this CD’s cover, is a style of music that originated in the 1960s in South Africa. The sound is a mixture of western instruments and traditional African vocals.
Next Stop…Soweto was put together by ethnomusicologist Duncan Brooker who is the owner of the Kona Label and has put together compilations like Afro-Rock Vol 1. The compilation represents several years worth of work researching and digging through vinyl.

Besides being an historical pre-apartheid musical document, the compilation also delivers the jams. “Mr. J.S. Mpanza” by Lucky Strike Sisters sounds like Les Paul guest appearing on The Chiffons’ “One Fine Day”. Piston Mahlathini & the Queens’ “Nomacala” sounds like a gospel version of Buddy Holly‘s “Peggy Sue”. S. Piliso & His Super Seven’s “Kuya Hanjwa” sounds like the precursor to the Go! Team‘s “Feelgood By Numbers”.

Overall, this compilation pretty much delivers on all fronts. It’s a great addition to any crate-digger or anthropologist’s collection as well as just for people who want some more esoteric listening.

Rating: 8.3/10

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