“Meet The Mahotella Queens” by Mahotella Queens - album review

TJR says

This was a hugely enjoyable debut set from the infamous singing group which would eventually find adoring fans in every corner of the globe. Over the decades which followed, the line-up would change many times but the brand retained its strength always. The group were named after a road sign, somewhere between Pietersburg and Johannesburg, which read: “amahhotela (hotel), 3 miles”, a name which tickled producer Rupert Bopape so much he immortalized it via his Mahotella Queens. By 1966, they were way more famous than an old road sign, and had an album of works on offer! “Meet The Mahotella Queens” was only the second LP on the Motella label, and was the first to be billed to a single group – a sign of the buzz that had been created in the preceding couple of years. The front cover of the LP was shot in 1965, and featured (L to R): Ethel Mngomezulu, Simon Mahlathini Nkabinde, Nunu Maseko and Hilda Tloubatla.

The album rounded up 12 single sides, almost all of which had appeared in 1965. Stepping up to the mic as soloists at various times are: Simon Nkabinde, Windy Sibeko, Nunu Maseko and Hilda Tloubatla. The group consists of: Marks Mankwane (lead guitar), Lucky Monama (rhythm guitar), Vivian Ngubane (rhythm guitar), Joseph Makwela (bass) and Wilfred Mosebi (drums). Catchy proto-funk chops from Lucky Monama preside over the fantastic opener, “Kuqale Bani”, which allows the listener multiple opportunities to sing-a-long with the oft-repeated title in a range of distinctive styles to suit boy or girl, man or woman. The harmony blend is immediately intoxicating – the whole template as described is the key to the success of the group in purely audio terms. Their dance routines and energetic live performances sealed the deal all over their Southern African homelands at the time.

The pure and true lead vocal of Hilda Tloubatla shines on track 4, “We Boy”, the first track on the LP to be credited to a group member, Nuno Maseko. Aside from the ever-wonderful vocal harmonies, I particularly love that proto-reggae bassline. Johannesburg calling Kingston, come in Kingston! I can’t help but wonder if there was a connecting party line here. “Hamba Mzala” immediately follows, and benefits immensely from the rough and ready throaty growl of Simon Nkabinde played against the sweet girlishness of Windy Sibeko. Meanwhile in the background, Marks Mankwane traces all sorts of pretty patterns up and down the strings. On this evidence, team Mahotella clearly had much to offer.

Final word to the liner notes which read:

“Not long ago – about two years – the country was swept by a craze for a new kind of jive. First presented and popularised by the Mahotella Queens, it shows no signs of decreasing – in fact it gets bigger with the release of each new “Queens” record. Demonstrating the dance all over the country, The Mahotella Queens (not to forget their “King” Mahlatini Nkabinde) have become the idols of the young “with it” crowd. Growing from original “Jive Motella” many other fads and variations have recently hit the scene – all of them introduced and demonstrated by The Queens and their King: Jive Mgqashiya (which is available on MO 33 and, incidentally is named after the word meaning the Bantu traditional way of dancing), Jive Jibav (on MO 50) and most recently a wild, crazy jive called ‘S’modern’. The charm, vivacity and ultra-modern go-ahead spirit of these vital young artists fully deserves to have captivated the country. Ever since they started, back in Johannesburg in 1963, their fame has been growing by leaps and bounds. Today they have no equal in their field. But although they are the ones who glory in all the limelight, they owe an enormous debt to the “man behind the scenes”. He is the “brain” who guided, formed and trained the group – Rupert “Bops” Bopape.”

The Jukebox Rebel
04-Mar-2012

A1 [02:41] 8.2.png Mahotella Queens - Kuqale Bani (Rupert Bopape) Africana
A2 [02:41] 7.1.png Mahotella Queens - Dinaka (Rupert Bopape) Africana
A3 [02:29] 6.7.png Mahotella Queens - Sonny Boy (Shadrack Piliso, Rupert Bopape) Africana
A4 [02:11] 8.4.png Mahotella Queens - We Boy (Nunu Maseko) Africana
A5 [02:14] 7.7.png Mahotella Queens - Hamba Mzala (Simon Nkabinde) Africana
A6 [02:26] 7.4.png Mahotella Queens - Izinyoni (Traditional) Africana
A7 [02:17] 7.5.png Mahotella Queens - Inxeba Lendoda (Simon Nkabinde) Africana
B1 [02:11] 7.4.png Mahotella Queens - Elidlubedu (Shadrack Piliso, Rupert Bopape) Africana
B2 [02:14] 7.4.png Mthunzini Girls - Niyi Gcine (Rupert Bopape) Africana
B3 [02:22] 6.8.png Mahotella Queens - Ikhula (Rupert Bopape) Africana
B4 [02:10] 6.7.png Mahotella Queens - Umoya (Shadrack Piliso, Rupert Bopape) Africana
B5 [02:09] 6.6.png Mahotella Queens - Amaqawe (Shadrack Piliso, Rupert Bopape) Africana
B6 [02:20] 6.4.png Mahotella Queens - Izulu Nge Lami (Shadrack Piliso, Rupert Bopape) Pop
B7 [02:04] 6.2.png Mahotella Queens - Ekuseni (Shadrack Piliso, Rupert Bopape) Africana




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