“Noma Ungayaphi Bakhala Ngathi” by Usizwe Namatshitshi - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1971Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

By the dawn of the seventies, there was more to the vibrant South African music scene than just Gallo Music. The popular Usizwe Namatshitshi (which could be translated as Sizwe Mazibuko and the Princesses, but then the names themselves could also literally translate as “even the young girls heard us”) were a part of producer Hamilton Nzimande’s rival production stable at Isibaya Esikhulu Music and had at least two albums released on the CBS label in 1971. The front cover paints a wonderful picture of the set up at play here. Up front most often was singer-groaner Sizwe Mazibuko, backed by the female quintet Amatshitshi (The Princesses), who included Busi Dlamini, Nomusa Mathebula and Dudu Hlophe. As you can see, traditional costume and dance was a key concept for the group; these are tough rhythms and they’re ready to do battle!

My two favourites on side 1 were written by princesses – “Amaqembu Ayagiya”, a catchy mid-paced number penned by Nomusa Mathebula and “Emakhuzeni” written by Dudu Hlophe, which comes complete with wonderful, repetitive funky chops, glorious harmonies and, what can only be described as, some strange sneezing vocalisms from our main man. Album highlight for me is “Uyangizungeza Lombemu” on side 2, which is chock-full of character. A strange loping rhythm frames the bed, whilst a super-sweet female lead vocal contrasts with the gruff male. The backing vocals veer between melodious harmonising and chanting with whistling. The overall effect is mesmerising. The fast-paced “Madoda Sesikhathele” maintains the high immediately, with some superb bass and rhythm guitar interplay that almost flirts with the Jamaican Ska beat – it’s completely fantastic. This is a strong album and is easy to love.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:50] 7.1.png Usizwe Namatshitshi - Noma Ungayaphi Bakhala Ngathi (Hamilton Vala Nzimande) Africana
A2 [03:05] 7.5.png Usizwe Namatshitshi - Amaqembu Ayagiya (Nomusa Mathebula) Africana
A3 [03:51] 8.0.png Usizwe Namatshitshi - Emakhuzeni (Dudu Hlophe) Africana
A4 [02:54] 7.0.png Usizwe Namatshitshi - Sesiyabaleka (Hamilton Vala Nzimande) Africana
A5 [02:20] 6.5.png Usizwe Namatshitshi - Ubaba Ufikile (Hamilton Vala Nzimande) Africana
A6 [02:29] 6.5.png Usizwe Namatshitshi - Ematubatuba (Absolom Mkhwanazi) Africana
B1 [02:32] 7.4.png Usizwe Namatshitshi - Sizongena Kanjani Enkumba (Hamilton Vala Nzimande) Africana
B2 [03:09] 8.9.png Usizwe Namatshitshi - Uyangizungeza Lombemu (Hamilton Vala Nzimande) Africana
B3 [02:35] 8.2.png Usizwe Namatshitshi - Madoda Sesikhathele (Rominus Dube) Africana
B4 [02:36] 6.4.png Usizwe Namatshitshi - Mnikeleni Induku Yakhe (Albert Motha) Africana
B5 [04:20] 6.9.png Usizwe Namatshitshi - Siyatshintsha Kulonyaka (Hamilton Vala Nzimande) Africana
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