Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje – Siya Emshadweni

• “Siya Emshadweni” set to a picture of the housing album label.

9.7 “All-time classic Africana from South Africa”

From their album “Siya Emshadweni” (CBS ‎LAB-4042) released in 1973.

This late addendum to my album chart of ’73 was extremely worthwhile, nestling in as my 4th favourite long-player of the year. If you dig this you should grab yourself a copy from the Electric Jive blog as linked in the review ; – )

My album review:

Just as they did in 1968, Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje (The Now Now Girls) effortlessly breeze into my Top 10 albums of the year, although I should point out they are greatly assisted by some terrific male groaners, a formula which has been working wonders for many of the South African jive recordings of the recent years. As always, they are led by Hamilton Nzimande’s Isibaya Esikhulu production stable, and backed by the Gramophone Record Company. Clearly, this stable knows its business well – only the previous year they had been rocked by a mutiny, which left only one of the girls – Jane Dlami – standing. In no time at all, Nzimande hustled and re-recruited, bringing original member Nobesuthu Shawe back in to the fold, and adding others including Ruth Mafuxwana and Lindiwe Mthembu. The album kicks-off majestically with the title-track, “Siya Emshadweni”, which is not to be confused with their similarly titled single from several years previously. Apparently, they are going to a wedding. I don’t let that put me off though – those vocals are positively anthemic and stir my soul. Male vocalist Mthunzi Malinga plays a blinder here. Side 1 is by far the stronger – the first five tracks turn out to be my five favourite tracks. “Ziyathuthuka Izintombi” is next – it skips, stomps and rolls its rhythms in a way which is impossible to ignore; involuntary hipsway and headnod is an inevitability. Third track in, the foot-tapping “Siya Eswazini”, keeps up the high standard, although it’s a complete musical culling of Mahlathini’s “Shwele Baba” of 1972. The Mahlathini-esque groaner serves to cement the cheekiness. Completely different again is the fantastic “Udumbe Dumbe” which seems to have about 4 alternating male vocals. The drums on this one are also terrific, they really march and roll. Alas, the intense excitement is not maintained all the way, otherwise this may have been my album of the year, but there’s not a weak track on this fine LP. You can read more about it and download a copy from Electric Jive.

You can read more of my favoured album reviews from ’73 here.

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