Sunday, October 9, 2011

Penny Penny House !!! Shaka Bundu Eric Kobane King of Tsonga Music House !!!

I just visited Africa for the first time in my life and I really enjoyed my vacation. I went to Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Lesotho and South Africa. Trust me Africa is beautiful. I really fell in love with African culture. Africans are really loving and caring people. When I arrived in South Africa I could not believe that I was in Africa because the infrastructure is beautiful like I was in Hollywood. I went to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe...Wow the Waterfall is so amazing. So I just thought I could share my vacation experience with you guys.

Tsonga Disco: Penny Penny

Those of you who have been following the recent posts on the Kings of Tsonga Disco may have noticed a bit of a theme developing. First we had Paul Ndlovu who reigned until he was cut down in his prime. He was succeeded by Peta Teanet who reigned until he was cut down in his prime - dead at the age of 30. Fortunately that is where the theme ends. His successor, Penny Penny - so good he named himself twice - continues to thrive.
I refer once more to the indispensable Max Thamagana Mojapelo, from whom we learn that Mr Penny (or Penny to his friends) was born into a family of 68 children and 17 wives in the village of Hanani. At that point he was known by the rather more prosaic name of Eric Kobane.

The next bit of his story, as told by Max, reminds me of "Patches" by Clarence Carter: "Upon the death of his father his mother who was a farm worker could not afford to send him and six other siblings to school... [actually I stand corrected - Patches never quit school because that was Daddy's strictest rule]... At the age of nine he had to work in the tomato plantations of Mooketsi".

By 19 he was working at the West Driefontein gold mine where "he won many trophies for break-dancing before the harsh working conditions drove him back home". Thereafter he moved to Johannesburg where he supported himself through such jobs as fast food chef and street hawker until the fateful day when he was working as a cleaner in a music studio and he met Joe Shirimani - regular readers will know of my admiration for Joe and his genius as both producer and performer. Joe took him under his wing and the rest is history.

After all that, you will be impatient for some music. Here are a couple of tracks from Mr Penny's album "Juri Juri" (I don't know the date but it is early-mid 1990s I think):

"Ndziri Ndziri" - Penny Penny

"Mabiribiri" - Penny Penny

And here is Papa Penny in action with Shaka Bundu:

Penny Penny Shaka Bundu

Side 1
Ndzihere Bhi
Dance Khomela

Side 2
Shaka Bundu
Milandu Bhe
Shichangani (Remix)

Penny Penny hails from 1994 South Africa. The tape contains simple yet deep synth-pop anthems . And this music, a more pop-leaning side of Tsonga (or Shangaan) Disco, feels as if Fast Eddie hijacked the regional neo-traditional sounds. WBMX by way of Transvaal.

The world we live in now is an awesome one. For evidence look at this blog devoted entirely to Tsonga Disco. Follow the link for useful infos on artists like Penny Penny, who was fortunate enough to be born into a family of 68 children and 17 wives.

Tsonga Disco: Peta Teanet

Peta Teanet's reign as the King of Tsonga Disco came after that of Paul Ndlovu, who we featured a couple of weeks ago, and before that of Penny Penny (a treat yet to come). Between 1988 and 1996 he bestrode the world of Tsonga Disco like a mighty colossus.

For further information I am indebted once again to Max Thamagana Mojapelo’s book “Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music”. I don't know whether Max's image of himself as the Zelig of the music scene in the Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces is entirely accurate, but his book is certainly an invaluable source of information about South African music over the last thirty years or so.

Peta Teanet's story is classic soul singer territory. Born in a small village near the one-horse town of Tzaneen, his performing career started in church. The he formed a band called Relela who got a bit of airplay on Radio Tsonga, but were too far from the action to get much further locally. So he went off to Johannesburg where the streets are paved with gold in search of fame and fortune. After knocking on a lot of doors he eventually got a record deal. His first album, 1988's "Maxaka", represented what Max calls "the birth of an unchallengable hit machine". And so it was until he was tragically shot dead in 1996 at the age of only 30, leaving behind him eight wives (one of them apparently rejoicing in the name of Do It) and thirteen children. OK, that last bit is maybe a little less typical.

Today's selections come from a greatest hits compilation I picked up in Cape Town. According to Max, "Matswele" was "inspired by a young lady who was warning an unruly guy not to touch her breasts without permission", a cause we can all rally round I am sure. I have no idea what the other one is about.

"Matswele" - Peta Teanet

"Nwayingwane" - Peta Teanet

Tsonga Disco: Paul Ndlovu

Today we bring you the first fruits of my shopping spree in Cape Town that has trebled the size of my Tsonga Disco collection from 4 CDs to 12 CDs. A brief recap for newer readers – the Tsonga people are from NE South Africa and southern Mozambique and Zimbabwe and are sometimes also known as Shangaan. Tsonga Disco is disco music by Tsongas (you could probably work that bit out for yourself).

First up are a couple of tracks from Paul Ndlovu. What little I know about him is derived entirely from Max Thamagana Mojapelo’s book “Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music”, extracts of which can be found on Google Books.

According to Max, Paul started out in the group called The Big Cats in the late 1970s and moved onto a duo called The Street Kids in the early 1980s before going solo in 1985. Says Max: “It was clear that the Shangaan disco music king had arrived. Paul’s trademark was his sailor’s cap. The crowds loved this humble star from the North”. His solo career was brought to an abrupt end in September 1986 when he died in circumstances on which Max does not elaborate other than to say that “the disappointment and disbelief, as in Tupac Amaru Shakur and Elvis Presley’s cases, created so many myths around his death”.

The album I bought - “The Unforgettable Paul Ndlovu” - has only six tracks. Half of them are sung in English and sound like bog-standard 1980s disco to me with no discernible Tsonga influence. The other three are much better, and here are two of them:

"Mina Ndzi Rhandza Wena"

"Hita Famba Moyeni"

And here is another one that was a big favourite in the discos back in 1985:

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