Songlines, June 08
“You’ve heard the music, now book the holiday”
These days we are inundated with multi-format packages. It’s all a bit baffling but it all serves to give us more information and entertainment – which surely has to be a good thing. Nascente’s Experience series is a simple enough concept: double-CD plus booklet. The booklet for Experience South Africa is a 40-page basic travel guide with the essential information that anyone planning a trip might need. It tells you how to get there, when to go, what to look out for when you get there, and the practical bits about money, health, safety and communications. It’s enough to get you started and certainly generates the inspiration to go. However, it is the 32 tracks of popular music that most people will buy this for. As an introduction to the different styles of South African music of the last 50 years this is very comprehensive. There are plenty of big hits, a few less well-known songs, and also some artists that are new to me. The classic 1950s styles of kwela, marabi, penny whistle and vocal harmony are well represented by such obvious big-hitters as Miriam Makeba’s ‘Click Song’, Manhattan Brothers’ ‘Vuka Vuka’ and other essential artists such as Spokes Mashiyane and Hugh Masekela. More jazz flavours abound courtesy of Dorothy Masuka, African Jazz Pioneers, Tananas and Bheki Mseleku. Harder-edged styles like mbaqanga and maskanda are represented by artists like the Soul Brothers, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens, plus Busi Mhlongo. And the more up-to-date pop styles and hip-hop influences come from Yvonne Chaka Chaka, M’du, Prophets of Da City, Skwatta Kamp and the late reggae star Lucky Dube. It’s a great introduction to South African music, and a real bargain.