Tune Us Your Top 10


from Dawn of Time till today

  • 'Ngazula Emangomeni', by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds (1942). The other great song from the man who gave us Mbube, this a-capella piledriver achieves an intensity level that puts many bands from the amps and electrification era to shame.
  • 'Skokiaan', by the Bulawayo Cold Storage Commission Dance Band (1954) Frenzied, frantic jive classic.
  • 'Ishumelosheleni', by Manhattan Bros. (1959) Astonishing what those Sophiatown cats could do with just two chords. In fact, astonishing what they did with almost everything. Rob Allingham's compilation of their greatest hits 1948-59 (Gallotone) was a blinding revelation.
  • 'Cry to Me', by the Staccatos (circa 1969). In which Steve Lonsdale proves for all time that a white man can take a Solomon Burke song and break its back, thereby settling all debates about race and soul. {'Cry To Me' was written by Bert Russell aka Bert Berns - real name: Bertrand Russell Bernstein - ed.}
  • 'Mannenberg', by Dollar Brand (circa 1972). His ascetic eminence Abdullah Ibrahim seems scornful of this creation, as if it was just a throwaway for dancing in shebeens. But that's exactly what we imagined we were doing, in the darkest days of apartheid, in the white suburbs, at dance parties in our fathers' garages.
  • 'Impi', by Johnny Clegg and was it Juluka (circa 1982). What can I say? Still get cold shivers down my spine every time I hear it.
  • 'Whistle', by Via Afrika (circa 1983). It's a brainless dance tune, but f*ck, did it kick. Those girls always seemed the most glamourous creatures ever to emerge from Jo'burg, "New York of Africa" and "second greatest city after Paris."
  • 'Kambora Mina', by Paul Ndlovu (1985). I always thought Shangaan had the potential to be as internationally big as reggae. If Ndlovu had survived and continued in this glorious vein, it might have happened.
  • 'Reggae Vibes is Cool' by Bernoldus Niemand (1985). A forlorn and touching little satire of white East Rand youth culture from a talent of Tom Waits' stature.
  • "Kaff*r", by Arthur (1994) The song that made Afrikaans cool again, and nice dance groove to boot. Also a highpoint of the genre, which was soon to degenerate into McKwaito (myns insiens anyway).
Plus four that didn't make it but would on a different day.
  • 'Liefling', by Ge Korsten. Sure, pure schmalz, but the patriot says it was at least as good as anything by the Three Tenors and nearly ten years ahead of them.
  • 'Zambezi', by Nico Carstens. The suits! The rings! Sex, drugs, brandy & coke! This guy was the Frank Sinatra of Kroonstad and Klerksdorp.
  • 'Boesak Awethu', from Shifty Records' "FOSATU Worker Choruses." What a tuneful revolution we almost had.
  • 'Afrikaners is Plesierig', by Karen Zoid. The song that finished the job Arthur started (see above).

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