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Saxophone Jive and Mystery Tapes

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This mix has actually been out for a little while, but after it turned our office into a full-blown dance party in roughly 2 minutes, we figured that it would probably be best to spread the word a bit further. Here are the basic facts of the situation- Graceland sold approximately 1,000,000,000 copies.* (*not entirely true) Paul Simon was first turned onto the South African sounds that inspired much of an album by listening to a compilation tape called  Accordion Jive Hits Vol. 2. That tape must be pretty awesome right?

Well…. Probably. However, we don’t really know. Because despite all of the reissue fever in the world, the tape is a total phantom. A no-show. Can’t be found. Zip. Zilch. The company that released it in the first place? Fans can’t get a word out of them.

Which brings us to this mixtape. It’s well known that Paul Simon shared songwriting credit with a number of the African musicians who played on Graceland because of his extensive use of their music. Which means that theoretically, it should be possible to search for gumboot and jive tracks that share musical links with the songs that ended up on Graceland. While not perfect, the resulting reverse engineered mix would probably sound something like the tape that first inspired Simon.

This is exactly what the half-crazed (and half-legendary) workaholic(s) who put together this mix for the Hectic City blog have done. With the addition of some other choice cuts, the result is an uber-satisfying jive stew. It’s also a reminder of the intense vitality of the nation’s music during this period. Due to the complex path taken by South Africa’s cultural politics during the seventies and eighties, styles like jive and mbaqanga lost much of their popularity while newer musical forms like bubblegum came to dominate the musical landscape. That change, coupled with music’s relative scarcity in the west (a search on Amazon for jive CDs only turned up a single compilation still in print) means that much of this will probably be pretty new for most listeners. Which is all the more reason to thank Hectic city, and turn it upppp.

You can read more about the compilation process (and see a full tracklist) on the Hectic City Blog.

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  • Angelina Thompson

    Dance inducing…Love it!