wed 17/07/2024

Music Reissues Weekly: The Movers - Vol 1 1970-1976 | reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: The Movers - Vol. 1 1970-1976

Music Reissues Weekly: The Movers - Vol. 1 1970-1976

Unstoppable South African groove machine gets another day in the sun

The Movers get in the grooveAnalog Africa

After a burst of gun-shot drumming, “Hot Coffee” instantly hits its groove. Simple but insistent guitar, a rubbery bass line and electric organ all fall into line. For the instrumental’s two-and-half minutes, it is unstoppable.

“Gig Soul Party” is as tight but more ornate as the organ playing incorporates flourishes. There’s a spindly solo guitar line and some funky-drummer drumming too. But it’s as effective. Dance floors would have been crowded.

The Movers_Vol. 1 - 1970-1976Then there’s “Soul Crazy,” another instrumental with the same emphasis on a rigid rhythmic foundation and forward motion. A guitar solo is minimal and short, but spot-on in this context.

The band which recorded these winners was The Movers, a South African outfit which formed in the Alexandra township outside Johannesburg in 1969. Their first album emerged in 1970 and was followed, up to 1991, by about 25 more. Around 100 singles and EPs were issued. All the time, there seems to have been have line-up changes and also a shift from instrumental music to the incorporation of various vocalists. The first Movers album included the tracks “Soul On The Moon” and “Soul Crazy,” so it was obvious from where inspiration was drawn.

Vol. 1 1970-1976 is a 14-track Movers comp mixing instrumentals and vocal cuts. For those unfamiliar with their whopping back catalogue, it’s an introduction and presumably represents the band in the best light. As there no clunkers, the job is done.

The MoversAccording to the liner notes, The Movers are “one of the most legendary bands to emerge from the South African soul scene, there is almost no information available about the group or their career.” The text gets to grips with the information gap by including interviews with their founder Lulu Masilela, early vocalist Blondie Makhene (age 14 when he joined the band in 1970) and their saxophonist Kenneth Siphayi.

Siphayi recounts that their early single “Crying Guitar” (not included here) “sold over 500,000 copies within a period of three months and with my first royalty cheque I bought a Volkswagen bus that would enable us to tour with more freedom and transport the equipment with more ease. We criss-crossed the country with that bus, visiting places we’d only heard of from newspapers, reaching Cape Town, Durban and even Pietermaritzburg.” Siphayi asserts they had sold “millions of records” by 1975. Makhene says “’Hopeless Love’ (also not heard here) became the first South African recording to crossover in the then racially-segregated South Africa.”

Taking all this at face value, The Movers must have been a significant band for South Africa: the sales, the volume of releases, the shows they played and the crossover to a white audience add up to an important position. And musically, this is hot stuff. Nonetheless, Vol. 1 1970-1976 frustrates as the original release date for each track is not given. Nor is there anything saying which singles or LPs the tracks came from. Despite these exasperating omissions, dig in. There was a reason they were called The Movers. No one could remain still during these grooves. The case is made.


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