Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Some weeks ago, someone, I think it may have been Steen, mentioned The Bhundu Boys, my first response was 'Have they made it that big as to be international now?'. So I googled 'em; they are not the Bhundu Boys that I know, they're a bunch of white guys from New York, I wonder how they got that name: the original Bhundu Boys are from Harare Zimbabwe.

Last weekend I did something that I know many of you might have enjoyed sharing. All my life I've been obsessive about collecting music related paraphernalia, about 30 years ago I bought a file cabinet that's used by printers and graphic artists, it's 6 drawers high and each drawer is 54" wide, 38" deep and 4" high; it's intended for storing large sheets of paper or matte board. For 30 odd years I've been putting anything and everything I've been involved with in there and I've never opened it up and gone through it all until last weekend. Wow, what a collection, I think I have the initial advertising posters for every Wailers album release and tour, some of them are autographed, just about every reggae related movie poster similarly autographed, handbills, flyers, backstage passes, photographs, many posters for other reggae albums including Toot's Funky Kingston and a couple by Third World. There's the posters from every Reggae Sunsplash in JA throughout the 80's. Then there's all the African stuff including lots of ANC posters plus groups and musicians, plus there's autographed posters by Yevtushenko and Andrew Young, it goes on and on and on.
I'd always had in the back of my mind that I'd frame some of them for decoration, so now I'm at that point with the 'music room' I thought 'I'll take a look, I knew that there was a set of posters from the Herman Leonard 'The Eye of Jazz' collection that included Bird, Dexter, Miles, Billie and Bud Powell amongst others, they're gorgeous B/W prints about 20" by 30", just what I needed, so looking for them is what started this whole affair. So now I've got piles of posters and prints all over the bedroom floor and I'm not sure where to go next, I found the Leonard collection but what the hell do I do with all the rest? There's even Woody Allen's movie posters.

I started off mentioning the Bhundu Boys, I'd forgotten I had that poster, they were headlining an all day event at the Rufaro Stadium in Harare when we were there in the '80's so of course we went. We were treated like royalty, I was invited up on the stage to get better photographs and made a friend of the stage manager who I saw many times later when he visited LA managing touring African groups. So it seems that a re-think of the entire house decoration is in the wind, the hall and stairs are currently devoted to Art Nouveau and the Czech artist Alfons Mucha, that's got to stay but......

Here's a cut by the Bhundu Boys, it's Tamba Wega and it's typical of the music of Zimbabwe.


steenbeck said...

Weren't me goneforeign. (Maybe it was the Budos band? Someone just gave me their album, and I like it, but it's almost TOO good and perfectly fela-esque, if you know what I mean. Don't think I mentioned them either, though.)

Just listening to the Bhundu Boys track now. I love love love that glowy guitar sound. Thanks for posting. Nice poster, too.

Blimpy said...

Someone should have a word with Vampire Weekend, them Bhundu Boys are ripping them off!!

Just kidding, great tune, thanks for posting!

Tatanka Yotanka said...

My goodness what a tragic future awaited the Bhundu Boys. I saw them at the George Robey in Finsbury Park in the late eighties around the time they were on heavy rotation on the Peel show. The article below tells a bit of the story of what happened to them. The house they had in Kensal Rise was on the road I now live on.


Bizzarely (or not),the Kensal Rise days also see them mentioned in the early history of the Stone Roses, lodging in the same guest house.


Tatanka Yotanka said...

And this is what the future held for the stinky old Sir George Robey, pictured in 2005. Haven't been that way for a while, any of the local Gooner's care to give us an update; gastropub or lapdancing emporium?


saneshane said...

Ah... it was me GF
'shed sessions' came in as my favourite album of 2001.
An amazing band.
One of the few members that hasn't died from an AIDS related illness will be at an Africa day at Norwich Arts Centre soon.
Sadly there aren't many left.. such amazing sounds.

(see also Tinariwen from southern Sahara and Konono No1 from the Congo, just my personal favs, not Africa in three groups)

Was in Harare a year and a half ago so picked up more tracks.. Thomas Mapfumo and Oliver Mtukudzi included..
My other halfs brother is married to a Zimbabwean and they are both photographers doing covers for some of the resent musicians.
(It'll be interesting to hear the music if any freedom of speech can be achieved)

ToffeeBoy said...

I've got a couple of Bhundu Boys albums up in the attic awaiting digitisation - this has inspired me to bring them closer to the top of the pile. I too have John Peel to thank for bringing them to my attention.

DarceysDad said...

That does it! I'm starting my savings pot NOW to go see our friends in California in 2010, 'cause I *AM* going to call on you, gf. I hereby nominate & commend you as RR Official Archivist of Special Treasures, and offer a toast to the RROAST with the most!!

Re The Bhundu Boys - I only have the poorly-received Friends On The Road album, because it does at least have Foolish Harp/Waerera on it.

I was introduced to, and blown away by, them playing a most wonderfully languid, flowing version of it - credited as My Foolish Heart: can anyone explain? - on an end-of-year South Bank Show (I think) on the telly. I think I still have the VHS of that somewhere. Mmmm_?

Just gorgeous, it washed over you ... the closest way I can describe how it made me feel is like I was Rael in the pool with The Lamia (Genesis fans will know what I mean!)

There is the slightly spikier studio version of the song here:


goneforeign said...

Tatanka: Thank you for that link, I had no idea, the last I'd heard of them was 20 odd years ago. What an awful tale, when I saw them they were a group of young handsome men enjoying their success and I was so taken with Harare that we seriously discussed retiring there, it was a wonderful city and country and we might have done it under different circumstances, given what's happened since I can only thank whoever/whatever put the idea from my head.
DD, thank you and when you get here we have two spare bedrooms and I'll be your chauffeur for the sights of Sonoma county.
Check Shane's comments and pay attention, definite donds for Tinariwen who I saw a couple of years ago and Thomas Mapfumo who I've seen many times and also Oliver Mtukudzi, all definitely worthy of a listen.

goneforeign said...

D/D: Official archivist might be pushing it a bit, how about honorary Jackdaw?

DarceysDad said...

"Honorary Jackdaw" ? I like it, but I'll NEVER think of a real word acronym with the letters H & J adjacent to each other!!


DaddyPig said...

21 years ago I was a Students' Union President at a rural institution in deepest Bedfordshire. We booked the Bhundu Boys for our Summer Ball, the best choice we could've made. The most energising music yet deeply relaxing at the same time. A lot of African music has the characteristic of the melody and rhythm moving around between all the instruments in a conversational way, so if you're the bass player you don't have a stereotyped steady job to do.

I've hardly listened to any African music for ages and ages, or been to see any bands. I always found it loads better at a gig than on record, even more so than with any other music I like. As I often say on RR, thanks for the friendly reminder !