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VA - Next Stop...Soweto

The release of The Indestructible Beat of Soweto in 1987 was a watershed moment in the developing interest in so-called “world music”, feeding on the craze for South African music that followed Paul Simon’s epochal Graceland from the previous year. Listening to The Indestructible Beat more than 20 years later, what stands out is how much tastes for slick '80s production values combined with a target audience of baby boomers created a snapshot of an era while only hinting at the beauty of that country’s rich musical legacy.

Fast forward to the present time: the influence of African music is stronger than ever, this time nurtured by the international end of rare-groove hounds; DJs like Madlib and his brother Oh No; hippies, of course; and, perhaps most interestingly, the indie set. This time around, interest has been driven by nearly 10 years of a new approach to tracking global sounds that favours rawer vintage recordings over the sheen of the previous lens which has fallen out of favour with current tastes.

Most of the crate digging lately has been centred around Nigeria, Ghana, and Ethiopia, so Next Stop…Soweto (the first of three volumes!) is a highly welcome return to Johannesburg. Tracks are drawn from the late '60s to the mid-'70s, and relentlessly show off the joyful exuberance so easily recognizable from South African musicians: the rich timbres of their choral singing, rhythm guitars that take giant leaps up the neck (with the distinctively trebly tone favoured by Les Paul), occasional 8/8 beats that will make you bounce uncontrollably, and some of the most infectious horn lines you’re likely to hear all year. With any luck, Volume 3 will feature jazz from the late '50s, but for now you simply cannot go wrong with this opening statement. A must-have!

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