The Anchors - Soul Upstairs
Cover
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LINER NOTES

 

Soul!

The very word has the whole world on fire. Since the first soul note was blown in 1967 the world at large has come to succumb. It may not be your cup of
tea but, like the blues, soul has come to stay. Come to think of it, soul, like jazz and the blues, has its roots right here in Africa. Africa is soul and soul is Africa!

The Americans, who have come to be regarded as peerless in so far as music - jazz, and the blues - is concerned, are responsible for the present soul
bang. They took the ordinary raw and green drum beats coupled with the mournful wailing of animal horns and the anguished voice and started a kind of music that today has the world tapping its feet.

But it is heart warming now to see that soul is coming back to Africa. You may not believe it but right in Johannesburg, on the fringes of this metropolis, a soul revolution is taking place among the Black people of Soweto and it may not be long before we have our own "Sledges" and "Arethas", "Booker T's" and the "Picketts". Indeed, we now have rough diamonds and before you wink again, Soweto might be riding high on the crest of the soul wave. Like most of the hard-boiled musicians, Johannesburg's black soul giants are, to use a roughly-handled term, "self made". There is no soul music class anywhere here and most of our artists can hardly tell the difference between a semi-breve and a crotchet. But baby, you put these children behind their instruments and you'll know what makes the world go round and round. So now you see, we have plenty of diamonds, even though they are rough.

Take two standard six pupils, one form 1 student, one matric student, one boy who has just left school and two employed men and you've got "The Anchors". A rather rare combination you'll agree. And so will you too when you listen to their rather rare repertoire. And out of sheer curiosity, I asked the leader and founder of the Anchors, 28-year-old vocalist Ezrom Kgomo (he's employed) just what makes his group tick and back came the reply: "We are dedicated to soul. Soul has everything. When you play soul you can't sit down — you move. I prefer soul and we're doing it in such a way that people like it. Like I said, we're dedicated to soul".

Well, these soul deciples have not found things all rosy. Like most soul groups, they have had their "ups-and-downs". Before founding the group, Kgomo was a member of another famed soul group, The Souls from Alexandra Township. But after a split, he started The Anchors in March last year. Although The Anchors are well liked, they have not yet played extensively. They have never, in fact, played outside the Reef.

The group includes Collins Mashigo, 27, on drums who helped Kgomo found the group; Patrick Nkosi, 19, who plays the organ and is a standard six pupil; Anderson Nkosi, 18, on lead guitar who has just left school; Given Sabela, 19, a matric student at Orlando High School who plays bass guitar; Condry Sequbu, a form one student on rythm guitar and 17-year-old Dinah Mbatha, a vocalist. With only two men working, The Anchors have had their steep climb.

"We were rather lucky because my boss at work is quite a kind man. He deposited the first instrument for the group, a rythm guitar, and we had to pay off the installments at R4 per month."
"We later acquired bongo drums and managed to pay off our credit with the paltry sum of R6 per performance at a wedding or R12 per show."
"During Christmas and New Year we hung around the city streets and played at the corners. With a little bit of luck we managed to raise something from these street corner performances."

I asked Kgomo if his group, like most groups, did not wish to one day play abroad. I received an answer I did not expect: "No, we don't want to play overseas. We want the cats overseas to come here and listen to us. We want them to know that there is something brewing in Africa".

Lucas Molete

Recorded March, 1969
(Johannesburg Studios of Herrick Merrill)
Recording Engineer: Bonne Ter Steege
Cover Design by: A. Kotzee
Cover & Liner Photos: Dave Diale
Produced by Ray Nkwe
 

THE ANCHORS
SOUL UPSTAIRS


recorded 1969
issued 1969
City Special
Teal
made in South Africa
produced by Ray Nkwe
published by Laetrec
CYL 1001
matrix CYL 1001A
matrix CYL 1001B
33 rpm
first issue
cover images by Dave Diale
cover design by A. Kotzee
cover printed by Artone Press
source: flatinternational Archive

TRACK LISTING

 

1.1Collin Goes

(Patrick Nkosi)

1.2Soul Upstairs

(Patrick Nkosi)

1.3Pats Blues

(Patrick Nkosi)

1.4Cry My Baby

(Given Sabela, Patrick Nkosi)

1.5Papa Bull

(Patrick Nkosi)

1.6Groovin' Organ

(Patrick Nkosi)

2.7Go-Go Corner

(Nkosi, Mashego, Nkosi)

2.8My Yanky Pal

(Patrick Nkosi)

2.9Anchors Joint

(Nkosi, Sabela, Nkosi)

2.10Black Smith

(Given Sabela)

2.11Tell Me

(Patrick Nkosi, Anderson Nkosi)

2.12The Way That You Love Me

(Given Sabela, Patrick Nkosi)

ARTISTS

 

THE ANCHORS
EZROM KGOMO - vocals
COLLINS MASHEGO - drums
PATRICK NKOSI - organ
ANDERSON NKOSI - lead guitar
GIVEN SABELA - bass
CONDRY ZIQUBU - rhythm guitar
DINAH MBATHA - vocals

NOTES

 

Under the influence of the Memphis Sound of groups like Booker T and the MGs, organ jive swept South Africa in the late 1960s and The Anchors were one of the earliest purveyors of this style of music. This LP appears to be their first.

Soul Upstairs was produced by Ray Nkwe, then the president of the newly formed Jazz Appreciation Society (see JAS Pride label). Nkwe must have played a significant role in promoting this sound in the late 1960s because in the same year he also produced the first album, Soul-A-Go-Go, by another significant soul group, The Beaters (later renamed Harari).

Soul Upstairs was recorded in March 1969 at Herrick Merrill Studios in Johannesburg and issued on the City Special label. The LP appears to be that labels first project unless there is a CYL 1000 out there. Of course this label would soon be famously dominated by another organ driven soul group — The Movers.

According to Max Mojapelo the group was formed by Ezrom Kgomo and Collins Mashego. At various times the band also included Simon 'Bra Jika' Twala on bass, Philip Malela, Pepsi Rapoo on vocals and Herman Fox on lead guitar. Majepelo goes on to say that the group was later joined by Condry Ziqubu, Given Sabela, Dinah Mbatha and brother Lucky Mbatha, Mbokoto Nkosi and Jabu Nkosi, son of the legendary 'Zacks' Nkosi. It is not clear to me whether keyboardist Jabu Nkosi is the same as Patrick Nkosi who plays the organ on this recording or which version of the group is the original lineup.

Nevertheless, the Anchors split in the early 1970s with Simon Twala, Philip Malela and Herman Fox going on to form the Flaming Souls, another famed soul group of the period. Condry Ziqubu would soon replace Fox in that group on lead guitar after his untimely death by stabbing. Ziqubu then moved on to the group Harari in 1980. Both Dinah Mbatha and Philip Malela migrated to the Movers. Collins Mashego after becoming an MC would later join the SABC. Mojapelo also mentions that he produced the historic funeral of the late Simon Mahlathini Nkabinde. Given Sabela and Jabu Nkosi would also record with 'Zacks' Nkosi on his classic 1976 LP Our Kind of Jazz (not the 1964 compilation of 78s).

Last Time, a single (not on this LP) by the group, is featured on the excellent Next Stop Soweto Vol. 2 (2010) album, one of the best compilations in recent years.