In an earlier post I have expressed my surprise about the lack of information on the www about Johnny Bokelo. There has been no improvement since, and it seems unlikely there will be in the near future.
So we have to rely on our ears for information.
This record is a good as any starting point. Released in Kenya in 1988 it does tell a story about the mechanics of Bokelo and his orchestra. The first track gives an immediate insight into his influences. The song kicks off with a rhythm resembling the 1987 TP OK Jazz song "Tala Merci Bapesaka Na Mbua"; the vocals are definitely influenced by Pepe Kalle. The influence of Franco has been predominant in the whole of his career and, like Franco, Bokelo has moved with the times. When, in the 1980s, Franco incorporated the successful vocal sound of Empire Bakuba's heavyweight star by moving Madilu to the foreground, Bokelo followed...
If you listen carefully you will detect some influences from the east of Africa; most notably in the singing in the second track. Bokelo catered for the considerable following he had in those countries.
This is not Bokelo's best lp, but in my opinion it still manages to beat the majority of the records that have been released since.
Sotho Vocal Jive - Top Hits Vol 2 (1977, Motella)
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