A few months have passed since I posted music by Thomas Mapfumo. There was some discussion about the choruses in "Marehwarehwa", and even suggestions that the singing is off-key. Comments on "Moyo Wangu" focused mostly on guitarist Ashton 'Sugar' Chiweshe, and the reasons Thomas Mapfumo had for sacking him. And in the first part of a series on the partnership between Thomas Mapfumo and the inventor of the mbira style guitar*, Jonah Sithole, you could hear the late guitar master talking about his early career with Thomas.
This is more of an intermediate post, with two 45s. Or to more precise two remarkable maxi-singles. Both feature Thomas Mapfumo with Jonah Sithole.
The first was recorded in London in 1985, and contains three tracks. The track on the A-side is a remix of a track recorded for the album "Chimurenga for Justice", but far more noteworthy are the two tracks on the B-side: versions of "Pidigori" and "Hwahwa", recorded in one take at Capital Radio. I have posted the last track before, but I am sure there is no harm in posting it again...
Both these tracks are kicked off Jonah in his typical understated guitar style, and vocally Thomas is in great shape. But I would like to draw your attention to the conga playing and the handclapping in these tracks. Handclapping is very much a part of traditional Shona music, and the conga is the modern replacement of the traditional ngoma drum. I assume Thomas' brother, Lancelot Mapfumo, is playing the conga, and Thomas is doing the clapping. Both are brilliant.
But on the B-side of the second single, "Guruwe", released in Zimbabwe a few years later (probably in 1989 or 1990) on Thomas's own label and also featuring Jonah on guitar, I suspect Lancelot is doing the handclapping. I have seen him doing it lots of times during concerts, and have watched him several times with great attention, and I have come to the conclusion that the man has taken handclapping to another, higher level. Clapping as an art form....
*and I am quoting both Jonah and Thomas!