This post is actually of a concert 4 years later. Thomas and the band had not toured Europe for a few years. There had been some changes, particularly in the musical direction of the band. Reggae had been replaced by roots, Zimbabwean roots. Chartwell Dutiro, for example, was playing mbira instead of sax. In 1989 Mapfumo had released songs in which he criticised Mugabe, who two years earlier had abolished the office of prime-minister to become president. A song "Corruption" was even banned in Zimbabwe, and both Mapfumo and his band were targeted by circles around the presidency. The harassments finally led to Mapfumo leaving the country at the end of the 1990s. He now lives in the US.
In my opinion 1989 and 1990 were musically two of the most interesting years in Mapfumo's career. In 1989 he released the album "Varombo Kuvarombo", the
These two albums formed the basis of the repertoire which Thomas used for his European tour of 1990. The songs I would like to share with you in this post are from his concert at the Melkweg in Amsterdam during the World Roots Festival (programme) on June 28. A few weeks later he performed at the African Music Festival in Delft, where I managed to talk to him for a short while in a very crowded dressing room. You can hear a short part of that interview after Aboubacar Siddikh's YouTube version of the Melkweg concert, - which by the way includes photos taken (by AS) during a concert a few years later.
The concert featured some remarkable versions of songs which had been recently released on lp. The concert started with fantastic instrumental versions of the - now - classic "Chitima Nditakure" and "Hwahwa".
You may recognise the guitarist as Ashton "Sugar" Chiweshe, who is the star of those videos on Youtube I mentioned above. I particularly like his version of "Nyoka Musango"; his guitar adds a unique twist to this version. "Moyo Wangu" however falls short of the video version.
Remarkable too is the vocal version of "Chitima Nditakure", which unfortunately breaks off. I don't remember if Thomas saved the lyrics for a later part of the song which was not recorded. In any case, the result is certainly a strange version of the song, almost 'dub' like...
The next song (the first on the B-side of the cassette) is again an instrumental; this time a version of "Chamunorwa". This is followed by a song which I have so far been unable to trace. I have gone through my whole collection of Mukanya masterpieces, but have not been able to find another version of this song. An astonishing minimalistic, purely traditional song, - with Thomas dancing and digging deep to evoke the spirits.... I advise you to listen to this a few times; it will grow on you.
The following "Handina Munyama" (from "Varombo Kuvarombo"/"Corruption") was obviously meant to balance the mood. It does so and levels things out for two new songs, which were - certainly in the Netherlands - only available on record the next year. Both "Dangu-Rangu" and "Svere-Ngoma" were released on Mapfumo's third album on Chimurenga Music: "Chimurenga Master Piece" (TML 103). The songs are based on traditionals, but - as Thomas would stress during the interview in August - with the modern mixed in.
Unfortunately of the last song only the first few seconds have been recorded.
Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited at the World Roots Festival (Melkweg, Amsterdam / June 28, 1990)
As a bonus I am adding this energetic video (clip) of the song "Vanhu Vatema" (1993), recorded from Zimbabwean television a year later. The images are clearly taken from the videos I posted earlier, but the editing of this clip is quite good.
EDIT January 19, 2013: The mystery track (track 9) has been identified as "Shanje". No wonder I couldn't find it, as it has only been released on one of the few albums I do not have ("Chimurenga Varieties" - TML 106), - and 4 years after this concert.
Furthermore track 8 is an instrumental version of "Muchadura", which also was released on "Varombo Kuvarombo"/"Corruption". Both Aboubacar Siddikh and myself were torn between "Chamunorwa" and "Muchadura"; and all things considered it could have been either.....
I have corrected this and have re-uploaded the songs.
(1): correction: the first was "Zimbabwe-Mozambique" (TML 100) in 1988.