Review: The Bees were a product of the late 80s South African music scene. They were an unknown band even in their homeland but its hard to see why given their happy kwaito sound. Now, 30 years later, international diggers are bringing the outfit the acclaim they deserve after the band was rather forgotten because they never had a big crossover hit in their early years. Here two of their best tracks are served up by Dutch label La Casa Tropical. They're lit up with pixelated synths and retro-future vibes that European party people love to get down to. "Mamezala" is the more considered of the two, while "Never Give Up" is a strident and rousing proto-house anthem with plenty of boogie in the bass.
Review: Thanks to increased interest in South African dance music of the late 1980s, original copies of this obscure album from little-known trio The Bees have been changing hands for large sums online. Happily, Johannesburg-based label Afrosynth Records has decided to give it the reissue treatment. It was first released in 1988 and offers a near perfect example of the early Kwaito style blend of "bubblegum" South African synth-pop and contemporaneous U.S house. Highlights include the chanted vocals, sun-bright synth melodies and rubbery bass of "She's A Witch (Tikoloshi)", the glassy-eyed mid-tempo Kwaito richness of "Mjondolo (Bus House)" and "Mathatha", an anthem in waiting rich in country guitar riffs, positive lyrical messages and jangling house piano.
Review: Since it first hit stores in 2004, the Bees' limited-edition single "I Love You" - a heart-aching, expertly realised blue-eyed tribute to the sugary, downtempo end of the late 1950s/early 1960s soul spectrum - has become an in-demand item. Here it is finally given the reissue treatment, with the lauded Isle of Wight-based band's superb vocal version - all impassioned, teary-eyed lead vocals and harmonious, doo-wop style backing vox - once again coming backed by an instrumental mix in which their glistening guitars and authentically fuzzy horns are naturally more prominent in the mix. It's one of the single most impactful and beautiful songs in their catalogue, so you definitely need this in your life.
Review: The ON label was active in South Africa between 1987-1992, an era following the end of the Apartheid regime and defining the new sound of young black South Africa in the early 90s. The late 1980s in the rainbow nation was a time when disco was mutating into what was becoming known as Bubblegum: pop music aimed at the black population of South Africa. Bubblegum was a response to Western styles like disco and the fast spreading house music which originally came from the black ghettos of Chicago and New York. When the second Summer of Love took over the UK in 1988, house, and other electronic music styles conquered South Africa as well. DIY - do it yourself - a motto that had already appeared in the punk movement, lifted the young local scene to the next level.