Two classic South African psychedelic afro-rock albums have been reissued by Matsuli Music. Remastered and cut for vinyl, The Beaters – Harari was released in 1975. After changing their name, Harari went into the studio late in 1976 to record their follow-up, Rufaro / Happiness. In 1976 they were voted South Africa’s top instrumental group and were in high demand at concert venues across the country.
As long out-of-print albums marking the watershed of Harari’s evolution from Soweto soul (as The Beaters) to the afro-centric rock and funk that brought them fame and changed South Africa’s musical landscape forever; both albums reissued with printed inner sleeves.
Comprising former schoolmates guitarist and singer Selby Ntuli, bassist Alec Khaoli, lead guitarist Monty Ndimande and drummer Sipho Mabuse, the group had come a long way from playing American-styled instrumental soul in the late sixties to delivering two Afro-rock masterpieces. Before these two albums the Beaters had been disciples of ‘Soweto Soul’ – an explosion of township bands drawing on American soul and inspired by the assertive image of Stax and Motown’s Black artists.
The Beaters supported Percy Sledge on his 1970 South African tour (and later Timmy Thomas, Brook Benton and Wilson Pickett). But their watershed moment was their three month tour of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) where they were inspired by the strengthening independence struggle and musicians such as Thomas Mapfumo who were turning to African influences. On their return, the neat Nehru jackets that had been the band’s earliest stage wear were replaced by dashikis and Afros.
“what happened was, we were invited to Zimbabwe to do fund raising for South Africa’s struggle against apartheid, so we were playing in a night club called Mutana. And as mentioned we would go on stage and do songs unrehearsed, so Harari was one such song. We just run out of the planned program and we continued to play, and that’s how the song Harari was born” – Bra Alec Khaoli on The Art of Sunday with Brenda Sisane