Boomkat Product Review:
First legit reissue of two mbaqanga classics from 1971, including the cut plagiarised in 1981 by Malcolm McLaren and Bow Wow Wow as “Jungle Boy”.
"This 7" spotlights the country’s premier mbaqanga girl group, the Mahotella Queens, and one of the most memorable singles the group ever produced. With its pulsating rhythm, sunny guitar phrases and resonant close harmony, “Umculo Kawupheli” (“The music never ends”) celebrates music as a source of joy and healing. Within a year of its release, the single had surpassed sales of 25,000 units, earning the group yet another gold disc. The tune was included on at least three Queens LPs over the next year and also formed the core of two documentary films about the group.
The reach and influence of “Umculo Kawupheli” spread far beyond its intended destination. In 1981, the song was plagiarised note-for-note by punk rock manager Malcolm McLaren, who replaced the meaningful isiZulu words with soundalike English gibberish to create “Jungle Boy (See Jungle)” for his new wave band Bow Wow Wow. The song’s origins were not acknowledged and all composing royalties went to McLaren and the artists.
After McLaren more flagrantly lifted additional mbaqanga songs for his solo 1983 record Duck Rock, the fledgling Earthworks label brought the plagiarisms to light by licensing 1974’s Umculo Kawupheli compilation for the Western market as Duck Food. Two further releases – the Earthworks compilation The Indestructible Beat of Soweto and Paul Simon’s Graceland – resulted in the first overseas tours by the Queens, ensuring the wider world was able to hear authentic mbaqanga as originally intended, directly from the pioneers of the style.’”