The Indestructible Beat of Soweto

This week on Ecléctico we're featuring Crucial Comps—compilation albums, collections of music by various artists, that are essential listens. Each album highlights a musical scene at a moment in time, in another part of the world.

Think of each compilation as a playlist before playlists became ubiquitous; they're great starters for new playlists on your streaming service of choice. Make a playlist of all the albums we're featuring this week and you'll have a perfect Ecléctico playlist. Some of them even have prequels and/or sequels, so I encourage you to dig further if you like what you hear.

Finally, Crucial Comps is for Ecléctico members only, so thank you for being a member.
– Armando


Today on Ecléctico you're listening to The Indestructible Beat of Soweto, a 1985 compilation album of music from and around the township of Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa. This collection was released a year or so before Paul Simon's Graceland, which brought the sounds of South Africa to western pop music. (Both records featured Ladysmith Black Mambazo.) The Indestructible Beat of Soweto, however, revealed a focused document of sound and tradition that was direct, passionate, and resilient—like the people singing and performing the music.


The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
1985 | Compilation of music from South Africa


Go deeper with this excerpt from and a link to a review by Cliff Furnald on RootsWorld:

This has to be one of the seminal series of recordings of what has come to be called "world music." When Trevor Herman collected and released these albums of South African township music from the 1980's on his Earthworks label, it pretty much created the genre with music that demanded a bin of its own in the record store. Here was a rock solid collection of folk, jive and groove that told the world what South Africa already knew, that this music could absolutely rock you to your bones. It introduced us to Mahlathini, the voice of mbaqanga. His groaning style, an outgrowth of a gimmicky style developed by studio producers in the 70s, became a respected and important sound, and with the Magaona Tshole Band and the Mahotella Queens, he became one of South Africa's most unique artists.


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