‘Tis the Season pt. 2 – Juluka; Stand Your Ground
Welcome back to the last weeks of 2019. A stressful year to say the least and it appears that the next one will offer no relief or catharsis any time soon. So here at The Public Records, we’ve decided to try to alleviate some of the tension by taking advantage of the holiday cheer and featuring music that goes out of it’s way to bring people together.
Last week we featured Paul Simon’s Graceland which helped bring the plight of apartheid South Africa into more relatable terms by putting it on everyone’s radio and stereo. We’ll transition smoothly into our next album of the week with another South African band from the apartheid era that was also involved with Simon on the Graceland sessions.
In 1969, a band was formed in South Africa between Sipho Mchunu and Johnny Clegg. Mchunu, who’s black, and Clegg, white, met during a guitar off and became fast friends; they quickly joined forces and created an underground group – Juluka – meaning sweat (and also the name of a bull owned by Mchunu. Juluka, since it was interracial wasn’t allowed to perform publicly in apartheid South Africa. However, street performances and speakeasy type clubs were the only places Juluka could perform. In fact, Clegg was arrested nd beaten several times by police for race mixing and his anti-apartheid lyrics.
After years of building a following through word of mouth, the band finally had enough street credit to garner a single in 1976. After another three years of gigging, they were able to release their first album. Two years after that, they released a second album to rave reviews and were able to make an American and European tour. Juluka performed in traditional Zulu garb and the whole band would perform a traditional war dance on stage.
Despite this success, Juluka was banned from the government approved black radio station Radio Bantu because apparently Clegg was seen as ‘offensive’ to Zulu and at that time the contemporary black culture (seems oddly similar to some ideologies today). They were also initially banned by the South African Musician’s union, but in the mid 80s this ban was lifted and they were able to collect their fees.
Juluka broke up in 1985 when Siphp Mchunu left the music scene to return to his family’s farm in order to take care of them and it. Johnny Clegg formed another group Savuka; however, the two reunited in the late 1990s to record one final album.
Our album of the week, Juluka‘s Stand Your Ground (Warner Bros., 1984) is basically an international release of their 1983 album Work for All but with four new original songs distributed specifically for the European and North American audiences.
Enjoy it and in the spirit of coming together enjoy this album with whatever you want.