11/30/2010

Bongi & Nelson - Do You Remember Malcolm





Bongi & Nelson - Do You Remember Malcolm - Editions Styliphone SYL 532 (1971)

The first time I heard this song, was when I it was given it as a track, on the anniversary CD from Stafford Rangers FC soul night summer 2010. Produced my Myriam Makeba & George Butcher in 1971. To those who don't know its a tribute to Malcolm X, who incidentally was born on the same day as me and who's Mother had the same maiden name as me, (no not Nold) how spooky is that. It turns out that John Farrell from Worcester had contributed this track to the CD. It's got a perfect old type 60's Northern soul tempo! John helps run soul nites in Worcester, see bottom of this page for the one I visit.

France only picture single
John tells me he had discovered it as an MP3 on the net. But before I spoke to John I did a bit of research and have made the following assumptions. In 1995 a Civil Rights series of LP's got released in Germany (Black & Proud Vol.1 & 2). Bongi & Nelson is on Volume One as "Miriam & MBongi Makeba ". This release had been doing the rounds on the Internet as MP3 download.

It turns out that Miriam's Daughter (Bongi) wrote the song with pianist Nelson Lumumba Lee (Miriam's Grandson) and was also released by Miriam Makeba three years later as a French single in 1974. That version has less production and came from a live show that year in France (now it's also out again on a double live CD).

Confused already? Well I was especially when the first French single (shown) turned up in the post with the follow-up release "That's The Kind Of Love" as the 'b' side instead of "Do You Remember Malcolm", although clearly printed on sleeve/cover? My guess is the the label Editions Styliphone Conakay had cold feet at the 11th hour and pulled the release for fear of a African backlash during the Civil upheaval in South Africa at that time. Miriam (aka Myriam) has already fled the country for America in the early 1960's with many other singers/musicians for fear of arrest. Miriam then married (of all people) the Black Panther leader Stokelly Carmichael.

Anyway I think that the song only came out originally on an LP of Miriam Makeba's that also contained a couple of Bongi & Nelson Tracks, entitled 'Miriam Makeba & Bongo'. Chances are that all the singles were sabotaged with a wrong 'b' side. If this is not the case then my copy must be a very rare 'pulled' pressing that got missed by the pressing engineers in 1971 & further copies binned.

A similar thing happened about the same time in the UK, with a Tamla-Motown single with a wrong 'b' side that now fetches around £300 with Motown collectors. That's what UK collector Dave Allen tells me, who quietly keeps a stash of these in his achieve! So if your a Civil Rights collector please make me an offer for today's rarity please!

Bongi Makeba died in 1985 aged 35 and her Mother, who received many awards after Nelson Mandela release in 1990, died in 2008.

1 comment:

  1. I believe the Nelson referred to on this single is Nelson Harold Lee who is the father of Bongi's two children; Nelson Lumumba Lee and Zenzi Monique Lee. Miriam Makeba mentioned his name in her biography. Also, Nelson Lumumba Lee was born circa 1967 and therefore would have been to young to play piano on this single.

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