The Best Of The SABC Years

by Irene Mawela

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    ★★★★☆ "22 wonderful sides recorded between 1982-88... a range of township styles from lilting jazz-jive to the fat pop beats of mbaqanga and bubblegum. This disc fills an important gap in the story of music's resilient role in township life under apartheid" (Nigel Williamson, Songlines Magazine, May 2019)
    • For the very first time on CD and digital
    • 22 rare transcription recordings from the South African Broadcasting Corporation archives, 1982-1988
    • Fully licensed from the SABC and remastered from surviving LPs in the SABC's Record Library in Johannesburg
    • Worldwide airplay incl. USA, UK, Europe, South Africa and Australia
    • Digital download comes with CD booklet PDF
    Purchasable with gift card

      £10 GBP  or more


  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Deluxe release with 2 x metallic gold & black marbled vinyl, enclosed in 350gsm full colour matte gatefold sleeve. Features extensive liner notes, rare photos and full personnel. Pressed with quality by the experts at Mobineko. One-time run of 200 copies only!

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Best Of The SABC Years via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    shipping out on or around June 18, 2021
    edition of 200 

      £22 GBP or more 


  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    The sealed compact disc issue of this special compilation. Includes 8-page booklet with extensive liner notes, full recording personnel and credits

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Best Of The SABC Years via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 1 day

      £10 GBP or more 


Xikolo 03:29
Guvhukuvhu 03:26
Danny Boy 03:16
Pfunzo 03:50
Athilaiwi 03:34
Hi Mina Mali 03:16
Ri A Humbela 03:16
Vurhongo 03:21
Ri Mu Rabele 03:47
Mutale 03:56
Tshigombela 03:35
Matodzi 03:58


This special collection of recordings, curated from the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s Record Library, features material from an iconic vocalist that has only ever been heard over the airwaves. Between 1982 and 1988, Irene Mawela - a key contributor to the sound of such famous names as the Dark City Sisters, the Sweet Sixteens and the Mahotella Queens - made more than two dozen excellent vocal jive recordings for the SABC Transcription Service. Though broadcast regularly over the years on Phalaphala FM, no transcriptions were ever made commercially available. Now, Umsakazo Records and the SABC are proud to present 22 of Irene's best transcriptions, providing a rare insight into the SABC’s vast archive of recorded material... and a glimpse into a forgotten era of the illustrious career of one of South Africa’s greatest singers.


released January 28, 2019

Compilation production/notes: Nick Lotay
Vinyl transfers and audio restoration: SABC Sound Restoration Unit
All songs composed by Irene Mawela (except tracks 16 and 18 - traditional/re-arranged by Irene Mawela)
All tracks and discographical information provided by the SABC Record Library
Originally recorded for and published by the SABC Transcription Service (see inner sleeve for full recording notes, personnel and further information)

In the absence of master tapes, all of the material featured here has been transferred from surviving 33rpm vinyl records. Although every effort has been made to both preserve the recorded music and eliminate surface noise, some minor distortion may remain.

Special thanks to the following individuals for their kind assistance with this project: Suveena Devkurran, Lucky Monama, Shalini Naidoo, Norton Ramavhoya and William Rapabi

An Umsakazo Production


all rights reserved



Umsakazo Records UK

Welcoming back the joyous sound of South Africa's townships. UK-based record label celebrating the heritage of vintage African jive through reissues, new beats and compilations of out-of-print music

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