Mkhululi Ncube/Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Reporters
Christmas has come early for rhumba music lovers after Mxolisi Ndlovu popularly known as Mr Bones and his Garamthata Finest band released a scorcher of an album that will take many to the dance floor.
The eight track album released last week and entitled Vuma Sgebengu, can be best described as a complete album: great vocals, wonderful guitar work, powerful lyrics with a dash of romance and humour.
The album, the fifth for the band, is truly for the dance floors with great balance between vocals and guitars.
Mr Bones is one of the few musicians gifted with a melodious and free flowing voice which allows him to hit all the pitches on the rhumba music scales.
Unlike many up-and-coming musicians in this genre who copy established musicians, Mr Bones or Umfanaka Paraffin is fresh and original.
On the title track Vuma Sgebengu, the musician narrates a story about a man bidding farewell to a life of crime. The man has had enough and wants to reform fearing death that may leave his family in tears and without support.
Mr Bones, who was born in Ntoli, Bulilima District but now based in South Africa, said he has seen the ‘‘young dying young’’ because of a life of crime in his adopted home.
“Many young people in South Africa from Zimbabwe are involved in violent crime. Some have been jailed while others killed and I’m saying that this should stop with the title track,” said Mr Bones.
“Many of my fans are young people who need guidance with life lessons using the language that they understand. I know they’ll want to listen to the album to understand what this is all about.
The album opens with the track Vusumakhelwane, a birthday party song calling people to come to the celebration. The other track Gaxani Amajazi is a cry by a man who finds it hard to get a job as he feels there is some sort of curse in his life. He then asks his parents to find help from traditional healers or the church.
Romance is at the heart of Mr Bones’ music and Sthandwasami No 4 is a great love ballad.
“In composing the Sthandwasami series of songs, I was trying to be different as men from Plumtree are said to be unloving and they beat their wives. I wanted to show that this isn’t true and I’m a romantic man from that area,” said Mr Bones.
“Also on my first album (Uyinkinga umakhwapheni) Sthandwasami No 1 was loved by many women who bought the album and many started listening to rhumba. Thereafter in every album I record I have that song for them.”
The only Kalanga track Puzu Muzila decries a girl of loose morals after she had forgotten her hard upbringing, thus exposing herself to diseases. Women are winners in this album as track seven is dedicated to women’s rights. In the song the musician appeals to men to treat women and children with love and stop physically abusing them.
Mr Bones said the album is testimony that he has come of age in rhumba music circles.
“This album shows that I have matured, I took my time to come up with this masterpiece because last year I did not record,” said Mr Bones.
In the album Mr Bones gave his guitarists more time to express themselves such as bassist Alex ‘16 Gear’ Sibanda whose skills are the common thread all through the album. Unlike in the past when the lead guitar was the mainstay of rhumba music, most musicians have changed to using the bass guitar, but retaining the fast beat that was introduced by the late Ndux Malax.
Mr Bones said plans are in place to promote this latest offering.
“I will be promoting this album in South Africa and Botswana where I have a huge fan base and after that will come home for radio interviews. From December I’ll be holding shows in Zimbabwe as we celebrate the festive season with our fans” said Mr Bones.
He also appealed to the public to buy original music to support musicians so that they are able to earn a living out of their work.
“I really appeal to true music fans to shun piracy and buy music from legal selling points. At the moment my music is available at a flea market outside Entumbane shopping complex in Bulawayo.”