It's an ambient waltz, with shape-shifting tremolo organ chords in a cyclical mantra. Basil Coetzee lays out a saxophone solo of such painful beauty that Drum's jazz critic Joe Thloloe considered his playing to be "better than on the gold disc winner Mannenberg".
For me, it's the series of precise variations in tempo across the nine minutes: cycles of rejuvenation and subtle drama. Timing is everything. A psychedelic rock classic produced in Soweto during the uprising era? This track is off Saitana's solo album Jenakuru. Long out of print, the music of this forgotten troubadour is due for re-release by local filmmaker Laurence Hamburger.
Some called it Afrosynth bubblegum; some called it crossover soul. To an impressionable adolescent who heard them open for a wailing Leo Sayer at Sun City in , it was pure, shivering emotion. When Paradise Road was recorded, Malebo was on maternity leave and persuaded an year-old Brenda Fassie to fill in for her on the album. But not too many better songs. There is only one South African song and this is it. It looks backward from the '80s to the '70s and calls up a downcast solo dance at the disco; it looks forward from the '80s to the '90s and sparks a proto-kwaito block jam.
It sidles west with its side-eyeing synth, but gets down in Langa-town with its black-power brazenness. Mabrr's snarling but vulnerable moue teaches us: we put up with mistreatment from our lovers and go back to them because we need them and they're beautiful.
Martha Fields Music
Like South Africa. A stomach-thumping, smoke-infected dub classic, with a beautifully executed guitar riff, all channelled through the pidgin Afrikaans-English of James Phillips's alter ego - a soutie from Springs. Ja man, "maar dis lekker". The conscription generation may be more partial to "Hou my Vas Korporaal," but there's no better South African song than this, with its still poignantly relevant chorus, which asks the fundamental question of how one lives in this strange place.
It's a Friday night in '87 and, at the smoky, beer-scented Roxy in Melville, the Pioneers are winding up their stonking set. The crowd know what's coming as Jasper Cook points his trombone at the roof and lets go with four notes like steam locomotive breath. Ntemi Piliso's brass section wail in as they shuffle off the stage in a swaying crocodile.
Goodnight, it's time to go home - even though it's not the '50s and there's no last train to Pimville, but there are beatings and teargas on campus, and for many the injustice of those bitter, curfewed nights continues. One of the late apartheid authorities' minor blunders was letting this song through the censorship net, given its obvious refrain from Enoch Sontonga's Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika, then the banned ANC anthem, and allegorical lyrics condemning a paranoid regime. Featuring the great saxophonist Basil Coetzee, Weeping was an unmistakable, resonant call to unity.
Apartheid was newly dead. I started my first year in a white school. In came Ishmael and his two pals, protesting that they were hobos, and asking the elders about their whereabouts during great revolutionary moments like June Cut to a club in it's packed with girls clad just like Boom Shaka in '94, and we dance to Waar Was Jy?
Except we're asking a different question: waar was jy when Skeem was the ish? I was there. I was nine. The question is: waar was JY? Few calls for peace have summoned as much power and mystique as this one. The opening track on Urban Zulu, it lands like a punch to the gut, dictating the pace for an album that would initiate and re-ingratiate many to maskandi music. Supported by three guitars and layered paradiddles, the luminous antiphony jumps straight into a reckless falsetto before diving down and drowning into one of the richest, realest altos music will ever know.
She writes on the song, infusing realms of knowledge and musical divination into her griot-esque vocalese. Anyone doubting its place in the pantheon of South African songs need only have visited Loftus lately.
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AWB-sympathising, khaki-shorts-wearing Bulls fans wildly chant the lyrics with every try. The song's crossover appeal was such that it wouldn't be surprising if PW Botha had a copy of the single stashed beneath copies of Ou Rooi Perd.
It's the only kwaito song that Jabu and Oom Frikkie can shake their respective booties to; an unofficial national anthem. A tune, and a sound, that we never saw coming: an indefinable mish-mash of genres and languages.
Appleseed brought reggae flair, Stoan and Speedy brought rap, and Thandiswa Mazwai brought powerful isiXhosa vocals beyond her years. Soon they were dubbed "The Fugees of SA". Some lazily called them a kwaito band.
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They were entirely their own creation. In the s I didn't take South African rock seriously - until I stumbled upon this: worth of the most beautiful angst I had ever heard: a haunting, radio-friendly unit shifter, purpose-built for lonely nights, break-ups and other assorted life nosedives. It won my ears over, and it still does today. It was a leap forward for SA's electronic music: sophisticated, uncluttered and astonishingly imaginative. The build-up - seemingly performed by a guitar, flute and space alien trio - is momentous but almost subliminally gentle, and before you know it nearly six minutes in you're shaking your body to kwaito bass and mad percussion.
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One expects Laband's music to be melancholy, but this is jubilant, right up to the sinister vocal sample at the end. Splashy Fen is where you catch bands huge in Durban but nowhere else. In '99 we had our brains fried by Jimmy 12 Inch, a berserk posse of shirtless, dreadlocked surfers who had mainlined a speedball of punk, hip-hop and funk. That was just a foretaste. When singer Nic Olsen left to join Matt Wilkinson in Perez, they welded wispy, acoustic verses onto roaring choruses, a soft-loud dynamic best found on the electrifying power-pop of Picture Perfect: the song is exactly what it says on the box.
It unfolds like a prayer, a welcome shift from the wham-bam-thank-you-Sam songs that undress in the first 30 seconds. It's the instrumental spaces that keyboard, eish! The brighter the light, the darker their hue. And like eyebrows, we take them for granted, but were they suddenly missing, the world would be very disturbing indeed. But what of shadows in song? Are shadows always associated with darkness, negativity and mutability? Do they have to inspire fear? Why a shadow of doubt? Do people inevitably become a shadow of their former selves, or fall in someone else's shadow?
Is life really a walking shadow, a poor player who struts and frets upon the stage, or just a plaything of light? Is the very substance of ambition merely the shadow of a dream?
The Shadows ~ Songs List | axuhurajowoj.gq