On The Radio 2017/07/10

A week after my previous show, I was back co-presenting another Wrong Rock Show with Botha on Bush Radio.

Here’s the show, followed by a track list of my contributions, and videos for some of the songs I could find reasonable or interesting videos for:

Night After Night [acoustic version] - The Sounds [Dying To Say This To You ‘06]
Rain Rain Rain - Roxy Music [Flesh + Blood ‘80]

Crash - Asian Dub Foundation [Community Music ‘00]
Our Leaders Have All Gone Underground - Kalahari Surfers [taken from The Eighties Volume 2. The original version appears as ‘Underground’ on the album Sleep Armed from ‘88] Find the whole Sleep Armed album here
Chom’Emdaka - Thandiswa [Ibokwe ‘09]
Sabotage - Beastie Boys [taken from Solid Gold Hits ‘05]

Bruce Bleed - Springbok Nude Girls [Neanderthal 1 ‘95]
Block - Machine Head [Burn My Eyes ‘94]

Unleash - Soulfly [Conquer ‘08] They’ve prohibited embedding, so you can find the official video here
Unchained - Van Halen [Fair Warning ‘81]

Ghost Called Loneliness - Urban Dance Squad [Artantica ‘00]
Wake Up - Rage Against The Machine [Rage Against The Machine ‘92]

Song Dance - Pavlov’s Dog [Pampered Menial ‘74]

Here’s a link to all the shows I’ve done:

On The Radio 2017/07/03

I joined Botha Kruger on The Wrong Rock Show for the first time to co-host my first show in just over a year.

Here’s the show, with the complete track list and some videos of my contributions below:

Darkness Sunday- Jungles!!!
Sun [Leftfield mix] - John Lyndon [Psycho’s Path ‘97]
Boom Box - Blueprint [taken from Rhyme Sayers 2005 Label sampler ‘07]
Department S - G//Z/R [Black Science ‘97]
Letchi Dans L’espace - Golgot VR
Glisten - Slavedriver
Broken Tamagotchi - Nosferatu D2
Hands All Over - Soundgarden [Louder Than Love ‘90]

Hands Of Reason - Paradise Lost [Draconian Times ‘95]
Rain - The Cult [Love ‘85]

Never Enough [Big mix] - The Cure
Young Ones - The Frown
A Drug Against War - KMFDM
Shore’s End (Chapter One) - Asylum Kids [Solid Principles ‘82]
Banshee - Coal [The Ruse ‘15]
Frustrated - Drain [Encounter ‘96]
Wat’s In ‘n Naam - Tas Vol Nardus
Vendetta - Slipknot [All Hope Is Gone ‘08]
Thetawaves - System Of A Down [Steal This Album ‘02]
Hooks & Splinters - Otep [House Of Secrets ‘04]
Celebrate The Harvest - Make-Overs
Evil Child - Blind Butcher
Cover Me - Part Chimp
Mystery - BLK JKS
My Baby - Soo Coo?
Memories Of The Grove - Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster [II ‘07]
Shoot You In The Back - Motörhead [Ace Of Spades ‘81]

Message Beneath Contempt - Raised Fist [Dedication ‘02]


Here’s a link to all the shows I’ve done:

How Did We Get Here?

Having been a collector of music since I was about 13, and having spent 23 years in the music industry, issues around music and the business of music remain close to my heart. The industry has gone through various phases over the years, the last of which seems to have included ‘out’ as an important part of the phase.

But what happened? Are there no albums ‘out there’ that are worth owning? Do people really not have expendable income? Have the recessions hit everybody that badly? Or did the music industry shoot itself in the foot? And then in the other foot? Headshot?

I know I’m not the only one with a cash-flow problem. Since being retrenched in 2012, I haven’t had much income. Because of that I haven’t really been looking too closely, but I can’t seem to convince myself that there is no music being created and being made available for sale that is worth owning. (Now is probably a good time to note the subtle difference between ‘owning’ and ‘having’.)

I have a list of 548 albums that I still need to add to my collection, and that list keeps getting longer.

Through all my years in music retail I was never bored. Ever. Hundreds of new releases were available to me every month, and not every release makes it to every corner of the world. You can imagine that if Coal released a CD in Cape Town, you may not be able access it in a record store in Tulsa immediately, if ever - or at all. If a group of Tuvan throat-singers had a smash hit in Siberia – you probably won’t find their music for sale in Calvinia. When Freshlyground started making a name for themselves, we had countless requests for their CD in Cape Town, but there were no channels facilitating our access to their stock. Not even the fact that one of their members had previously worked at our shop helped. It just doesn’t work that way. Many more releases happened world-wide than we had (relatively easy) access to, and we didn’t buy everything that was available to us. Because of our diverse market, we did buy a fair amount. Not everything we bought and stocked was good, but it was popular, in some way relevant – or really good. I can’t seem to convince myself that the ratio of creativity – and of creation – has changed to the point that we are all doomed as active music consumers.

There’s a difference between music as a business, and music as creative expression. These two are almost worlds apart, but in the context of ‘the music business’, they need to work together. Stock the top sellers to get the business, and stock the niche-market product to keep the business. Specialist product is what forms the basic character of a business. It’s what makes you cool. It makes you more cool to the people who buy Top 20 product than it makes you to the specialists, who are just happy that you can service their music needs. It isn’t like they don’t think you’re cool. Being cool is just less relevant to them than you knowing what they want, and being able to have a reasonably intelligent interaction around it. I’m going to try to put this in one sentence: A successful music business is built by the Top 20 customers on the back of the coolness generated by the specialists. (You also need good customer service and knowledgeable staff, but I won’t get into that now.)
Ever heard someone say “I’m gonna hang out at CNA and check out their music?” You did?(*) Did make you wanna go too?

The trouble started when record companies decided buy in to something that was perceived as being a threat to their business. Go figure…

When the music industry embraced downloading – it wasn’t a well considered idea. Downloads, or mp3s, essentially, are nothing. There’s not an experience beyond hearing something, and this limits its value. Besides that, those involved in offering downloads had significantly more experience in the game than the record companies did by this time. They also had no vested interest in the wellbeing of the record companies or the (legitimate) music industry as a whole.

I suspect that record companies were also seduced by the fact that mp3s could be advantageous in the corporate ‘money for nothing’ framework. Essentially offering less product for not much less money. If consumers wanted anything additional, like a disc to burn the music on to, a sleeve or artwork and a jewel case – they’d have to do it at their own expense.

Music, and the presentation of music, will always be multi-dimensional. Music calls for interaction between a performer and their audience. The presentation of an album in a sleeve (or with a booklet), and as something you can hold in your hand – with artwork, photographs of the artist and stuff they think is cool, lyrics, technical information, etc – puts it into a context. That context becomes a unifying, shared space. Why would you go to a music concert if it wasn’t for the added value and poly-ness of it? If you think downloading mp3s is cool, you may as well stay in and look at pictures of the band on your monitor, or just stare blankly into space. Drinking at home is cheaper anyway…

“Hey, you wanna come to my place and check out my mp3s?”

The industry lost focus of the gains it had made during the booming CD years. That gain was the selling of something cool, and selling it in a cool format. CDs are much easier to deal with than vinyl. They’re physically smaller, so they’re easier to store and transport. They’re also capable of containing more content than LPs, providing extra value (and no – the difference in sound quality isn’t relevant on a day-to-day consumption basis). Goodness knows where I’d have to keep my records if I only collected vinyl. Look, I’d have made a plan, but just to make the point – they would have been everywhere! Now my music collection (sadly) only takes up three quarters of a wall in my lounge.

That’s the one thing.

Piracy has long been an issue for the music industry. I was once told (by a good friend, nogal) that “because she’s not that great – it’s unfair that Lady Gaga makes so much money while I still only have a crappy job, so it’s o.k. to illegally download her music”. Hungry people might ‘steal’ food. Music lovers? ‘Lovers’ is probably being a bit generous, but yes – they will always steal music. Be it by copying from a friend, downloading illegal copies off the internet or by whatever other means are at their disposal. To me this has always meant that: 1. you don’t really care for the artist, and 2. the masses tap into, and do, what is perceived to be cool. “I have that song(…. what’s its name again?)” becomes more important than “I bought that (debut) album (by Dire Straits because the production and playing on it is great, and you can either sit down and listen to it or put it on as background music, and I really like it – especially ‘In The Gallery’ and ‘Setting Me Up’)”.

In The Gallery’ by Dire Straits:

Setting Me Up’ by Dire Straits:

My resistance to mp3s etc is more than the claimed culture or ‘moving with the times’ issue. There’s a line to draw in what may be perceived as progress. Forgoing the physical aspect, to me, is it. In terms of the business – you minimize the value for the consumer. As a lifestyle issue – you effectively remove music from your space. I think someone was trying to impress me once by telling me they have 22 000 songs on their computer. I’m not sure that my lack of enthusiasm was noted. Collecting 22 000 mp3s is trivial, and when done illegally with the justification that you “once owned the album and refuse to pay for the same thing more than once”, it doesn’t fly with me either. It’s lame. It shows no commitment or appreciation, and definitely no support for the artist. (It also shows me that you can’t look after your stuff properly, but that’s not important right now.) All it does is benefit a collection of ‘pay-for-clicks’ scavengers, and maybe impress someone who is equally uninvolved. It’s the nail in the coffin, so to speak…

So, not only did corporatism choke the product, it was killing the medium. Double whammy!

The music industry (to a significantly huge extent) neglected to support artists by failing to ensure that the product they were issuing was valuable to own and could be promoted and marketed effectively as such. CDs were promoted as a valuable product – therefore boosting the industry significantly, but greed took over, leaving nothing of significant value to promote, and hardly anyone even trying. How excited can you really get about an mp3? Less is actually less.

“Gotta love the smell of a new mp3…”

Inertia’ by Coal:

Find Coal here and here

Doo Be Doo’ by Freshlyground:

Find Freshlyground here

In The Gallery’ and ‘Setting Me Up’ are on Dire Straits’ self-titled debut album released in 1978.

(*) Was it Nazeem?!

Pink Floyd - The Final Cut [1983]

Pink Floyd’s Final Cut was released at a time when no-one really knew what was happening with the band. We were still riding the wave from The Wall and stuck in the lingering rip current of Wish You Were, the meanderings of Animals, and the magic from Dark Side Of The Moon. We where euphoric, but members of the band were barely speaking to each other.

That whole fascination with The Wall here was a little weird. Everyone was going “We don’t need no thought control”, but not many listeners seemed to become noticeably more socially aware. Kind-of like a pocket revolution, if you will. It’s small, and no-one will ever see it.

But it was four years since Pink Floyd’s last album and records had to be made. Roger Waters was the only one with ideas. David Gilmour had lost interest and wasn’t writing, Nick Mason had become more involved in creating sound-effects than drumming, and Rick Wright had had enough, upped and left – thus leaving Pink Floyd as a somewhat troubled trio.

The problem was that Waters’ ideas where still mostly leftovers from The Wall. His preoccupation with World War 2-related hardships, the death of his father in that war, and the effect it had on him since childhood, had been made clear to the point of almost being exhaustive. Because it was such a personal issue, the effect would have been lost on a follow-up – especially to one of the most popular and controversial albums ever to have been made up to that point.

Then, out of the blue, the last person on earth you’d expect to be of any use stepped up and saved the day.

Margaret Thatcher started a war!

The political situation in England with a draconian Thatcher at the helm, and her sending the troops half-way around the world in order to regain control over the tiny Falklands Islands from Argentina in 1982 in particular, provided sufficient irritation and impetus for Roger Waters to re-write most of the songs he had offered for the follow-up to The Wall. Because no one was talking, Waters had been writing songs without any involvement from the other members of the group, so didn’t have to be cautious or compromise. David Gilmour could focus on what he did best – playing guitar. Nick Mason’s preoccupation with sound effects and new technology would come into excellent effect in providing an extending soundscape for the songs. Sadly, the absence of Rick Wright would allow for open, more spacious music.

Somehow, all that was wrong with the band at that point would contribute to a refreshing creative shift. One that would effect a(nother) partial re-invention of the band – both musically and as newly-relevant social commentators – acutely aware of what was happening on England’s political landscape. Pink Floyd could now provide fresh commentary on current issues instead of still dragging WW2 around with them.

What we really ended up with was Roger Waters featuring an array of brilliant session musicians, and two other guys from Pink Floyd. From a Pink Floyd point of view this was ridiculous, but looking at it objectively, this was not such a bad thing.

One Of A Few’ by Pink Floyd [The Final Cut]:

The Final Cut is an album of superbly crafted stories and brilliant musicianship. The lyrics are perfectly supported by the music and an almost tangible soundscape that flows through the whole album – linking the songs as a continuing story.

In dealing with contemporary issues in such a fresh way, Waters’ masterful story-telling and vulnerable, slightly awkward vocals remind me a bit of Syd Barrett’s stories, though very different in subject matter. The Final Cut would be the last Pink Floyd album to feature Roger Waters, making the link back to Barrett quite interesting. A full circle, almost…

You should probably listen to this album again.

Not Now John’ by Pink Floyd [The Final Cut]:

When Tigers Broke Free’ by Pink Floyd [as used in the film The Wall]:

The initial exclusion of ‘When Tigers Broke Free’ from The Final Cut had seemed strange to me, and I always felt that something was missing. The 2004 CD re-issue of the album eventually included this song as an integrated part of the track-listing. It had only been available as a single and in the film The Wall in 1982, as a re-issued promotional CD single in 1990, and in a slightly different mix on the Echoes collection from 1991 before. Eventually, after 20 years, The Final Cut was completed.

“…would Maggie be pleased?”

Pink Floyd - The Final Cut [1983]
Margaret Thatcher

(Images used for illustrative purposes and without express permission. If you’d like to object to their use, or give me permission for their use - please let me know.)

A Short Journey

What comes to mind when you think of Uzbekistan?


Thought so… Try again.

Maybe Ewan McGregor? Did they go there in ‘Long Way ‘Round’?

Nah, that was Kazakhstan.

You were correct in guessing that it’s somewhere in Central Asia. But more accurately, it’s tucked in between Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan – where Ewan and Charlie went. Look for it on Google Maps. It’s North of India.

Since I heard The Drummers of Burundi in 1992, and Papa Wemba’s album Emotion in 1995 (by which time I had already developed an admiration for the music of Peter Gabriel – specifically through Peter Gabriel 4 and the soundtrack to Birdy), releases on the Real World Records label started getting under my skin. Real world music was being presented – and eventually being recorded – with proper attention to detail. Most of the earlier / other recordings seemed to leave much to the imagination. The structure(s) of the performed music, often with significant aural contrasts between power (usually percussive) and subtlety, never seemed to translate accurately. I first became aware of this problem during my first trip to Swaziland where I saw and heard – for the first time – a live performance of traditional Swazi music.

I’d gone to Swaziland to be out of South Africa on the date I was supposed to report for compulsory military service – thus legally avoiding having to do so. It was beautiful, and scary.

A little taste of the Drummers Of Burundi:

Epelo’ by Papa Wemba:

Besides the relatively well developed South African ‘traditional’ music industry – mostly due to the efforts of the Gallo Record Company who had been recording artist like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and others – recordings of ‘non-western’, ‘traditional’ music I’d heard always sounded like cataloguing exercises that vaguely reproduced performances. One microphone and one take. Much like the difference between a selfie and an Annie Leibovitz portrait, with the exception of the amount of takes for each. The spirit and energy of the music was absent. It was not inspiring, but unlike with selfies – I’d always been intrigued.

Umuntu Ngumuntu’ by Mahlathini and The Mahotella Queens:

Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records and the WOMAD movement was changing the way we were exposed to styles of music that we weren’t generally accustomed to – traditional / folk music from countries we’d glanced over while studying geography at school. My intrigue was being rewarded.

In 2003 I came across what has since become one of my favourite Real World releases. Sevara Nazarkhan is a singer from Uzbekistan – that place in Central Asia where Ewan and Charlie didn’t go. Sevara sings, and also plays a doutar. A doutar (or dutar) is a guitar-like instrument that comes in various forms and originates from Central Asia. The album, Yol Bolsin (translated as ‘Where Are You Headed’ or ‘Where Are You Going’), was her first Real World Records release. Of course – as it should be – the cover is rather striking. All red-ish orange-ish, with an image of a woman (the artist) in a long red dress. Not so easy to describe accurately – so have a look at the images below.

What I found inside was even better. Warm and delicate vocals flowing through sparse layers of sound: a handful of traditional instrumentalists providing accents within a space created by subtle electronics, elegantly produced by Hector Zazou – a name you may have heard through his work with Mark Isham or Ryuichi Sakamoto. Warm, earthy vocals, sparse instrumentation and delicate electronics. The kind of music that transports you to another world.

Sevara’s ability to control her voice and pace her delivery is very powerful. On her next Real World release in 2007, Sen (translated as ‘You’), her voice comes to life even more. However, the electronic backing – this time by Bruno Ellingham (who had worked with artists like Joi and Moby) and Victor Sologub – somewhat lacks the sophistication of the previous release, and tends to overpower the sensitive acoustic instruments. Fortunately it doesn’t detract from the overall package too much – but it is noticeable that we could have been heading for an appearance on the next Buddha-Bar compilation. Some people might think that’s cool. I didn’t. I wrote to her and noted my concern. In reply she asked if I knew about the follow-up album which had (then) recently been released independently. I hadn’t, and at the end of a conversation she very kindly sent me a copy.

Bar her kindness, this album would surely be a test of Sevara’s musical integrity, and in which direction she may have been coaxed. The album is the 2011 release, Tortadur (translated as ‘It Attracts’).

You know when you see those documentaries on television about some desolate, godforsaken place in Eurasia, and there’s people singing in high-pitched voices, accompanied by what seems like a single-string guitar that goes pling-pling-pling (now identified as the doutar) and it’s interesting while it lasts but it’s not like you’re going to bother to check the credits at the end of the program to see who it was – if you even remember it? You know what I mean? That stuff they dug out of library? Of course you know!

This is not it!

I was transfixed.

The bells and whistles had been set aside for very simple accompaniment of almost nothing on traditional instruments, with Sevara’s incredible vocal control and pacing keeping a tight reign over proceedings. The slow, brooding songs can become a bit heavy-going, and if you’re not committed to letting the music lead the way – you’ll probably end up only being able to process a couple of songs at a time. If you free your ears you might not be able to get this album out of your player. Tortadur doesn’t take you to another world. It gives you a sense of peace that makes you feel like you’ve always been there.

Sevara has released two more albums since then which, unfortunately, I haven’t heard yet. She also had baby girl in May 2016.

Her official web-site doesn’t seem to be maintained regularly, but has links to her Facebook page and the Real World Records store, which I can’t link you to directly from here…

Yol Bolsin [2003]
Yol Bolsin [2003]

Sen [2007]
Sen [2007]

Tortadur [2011]
Tortadur [2011]

Sevara Nazarkhan
Sevara Nazarkhan

(Images used for illustrative purposes and without express permission. If you’d like to object to their use, or give me permission for their use - please let me know.)

I put these videos down here instead of up there because they didn’t really seem to do the music justice. Have a look (or a listen) anyway…

Adolt Tanovari’ by Sevara Nazarkhan [Yol Bolsin]:

Kuyoshga’ by Sevara Nazarkhan [Sen]:

Qargalar’ by Sevara Nazarkhan [Tortadur]:

Black Sabbath – Cross Purposes [1994]

Since Ozzy left, Black Sabbath has undergone so many personnel and stylistic re-alignments that much of the music produced since has only caught me on the rebound.

We all know that Black Sabbath is Ozzy, Tony, Geezer and Bill… and then Ronnie, and Vinnie, then Ian, then Glenn, Dave, Eric and Tony. Then Cozy and so on. However, Tony Iommi has been the only constant member of the group. In a way we should be grateful for Iommi’s willingness (and ability) to keep the Black Sabbath brand going, and through that – for some reason – we don’t readily remember all the versions of the band. It’s usually just the war between Ozzy and Ronnie.

Both Born Again from 1983 and Seventh Star from 1986 were almost released under Iommi’s own name, but – probably fortunately – it was decided that releasing them as Black Sabbath albums was better for business. By the time Seventh Star was released – Tony Iommi was the only original Black Sabbath member left in the band, so its release as a Black Sabbath album is even more significant in terms of ‘keeping the name alive’. In fact – it was released as ‘Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi’. It’s a little absurd, really, but anyway…

In 1994, Black Sabbath was a powerful melodic rock band. And a good one at that. Cross Purposes is one of those albums that may have eluded Black Sabbath fans and other rockers due to all the band’s re-alignments. You need to be able to look at much of the post-’83 Black Sabbath from a non-Black Sabbath viewpoint. There’s no Ozzy, and only a little Geezer, Bill and Ronnie. And no Ian. For Cross Purposes, we almost have a collective. And that’s alright. Remember – we’re not thinking Black Sabbath; we’re thinking a group of rock dudes with Tony Iommi on guitar. That’s pretty cool.

The album takes no time to get the tone set. ‘I Witness’ rocks pretty hard from the word go. With a solid beat, fluid rhythm, powerful soaring vocals and blistering guitar antics. Iommi’s playing is menacing. ‘Cross of Thorns’ and ‘Virtual Death’ remind us a bit of Ronnie with its medium tempo plod with wailing vocals. ‘Psychophobia’ could have come from the Born Again era. The vocals on ‘Evil Eye’ get a little bluesy – but the slamming plod and creeping bass-work keep it tidy. Geezer Butler had made it back to the line-up at this point, and if you have any idea – you’ll know how Geezer can fill a space.

Co-producer Leif Mases’ previous engineering credits list an interesting array of artists including Ian Gillan, Jeff Beck, some random glam rockers, a Swedish artists with a complicated name, and Frida (from ABBA)! Don’t laugh! That’s not important right now. What is important is that he was also involved in engineering Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door and Coda. Yeah! Actually the other stuff is important because it should give you an idea of the thoroughness of his work, and in turn, this production. The sound is full, well constructed and nicely detailed. So Leif was a good choice.

As a handful of bands did in the Nineties – there’s the seemingly obligatory nod to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ that appears as a little part of the body of ‘Cardinal Sin’, but all is good. No funny business like with Kingdom Come…

There are no apparent weak points here. This is a solid heavy rocking album, but it is quite understandable if you missed it. I did. If you know Eternal Idol, or are coincidentally lucky enough to be familiar with Jake E. Lee’s band Badlands’ first album – this fits more or less into the same bracket.

Worth three packets of cigarettes and a reasonable bottle of vodka. Lekker.

Black Sabbath – Cross Purposes [1994]
Black Sabbath – Cross Purposes [1994]

Black Sabbath in 1994
Black Sabbath in 1994

(Images used for illustrative purposes and without express permission. If you’d like to object to their use, or give permission for their use - please let me know.)

Thin Lizzy – Thunder And Lightning [1983]

It was early in the Eighties, and Thin Lizzy had edged slightly beyond the dark-ish romanticism which characterised much of Phil Lynott’s lyrics. They’d opted for a harder sound – veering decisively toward Heavy Metal. It would have been interesting to see how this would have unfolded, but due to the various outside interests of various band members, Thin Lizzy was falling apart and finally dissolved by the end of 1983. As a significant creative force in the band, Lynott’s unfortunate death in January 1986 properly laid that option to rest.

The Thunder and Lightning album contains some really excellent songs. Unfortunately not much attention seems to have been paid to the running order of the tracks, so the album lacks cohesiveness and direction. I’ve tried to improve this a little, but it wasn’t as successful as my rearranging of the running order of Metallica’s Black Album. Fortunately, once the music starts, it knocks you right to the back of the room – giving you sufficient space to deal with this oversight. Just be sure to turn up the volume – and hold on!

The title track leaves no doubt regarding the direction the band was heading. Musically powerful and heavy everything, with a storyline in the same streetwise ilk as ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ from 1975’s Jailbreak album. Saturday nights, fighting and really just being tough testosterone-ridden dudes. Nothing too poetic. A musically simpler attack follows with ‘This Is The One’ - a brilliant relentless clockwork grind that sadly has to end. Keyboardist Darren Wharton, who had featured on the two preceding albums, co-wrote ‘The Sun Goes Down’ which slows the pace down considerably, but without slowing down the intent. I remember this song getting some airplay around the time of the album’s release.

Thin Lizzy’s characteristic romantic story-telling undercurrent remains present, and although a shift had started with ‘Angel of Death’ and ‘Hollywood (Down on Your Luck)’ from 1981’s Renegade, the overriding heavy tone of this album had only been as in-your-face on occasion in previous studio albums – most noticeably with the title track of Bad Reputation from 1977, ‘Chinatown’ from 1980 - and on the live album Live And Dangerous from 1978. The drumming of Brian Downey features more prominently in all these recordings. On this album Downey also co-wrote the title track and ‘Some Day She’s Going To Hit Back’. The heaviness may have been an attempt to both deal with the then-fading Punk scene with whom the band’s rebellious nature had found some favour, and to stay current in a growing pool of rising Heavy Metal artists, some of whom would have been influenced by Thin Lizzy’s tough, streetwise vibe.

‘The Holy War’ has some commentary on religion. It starts off with a slappy bass line that could misguide you into thinking we’ve entered the Funk Age. Lynott’s ominous vocal and those lead-guitar breaks from new guitarist John Sykes will soon make it clear that we haven’t. It remains hard to place this in a box, especially because this album is already a partial re-invention of Thin Lizzy’s unconventional hard rock style. Sykes also co-wrote ‘Cold Sweat’ - a menacing Motörhead-like rocker.

If you’re more familiar with songs like ‘Still in Love With You’ [Nightlife 1974] or even their version of ‘Whisky In The Jar’, this heavy onslaught may seem out of character, but it actually suits Thin Lizzy well. Considering ‘Out in the Fields’ - a song recorded two years later by Lynott and previously intermittent Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore, and the single’s B-Side ‘Military Man’, it is a credible progression for the band. Again, I wonder how things would have been if Lynott hadn’t died…

The rest of the album continues in a more typical Thin Lizzy mode which, in comparison to the heavier stuff, almost seems whimsical. This is still Thin Lizzy, though, and the songs are great. For some reason, it always makes me want to listen to their 1971 self-titled debut album, which, almost absurdly, I haven’t managed to get into my collection. Yet….

Musha ring dumma do dumma da.

Thin Lizzy - Thunder And Lightning [1983]
Thin Lizzy - Thunder And Lightning [1983]

Thin Lizzy
Thin Lizzy

(Images used for illustrative purposes and without express permission. If you’d like to object to their use, or give permission for their use - please let me know.)

On The Radio 2015/10/19

Lekker tunes for you…

On The Radio 2015/05/25

More Radio for your pleasure…

On The Radio 2014/11/24

I haven’t been here for a while.

My time is spent trying to generate much needed (Photography-related or other) work, but every now and then I co-host a radio show called The Wrong Rock Show, on Bush Radio - a community radio station based in Cape Town.

Here is a link to what I did the last time:

End Of The Year List 2012

This is the time of the year when all the Best of..[insert year here] lists go out.

Seeing that I’ve been slightly ‘out of the loop’ and without a viable income since February, I thought I’d give you a list of 10 Noteworthy Albums Recently Added To My Collection. It delves back into acquisitions from 2011 [and some from 2012], and releases from way back.

Here goes:

1. Robert Plant – Shaken ‘n’ Stirred.

This is an often forgotten album from 1985. Like most artist, Plant was in his Electro Eighties phase. Despite this, the album contains some of my favourite solo-Robert Plant songs:

Recommended Songs: ‘Sixes and Sevens’, ‘Little By Little’, ‘Too Loud’

2. Sevara Nazarkhan – Tortadur

Sevara’s third semi-mainstream release from 2011 is simply a mind-pacifyingly beautiful work. Stripped down to her earthy vocals and sparse instrumentation, she succeeded in avoiding the seduction of Buddha-Bar-ism.

Recommended Songs: All (And if you haven’t yet – also get Yol Bolsin from 2003, and Sen from 2007.)

3. The Dresden Dolls – Yes, Virginia!

The Dresden Dolls are a Piano, Vocals and Percussion duo. This album is from 2006. Topics revolve mostly around sex and some form of debauchery. Amanda Palmer on vocals and piano and Brian Viglione on percussion. Lene Lovich would be proud.

Recommended Songs: ‘Sex Changes’, ‘My Alcoholic Friends’

4. David Kramer – Bakgat!

Most of these songs where performed in my parents’ lounge one evening some time before this album was released in 1980. This album makes David of the true masters of South African Folk music.

Recommended Songs: ‘Is Jy Bang?’, ‘Tjoepstil’

5. Tumi And The Volume – Pick A Dream

Tumi is another great storyteller / commentator. His poetry has balls and if you can’t hear it, you can still dig the beats. This album is from 2010.

Recommended Songs: ‘La Tête Savante’, ‘Number Three’, ‘Moving Picture Frames’, ‘Through My Sunroof’

6. Flevans – Unfabulous

The opening track on this 2007 album should have you sold. An as solid and funky beat as you’ll ever get.

Recommended Song: ‘The Greeting Song’

7. Flevans – 27 Devils

While you’re at it, this album from 2009 is a bit more balanced and has slightly more depth than Unfabulous. It’s not that it is all that much better - it’s just slightly different.

Recommended Songs: ‘Hold On’, ‘Pretty From A Distance’, ‘Flicker’

8. The Clash – London Calling

Don’t laugh. It took me long enough to get this 1979 album. I’m sure you heard enough about it by now.

Recommended Songs: ‘London Calling’, ‘Rudie Can’t Wait’, ‘Spanish Bombs’, ‘The Guns Of Brixton’

9. Pat Travers – Black Pearl

Going all the way back to 1982, this album is slightly out of place for the usually Bluesy Pat Travers. If you like your Rock straight up and solid, you should hunt this one down.

Recommended Songs: ‘Rather See You Dead’, ‘Who’ll Take The Fall’, ‘Misty Morning’, ‘Rockin’

10. David Bowie – Scary Monsters…and Super Creeps

I owned this 1980 release on CD a long time ago and I have had the vinyl for many years, but I had to replace the CD after it got stolen a couple of years ago. This is my favourite David Bowie album.

Recommended Songs: ‘Up The Hill Backwards’, ‘Scary Monsters…And Super Creeps’, ‘Ashes To Ashes’, ‘Fashion’

As I always say, when the music is good, it’s always good.


Valiant Swart - Kopskoot [1997]

I sometimes wonder about how well Valiant Swart could be received in a non-Afrikaans speaking, and more specifically – a non-South African environment. On an intellectual front, I think he is too often misinterpreted or lost between the likes of Koos Kombuis and Ralph Rabie [Johannes Kerkorrel], both who have achieved somewhat iconic status as musical / poetic masters. I think that it is quite tragic that he hasn’t got quite the same status – but it’s probably a blessing in disguise. Although he has gained huge popularity, Valiant has managed to keep his feet on the ground and has continued to write songs that are real. Not confused poetry or polished whateverisms. Thankfully, his skills have remained where it mattered.

Valiant had been hard at work for many years by 1997. Performing at probably every opportunity given – and taken. Two albums where released during that year. Together they covered much of what the Valiant Swart Band had entrenched as performance repertoire by this time. The second album is ‘Kopskoot’. It covers what was at that time his more recent work.

Some of the songs are a little scrappy. But that’s only compared to his own work. Valiant and producer Jurgen Von Wechmar at Sunset Recording Studios continued to work together through the years and eventually got it just right.

Valiant remains unique by being ordinary and unpretentious. His ability to make spoken language flow and sparkle is magical. Although he writes (and therefore sings) in both Afrikaans and English – his language is distinctly South African. The lyrical intricacies, however, make Valiant Swart’s work a little hard to write about. A listening session would be more appropriate, but I will to do a little run-through nevertheless.

The album kicks off with a reckless and simple ‘Syber Sakkie’. It has a careless edge that always made the band a pleasure to watch live. Guitarist Anton L’Amour is frenetic. ‘Tjank Stations’ has a similar style, but is marginally more sophisticated.

Almal Maak Haar Mal’ is a wonderful biographical description and touches on the frustrations of real-time Stellenbosch student-life issues.

Stylistically, ‘Oorlede Lettie’ is an early take on a Country / Elvis Presley theme that would reoccur in later work. On this album, parts of the vocal delivery on ‘Anyway, Alex Jay’ show more of Swart’s love for Elvis. This song is a simple anecdote based on a plane trip with Alex Jay – at that point a hugely popular radio personality - as a co-passenger.

(You Can’t) Fax Me Your Love’ has always been crowd favourite. The dilemmas of loveless technology – at that point still a fax machine.

Jacaranda’ is a reference to Pretoria, and offers more lyrical magic. I recently read somewhere that there are plans to rid Pretoria of its Jacaranda trees. How tragic.

Slawereen’ is one of those tracks that bring out the melancholic side of Swart. It’s pensive and African. Swart’s guitar playing is often reminiscent of Mark Knopfler. Just with a little more earth.

Mama Blues’ takes a trip to a land of slow and careful blues.

Hi-Fi Op Stand By’ is about how easily some lekker music can change any gathering into a party. Student life’s greatest moments. The solos are sublime.

Some of the word-play in songs like ‘Wanda’ would be almost impossible to translate effectively (to any language). The interplay between words and meanings are just too precise in Afrikaans.

Soos ‘N Vis’ is pure poetry. One should be reminded that the power of the musical contribution wonderfully disguises that poetry, keeps it balanced and increases its longevity. Wow. You should really have a listen [again].

Onna Cheeck’ is a wonderful excursion into reggae with a solid bass-line delivered by Casper Malherbe.

Lyrically, ‘Droomrivier’ is one of Valiant’s most enticing pieces. Set against a solid, driving, pounding beat that leaves you rather dazed when it’s over. I usually wish it would just go on forever.

Kake Van Die Leeu’ was also a huge crowd-participation moment at gigs. Clever lyrics and a thumping back-beat.

International Maria’ has long been one of my favourite songs. It soars and soars with an endless flow of [often almost bitter] memories of another truly South African dilemma: the effects of the fear of a dark and scary Africa. Many white folks had left the country. Some didn’t. There are no specific references to politics and no agendas. The references are to real life issues that can only be properly understood if you know enough about the time-frame during which the songs where written. At live performances, this song usually closed off proceedings in total musical mayhem and anarchy. It was beautiful.

Yes, and I almost apologise – it sounds a bit like an ingredients list. In a way I suppose it is.
Have you ever eaten the raw ingredients of your favourite [non-raw] dish and thought: “Oh, Yum…”?

In short: Slightly scrappy but fun album underlined by brain-tingling lyrical magic. And if you don’t ‘get’ South African – it’s still great rock and roll.

Good for parties. And poets. And perfectly pot-roasted potatoes.

Worth all your memories of Stellenbosch in the early Nineties.

Valiant Swart - Kopskoot [1997]
Valiant Swart - Kopskoot [1997]
Valiant Swart
Valiant Swart

(I’d like to get permission from the photographer to use this photograph, so please get in touch if you can help.)

Mike Oldfield - Five Miles Out [1982]

So where did I dig this out…?

I understand the fascination with Tubular Bells. Everything about it. The one-man band. The intricacies of the production. The first release on Richard Branson’s Virgin Records label…

I don’t own Tubular Bells.

In 1982 Mike Oldfield released an album called Five Miles Out. If you where an absolute fan of Tubular Bells [six albums and nine years earlier] or his work up until this point, you may not have appreciated his venture into the easy listening Pop market. Oldfield’s work had mostly involved intellectual [and largely instrumental] ‘Progressive’ musical forays. However, delving into more conventional songwriting [and finding a good balance between the two] was probably a significant contribution to Oldfield’s longevity. Can you sing along to any of the tracks from Hergest Ridge? Do you remember the album? It only has two tracks.

Balancing extreme musical experimentation with well crafted radio friendly songs is not something many recording artists can do successfully. Right now I can’t think of any besides Mike Oldfield… He does it well.

Five Miles Out starts off with a distinctively Mike Oldfield ‘Taurus II’. A layered dance through a variety of finely timed tempo changes. It’s almost like a prelude, with snippets of a variety of musical themes – perfectly assembled. These kinds of tempo- and theme changes are only listenable if they are well constructed – like they are here. There is a Celtic theme that runs through this piece and is echoed in other parts of the album that conjures up notions of celebration, drama, solace, romance… ‘Taurus II’ is the concise guide to musical Celticism. It’s fantastic, and with all its twenty four minutes length already makes the album worth it. To followers, the use of the theme of ‘Taurus I’ from Oldfield’s 1980 album QE2 makes a notable appearance.

The second track [or the first track on side two if you are able to reference historical formats] is significant in that it is Mike Oldfield’s first true venture into recording Pop songs. If you’re a more casual fan, ‘Family Man’ will be recognizable due to it often appearing of collections and compilations. You may also remember that it became a big hit for Hall & Oats back in the Eighties.

Orabidoo’ picks up parts of the main up-tempo theme of ‘Taurus II’, but is mostly a much more subdued and meditative piece.

The familiar and slightly ominous title track ‘Five Miles out’ closes off the album.

With only five tracks and being just under fifty minutes in length – you’ll be left feeling a little like you want some more. Not because it was short or you feel cheated, but because when the music stops, it has taken you on such a ride that whatever else is going on around you will seem totally unfamiliar. The good thing is – if you own this album – you can take the ride anytime you want.

Surely worth the petrol money for a day trip around the Cape Peninsula - including a hearty lunch along the way.

Mike Oldfield - Five Miles Out [1982]
Mike Oldfield - Five Miles Out [1982]
Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield

U2 - All That You Can’t Leave Behind [2000]

By the year 2000, it seemed that U2 had already done everything they could have. They had managed to bridge the gap (or cross the line…) between being innovative and successful numerous times, and each time you’d think that they just couldn’t really do it again. Every time they released an album they would surprise us with the unexpected. After a 24 year existence and the release of nine albums during this time, it would not be surprising if there was just nothing left for the band to offer.

This possibility was almost true. On the surface U2’s 2000 release All That You Can’t Leave Behind doesn’t really break much new ground and there seems to be no real innovation.

But there is something going on here. For the first time the band revisit their roots. The raw rock and roll energy of early albums like Boy comes to mind. Fortunately it’s no re-hash. The triumphant ‘Beautiful Day’ is a perfect opening track and comfortably reintroduces us to U2’s straight forward rock and roll origins. ‘Evaluation’ is another pumped up celebration and displays the post-modern fusion of the resurgence of the old-school rock and roll sound with all the hi-tech stuff that has been learned in the interim.

There is also a more personal angle on subject matter [‘When I Look At The World’, ‘Peace On Earth’, ‘Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of’ and ‘New York’]. Songs have more to do with matters and less with issues. Although U2 have always dealt with issues that were close to them, there was always a universal, and often a non-personal approach. One with which there was always a bit of distance between the speaker and the issue. Face it – if you wanted to save the world on a personal and intimate level, you would not get very far. I suspect you’d realize that your own life was so insignificant that you’d probably give all your cool stuff away and go and live in a cave. What use would you be to the world-saving community then? Huh?

There’s a subtle cynicism in some of the lyrics [‘Peace On Earth’]. It’s a kind of realization that despite all the good intentions and all the hard work done (particularly by Bono) to deal effectively with real humanitarian issues – there is often much more involved to political decision-making than purported good will and perceived integrity. With All That You Can’t Leave Behind you feel that the fight is not over, but let’s just stay at home for a couple of days…

To add to the new immediacy, Bono’s voice has become slightly raspy. At first it feels a little awkward, but once you’re over it - it adds a new sense of vulnerability that is quite welcome. Especially after being almost untouchably clean for almost 20 years.

Despite not being my all-time favourite U2 album, it is still a good album and contains some of my favourite U2 songs.

It’s worth a fully packed picnic basket and a day spent in Tokai Forest.

U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind [2000]
U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind [2000]

Sandra Bernhard - Excuses for Bad Behavior Part 1 [1994]

You may think this is a strange place to start my album based reviews, but all things considered – what did you expect?!

Sandra Bernard was once notoriously well known for being a hot lesbian who had a thing with Madonna. Right? Actually, she’s a stand-up comedienne who has been active since the late Seventies; has appeared in a Martin Scorsese film [The King Of Comedy]; featured on Roseanne for six years; been in Playboy magazine and has released a string of albums – two of which are music – the rest comedic. She was most successful during the Nineties. She’s still pretty active, but the list would be long, so look it up yourself.

‘Excuses for Bad Behavior Part 1’ is Ms Bernhard’s first release that concentrates on music and – for the most part – is a bit random and awkward. However, there are a couple of tracks which are quite plausible and can easily get lost in the mix. Here – if you’re not a pre-determined fan – you clearly have to be selective to get to the better stuff.

Production by Mitch Kaplan and Derrick Smith and Ted Jensen’s mastering skills have made the album really cohesive, which – maybe strangely – makes it easier for the good stuff to get lost.

The first track that really catches your attention – ‘Manic Superstar’ – is a mash-up of sorts of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Manic Depression’ and ‘Everything’s All Right’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. This is a pretty clever mix and believably pulled off.

A couple of cool lounge-y / disco-y tracks [‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’, ‘Who Knew’ and ‘Prophecies’] are good for background music while having cocktails on the balcony and might lead to a little unconscious foot-tapping, but when Sandra tries to get all serious [‘Innocence’, ‘The Letter’] – you’re either going to get teary eyed, or you’ll take the CD out of the player and burn it. Some of her references – to herself and the ‘lesbian community’ – are mildly entertaining, though.

Sandra’s ability to sing should not be questioned. Just her ability to find an audience within a music loving community. She just hops around between commitments too much to maintain musically cohesive integrity.

Sandra’s interpretation of ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ is almost beautiful. It’s lounge-y, clear and sincere. That might sound odd. Too bad. It’s one of my favourite Rolling Stones songs, and I’m not often impressed by cover versions.

’50 Ways To Leave Your Lover’ is another cover, and also one of the better executed tracks on the album. Sandra is good at performing other people’s songs. Her selections here are suited to her and she does them with a sense of confidence that is not present in the own songs.

Unless you’re a huge fan of Sandra Bernhard – don’t pay more than the price of a packet of cigarettes for this album (if you can find it…).

Sandra Bernhard - Excuses for Bad Behavior Part 1 [1994]
Sandra Bernhard - Excuses for Bad Behavior Part 1 [1994]
Sandra Bernhard
Sandra Bernhard

Blue Notes

I have a theory that one should not be expected to understand or necessarily relate to things that happened before (erm… or after) the period during which you were / are alive. This is not meant to exclude the possibility of there being an understanding / ability to relate – only the expectation.

Until relatively recently, my own collection of music has (automatically) stayed within this framework. Yes, I like The Beatles - including the early stuff – but my collection only included The Beatles from 1968 and Abbey Road from 1969. A later addition and probably the first acquisition outside my ‘happened during the time I was alive’ period was Rubber Soul. I’ve wanted to get the Box Set for a very long time, but this has somehow just not happened…

More recently I have acquired some of the early Blue Note titles. Some of the recordings go back to 1956. The intensity of this music ventures into a world of defiance and integrity. I like it.

The Rudy Van Gelder series of re-issues is well priced and really worth looking into – even if you don’t have an affinity to jazz. It might change your mind.

And yes, I still want The Beatles’ Box set.

The Beatles
The Beatles
Blue Note
Blue Note
Rudy Van Gelder
Rudy Van Gelder

Mystic Rhythms [No Rush]

Back in the days when I was sharpening my ears and preparing myself for eventual excessive alcohol consumption, I spent much of my so-called free time in a small bar in the town I tried to grow up in listening to Sweatband forge their own place in South African music history. John Mair was our Guitar God. Wendy Oldfield was the sexiest Rock Chick you could imagine. Sweatband rocked.
Sadly though, after releasing one album, the band split. The boy didn’t quite make it (that big). I saw John in a bar in Johannesburg a number of years later. What happened? “We had to make a living…” He still played the guitar like there was no tomorrow and coaxed applause with his playing-the-guitar-behind-his-head trick. I’m not sure the crowd knew what they were experiencing. I knew it was awesome.

Wendy grew up. Sporadically releasing albums and winning awards. Her most recent offering being a collection of children’s songs. She’s still hot. Unfortunately, John passed away in 2002.

Most of the interesting music in the Eighties was happening in Johannesburg. Making an effort to watch bands play live when (or if) they came down South was not really much of a priority for me at that point. There were other things to deal with. Like growing up. I was lucky enough to see éVoid in our Town Hall. I was even luckier to see Cherry Faced Lurchers at Jamesons in Johannesburg later. Wow.
I would have liked to see bands like Via Afrika, Dog Detachment or Ella Mental. But I was growing up.

There is one band that I’d taken a special interest in and really would like to have seen. They were rockers. They had an element of danger. Even their name should have warned you. The Asylum Kids. Soon they too would break up and disperse. If my memory serves me correctly, Dino Archon moved to Los Angeles – forming a band called DV8. This was the first time I became aware of the concept of South African musicians actually being able to ‘go overseas’ and be musicians. The realities of Trevor Rabin and Anton Fig came to my consciousness later. Trevor Rabin joined a re-imagined Yes. Anton Fig played drums on Cyndi Lauper’s first album. Dollar Brand and Hugh Masekela being in exile was part of an entirely different reality.

Part of The Asylum Kids initially stayed and formed Tribe After Tribe – achieving some success with a cover of a Bob Dylan song and their album ‘Power’ in 1985. The production on the album is a bit dull, but in time this would be remedied. Before that could happen however, Tribe After Tribe also seemed to disappear off the face of the planet. I thought.

A couple of years went by. Then I stumbled upon another Tribe After Tribe album. They where alive and well. Albeit mainly as a collective of sorts banded around the curly red-head guy. Robbi Robb. Well now… Soon I would realize that Robbi had been the creative force behind The Asylum Kids. I had managed to lay my hands on two albums, ‘Tribe After Tribe’ (released in 1991 on Megaforce – just before the label’s demise) and ‘Pearls Before Swine’ (released in 1997 on Bulletproof – another label with a limited future). ‘Love Under Will’ (from 1993) and ‘Enchanted Entrance’ (from 2002) have somehow managed to escape my collection. For now.

The three albums after ‘Power’ took some of the undertones from that album and finally managed to get a sound that many grunge bands probably still only dream of. There was a better understanding of how to translate the band’s feel into a recording. It took the all-embracing power of guitar-driven rock from as far into the earth as you can dig with your bare hands to a little higher than McClears Beacon. It feels like the desolation of the desert being made a happy place for those who race through the Karoo on their trips between Johannesburg and Cape Town. To stop and breathe.

For more familiar musical references: think of melting Jane’s Addiction’s jangling, Led Zeppelin’s meandering, Jimi Hendrix’s groove, Pearl Jam when they’re playing something from ‘Ten’, an angry Neil Young and some atmospheric moments of Slayer together and having someone pour it gently into your ears.

Pause to think.

Then go and hunt for ‘M.O.A.B. Stories From Deuteronomy’ (released in 2008, and yes – also on a small label…). This is the latest studio album by Tribe After Tribe. A live album has been released since. It is brilliant, but not the place to start. It is also pricy.

M.O.A.B’ showcases a slightly less edgy sound - as did ‘Enchanted Entrance’. It embodies a ‘concept album’ tone with interludes and readings from Deuteronomy, but there’s nothing lost here.
(It should also be the easiest of the albums to lay your hands on.)

Don’t let it pass you by.

Tribe After Tribe - M.O.A.B. Stories From Deuteronomy

Hot Hot Heat [You Don’t Get to Quit]

Last Sunday (11 March 2012, for the record) I left my flat at just past nine thinking “This is GREAT!”

I was on my way to the Cape Town edition of RAMfest. Last year was my first excursion to this event. Then it was sprawled over three days and, I believe, very well presented. Funny thing: I got slightly lost on the way there. It was dark, and I’d never been to Nekkies Holiday Resort, o.k.…!

This year’s format changed to a one day event. I don’t know the details but I assume it was to streamline a National Tour type movement covering 5 cities in 5 days. Pretty spectacular to pull that off successfully, I think. So despite an initial feeling of slight disappointment, I set forth to go and do what I do. It‘s all about the music. Yes really. And taking photographs. I love it.
The venue had also been changed to the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch – a twenty minute drive from Cape Town. I was wonderfully close to home.

I got lost. Trying to follow the Google maps route was not such a good idea. Their positioning of the Ostrich Ranch is… well, it’s wrong. But I had no idea. I took the last major turn-off before the actual turn-off (I found out later), and spent the next hour thinking “It has to be here somewhere” while driving as if I knew exactly where I was going. I eventually got some real directional advice from a biker who was out with what I assumed to be his wife, who had just got her own bike. I envied them. For their bikes, and at that point: their much lower fuel consumption than my form of transport.

Within ten minutes I was at the ranch - not an ostrich in sight.

I parked my tired vehicle, prepped myself and headed for the only place I heard music coming from (and closest to the entrance). The ‘electronic’ stage. Then I moved on. It was hot. Very hot.

The lay-out for last year’s event allowed me to keep walking in a circle and get to see or hear something interesting soon enough.

The L-shape for this year was probably good for logistics (except possibly quite a trek to get to food stalls and nothing entertaining between the main stage at the one end of the L, and the ‘electronic’ stage at the other end). (And while I’m raising possible objections: no obvious / clearly visible medical facilities. There was a medical tent, but if you consider the heat and silly things some people do when they have their moments of unsupervised freedom without the necessary experience, it may be advisable to have medics as blaringly obvious beacons. That’s all that niggled me slightly, but I’m not here to complain.)

I planned to follow the same modus operandi as last year, despite this risk of having the hoards in the beer tent who may have noticed me think they were watching a tennis match – me being the ball. Keep moving.

Keep moving. Keep moving? In this heat?

The main stage was doing endless sound-checks. Eventually I only made it back to the electronic stage twice - catching a whole two acts there in the process.

Then I found a little corner in the shade of an energy drink sponsored tower to retreat to in my battle with the heat of sun between bands until the temperature dropped. Later I found some friends who’d annexed a little spot of shade and a straw bale and spent some time with them.

I won’t get into the little detail of every band. If you were all that interested you would have been there. Right? So I’ll save us all the trouble and quickly highlight a handful of notes:

It was very hot. I think I may have made reference to that.
All the bands playing the main stage put on extremely credible performances (despite the heat).
Watching Gareth Norwood - the bassist from Newtown Knife Gang - go wild is (I assume) almost as awesome as watching Lemmy stand still.

Respect to Francois Van Coke and Wynand Myburgh. Here with Fokofpolisiekar, they are probably currently one of the hardest working rock and roll duos about.

Hanu De Jong (this time with The Narrow) was - on close inspection - suffering from the rigors of the long distance traveler but, together with the rest of the band, put on another blistering show – managing in the process to thump a dent in the stage that took a while to fix. Always impressive, committed and fun.

After the delay – and in keeping with the theme for the day, the stage was ready for spectacular show by the band all the kids came for. In Flames. They seriously ROCKED! Even more impressive than their actual performance (for me at least) was the fact that at the end of their set, vocalist Anders Fridén got off the stage and took the time to shake hands with practically everybody in the crowd that was close enough to shake hands with. (Did you notice how short he is?) I was impressed. Very impressed. It is that stuff that makes me pay extra attention to a band. It hasn’t made me like The Parlotones’ music more though…

Did I forget to mention Awolnation somewhere..? Thought not.

The kids loved Infected Mushroom and I stayed as long as I could. Somehow the translation of an electronic collective into a stage rock type act fronted by a stick-waving vocalist just doesn’t manage to hold my attention for too long, and it seemed to be time for my next adventure: going home…

There are also other advantages to leaving at this point in a show. If you leave before the very end – you can get out of the parking area quickly. I usually stay till the very end. Just so I don’t miss anything. With the extra long morning trip still on my mind, I thought it best to capitalize on any shot-cuts I could. So off I went. Into the night.

I took a wrong turn. Again. Despite noticing the short string of cars behind me take a right-turn at very dark intersection, I thought I knew exactly where I was going and I turned left. I soon noticed that the moon was on the wrong side of the road and that I was traveling North instead of South. I spent another hour thinking “There’s got to be a sign somewhere” - hoping to find something to give me direction. Wherever I was had no road signs. Until I eventually reached a t-junction indicating that I’d been on the Old Malmesbury Road. This is far from where I was supposed to be heading, but at least here I could make a decision to turn and drive in a direction that would eventually get me closer to home. Where was the moon? I checked and made a right-turn and after quite some time – found Durbanville. I was in familiar territory with streetlights and road signs.

After a long day’s driving and a great RAMfest experience - I got home and when to sleep.

Day Of Thunder indeed.

RAMfest Cape Town 2012
RAMfest Cape Town 2012
Audiophile 021
Audiophile 021
Das Kapital
Das Kapital
Newtown Knife Gang
Newtown Knife Gang
Hog Hoggidy Hog
Hog Hoggidy Hog
Taxi Violence
Taxi Violence
The Narrow
The Narrow
In Flames
In Flames
Infected Mushroom
Infected Mushroom

Photography by Tim Honey

The Space Sound Gives Us

How many albums take you back to a feeling you can almost smell? How many of them do you (still) own? And then: How many of those are still classifiable as awesome!?

Siouxsie And The Banshees’ ‘The Scream’ is one that does it for me. One thing that has kept the group fresh has been a flow with the times. No – that doesn’t mean they’d sold out, but like with everything in life – you have to move with (or against) the throng of the masses to some extent. Everything is relative.
An architect (unless they’re designing branded generic corporate environments) would be seen as redundant if they kept designing the same building. (Generic housing complexes form part of generic corporate environments and could be dealt with separately – let’s stick to a non-greed driven, vaguely creative world for now, shall we?)

Musicians – like architects – that can adapt their art to maintain an essence of relevance within a continuously changing environment and retain their integrity are few and far between.

‘The Scream’ is almost surprisingly well put together considering the raw punk sentiment of 1978. The follow-up (and second) Siouxsie and the Banshees album ‘Join Hands’ seems to embody the discord and messiness much more accurately and is pretty close to disastrous. Fortunately ‘The Scream’ managed to transcend all that and captured the raw energy in a way that is still compatible with anything you’ll find today. Not that there’s much to compare it with. Breaking boundaries in music can make you unique and memorable or call you out as rubbish. If ‘Join Hands’ was our first introduction to the Banshees… Who?

Siouxsie And The Banshees - The Scream

New Possibilities with Red Hot Chili Peppers

With the exception of ‘One Hot Minute’ I’ve never been a great fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers.

However the song “Factory of Faith” from ‘I’m With You’ (released in 2011) came up on my playlist and caught my attention. Not instantly recognizable as a Red Hot Chili Peppers song probably helped. The five year break since ‘Stadium Arcadium’ probably also helped. So here goes another listen to the album…

It seems that the band has somehow (finally) reached a point where trying to be something has finally been taken over by just being who they are. There’s an ease to the flow instead of an angst-like urgency – not unlike what you’ll get on ‘One Hot Minute’. The production doesn’t even smell like Rick Rubin, so there are quite a few strange things happening here. The atmospheric layering on “Even You Brutus?” has moments that make you think they (or you) have been listening to Pink Floyd’s ‘Atom Heart Mother’.

There’s still the lyrical silliness that often comes up in their work (“Ethiopia”) and generally a familiar tone to everything, but they might just have grown up. So if you really like The Peppers you’ve probably bought the album already. If you’re not really all that familiar, this could make for an eased introduction.

But wait… Is my first post really about Red Hot Chili Peppers?! Oh No!!

Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You