Posted in Album Covers, Books, Brian's Best, Entertainment, Favourites, Golden Oldies, Mabu Vinyl, Movies, Opinion, Resources, Rodriguez, SA Music, SA Nostalgia, SA Rock Digest

Rodriguez: The John Samson Story

Guest post by John Samson, author of Cold Fiction.

Cold Fiction
Cold Fiction
Cold Fact (SA)
Cold Fact (SA)

I often joke with people in the UK that I didn’t leave South Africa of my own free will, but was actually kicked out because I was not fanatical about rugby and I didn’t drink, both activities that white South African males are meant to excel at. I could also have said in 1996, when I moved from South Africa to the UK, that a further reason for my being exiled was that I did not own a copy of ‘Cold Fact’ by Rodriguez. However no one in the UK would have understood what I was talking about.

But now with Malik Bendjelloul’s brilliant film ‘Searching For Sugar Man’ bringing Rodriguez to the world’s attention, I can mention the omission in my music collection and not be met with question mark faces. I am still not a huge rugby fan and have not taken to drinking alcohol, but I did rectify the lack of ‘Cold Fact’ problem on one of my early trips back to SA a couple of years after moving. I had been familiar with the album’s distinctive cover from many an hour spent flicking through the albums at my local record shop, but as a teenager in the 80’s I was hell bent on finding the next big New Romantic band and had no interest in ‘fossil music’ as I thought of it back then.

Searching For Sugar Man
Searching For Sugar Man

A further reason for the lack of ‘Cold Fact’ in my collection was that I managed to avoid military training (where a lot of guys were introduced to Rodriguez’ music) and counted my days working at the Receiver of Revenue, which I regarded as the lesser of two evils. Purchasing ‘Cold Fact’ became almost mandatory when I was lucky enough to befriend Brian Currin and Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, both of whom played a part in discovering the fate of Rodriguez. I was drawn into the world of the SA Rock Digest, an online music magazine focussing on South African Rock music, which Brian and Sugar had set up. With two such music aficionados as friends, I quickly discovered gaping holes in my music knowledge, especially regarding the rock scene in South African in the 70’s.

I began to correct this problem so as not to look foolish in front of my new found friends and part of the polyfilla (spackling paste to those not familiar with this brand) to mend the gaps was purchasing a copy of ‘Cold Fact.’ I don’t recall ever having heard the album before that and, given its banned status on the radio, could not have unknowingly heard it there, but as the first chords of ‘Sugar Man’ wafted through my speakers, I knew the song. It was as if it was a part of the ether in South Africa and had just soaked into me whether I had heard it or not. ‘I Wonder’ was also familiar to me and the rest of the album, although less soaked in, was also striking a nagging familiar chord.

Yes, unless you believe in the collective consciousness, I must have heard the album somewhere before that ‘first’ listen, but I cannot for the life of me remember where. That said, a part of me does like to believe that the music was just in the air we breathed in SA, that it was, and will always just somehow be there, as essentially part of life as oxygen and sunshine. This image, to me, seems to fit in with the mystical and almost mythical character that is Rodriguez.

Searching For Sugar Man
Searching For Sugar Man
Posted in Afrikaans Rock, Album Covers, Resources, SA Music, SA Nostalgia, SA Rock Digest

Kwela For Mandela – Randy Rambo En Die Rough Riders (aka Die Naaimasjiene)

From 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Kwela For Mandela – Randy Rambo En Die Rough Riders (aka Die Naaimasjiene) (Prisoner 46664 probably never heard this on its release)

Die Saai Lewe by Die Naaimasjiene
Die Saai Lewe by Die Naaimasjiene

Randy Rambo sounds like a promiscuous machine gun toting all American hero, but he wasn’t, he was Theuns Engelbrecht, a disaffected Afrikaaner growing up during apartheid’s death throes. He and his Rough Riders recorded an album called ‘Die Saai Lewe’ which achieved the unique feat of being the only Afrikaans album to ever be banned in its entirety by the apartheid government. The album was re-released in 1997 but under the guise of Die Naaimasjiene, the group’s new name.

‘Kwela For Mandela’ was one of the tracks on this album and was performed live at the Houtstok Rokfees and sounds like The Aeroplanes recording in a township in the 80’s. It’s got that township bass that I have always imagined is what actually powers the minibus taxis, and the 80’s synthesizers and slightly off key vocals that give it a home cooked feel. There is also a lovely jazzy trumpet interlude.

Of course the lyrics were controversial at the time. No one with a white skin was allowed to give Mandela the time of day, let alone a whole kwela (despite the song not really being kwela), but Randy was prepared to break with tradition and the result was this little gem which, although it got zero attention from the mainstream, was an important building block in the growth of Afrikaans rock music.

by John Samson

http://fs12.rhythmmusicstore.com/File/Listen/9044

Where to find it:

Houtstok Rockfees – Various Artists (LP, 1990), Gallo, HOUT1
Houtstok Rockfees – Various Artists (CD, 1998) Wildebeest, WILD013
Die Saai Lewe – Die Naaimasjiene (1997)

Posted in Afrikaans Rock, Brian's Best, Favourites, Music Research, Music Trivia, Opinion, Playlists, Resources, Rock Lists, SA Music, SA Nostalgia, SA Rock Digest

Die Mystic Boer – Valiant Swart

Die Mystic Boer – Valiant Swart (Dis ’n Groot Avontuur)

Die Mystic Boer by Valiant Swart
Die Mystic Boer by Valiant Swart

I can’t help but think of The Doors’ ‘Riders On The Storm’ when I hear this song. Not that ‘Die Mystic Boer’ is a rip off of Jim Morrison’s classic, it’s just that it has a similar texture to it, and, on certain versions where Simon ‘Agent’ Orange is given free rein on the keyboards, the rich organ sound certainly owes something to Ray Manzarek. The fact that the cover of ‘Die Mystic Boer’ album features a man on a horse with a guitar furthers a ‘Riders’ ambiance.

Valiant hung out with the legendary Koos Kombuis (whom he met during his military service) but was not really part of the Voëlvry movement that brought Afrikaans rock music to the nation. However, in 1996, he released the album ‘Die Mystic Boer’, and became the leading light of the next phase of Afrikaan Rock music. The title track of the album
quickly established itself as not only an important Afrikaans blues song but also an important South African song. The lyrics are poetical, the music mystical and bluesy and the song is magical.

It is worth checking out some of the recorded live versions of the song such as that on the cassette only release ‘Voetstoets‘ and the ‘Tassenberg All Stars‘ (the first one) album.

Where to find it:

Lyrics:

op ‘n vaal vlakte
het ons hom die eerste keer gewaar
hy’t snaaks gedans en weggeraak
in ‘n waas van walms en wind
daar was klowe in die verte
en die son was nog jonk
en grys voëls het ons dopgehou
toe ons onder die oggend vir mekaar geknik het
ons gaan hom jag
die newels het gewink
die dag het geruik na nuwe bloed
en gebreek

veertig dae en veertig nagte
soek ons die mystic boer
maar soos die perde van middernag-gedagtes
bly hy op sy hoede en loer
oor sy skouer

ons loop deur die leegte
met ons oë vasgepen op ‘n stofwolk
waar sy voete die aarde ontstig het
met passies vol punk en plesierigheid
die môrestond het ons blinkgesmeer met vars hoop
op geluk en wysheid en vreugde
en vure vol verskeidenheid
en lig
na die berge, na die klowe, na die spelonke
dwarrel die gees
terwyl ons, die jagters, hom bestorm
met nette en tralies
en tyd

veertig dae en veertig nagte
soek ons die mystic boer
maar soos die perde van middernag-gedagtes
bly hy op sy hoede en loer
oor sy skouer

die grense van ons mission
was slegs die wind en weer
die bliksems en donders wat bangpraat
en reën bring om stof te kanselleer
hoe groter die drang na ontmoeting
met die koning van die nuwe asem
hoe woester die tog
en hoe stiller
daar was ‘n skaduwee om merker te speel
en ‘n uptempo rouklaag die magnet
en visioene van nuwe dinge
was oral

veertig dae en veertig nagte
soek ons die mystic boer
maar soos die perde van middernag-gedagtes
bly hy op sy hoede en loer
oor sy skouer

skielik was daar niks
behalwe ‘n vaal vlakte en die son
was ons alleen met water en jeans
die danser was weg
teen middernag was die maan treurig en mooi
en die grond het gesmaak na sout
en toe die nuwe oggend opstaan uit die berg
het grys voëls ons dopgehou
so as jy hom sien, en jy wil hom soek
doen dit gerus
want dis ‘n groot avontuur
alhoewel jy eindig
waar jy begin het

veertig dae en veertig nagte
soek ons die mystic boer
maar soos die perde van middernag-gedagtes
bly hy op sy hoede en loer

oor sy skouer met ‘n vreemde grynslag
en dans in die nánag met die maan
oor sy skouer met ‘n oog wat uitdaag
kom nader, kom vra my my naam

ek’s die Mystic Boer
die Mystic Boer

ek’s die Mystic Boer
die Mystic Boer

Valiant Swart - courtesy of Valiant.co.za
Valiant Swart - courtesy of Valiant.co.za