Mini-Feature – Ultravox

Whenever I hear the song Vienna I have an overwhelming urge to join in and belt out the wonderfully dramatic hook. Dependent on the scenario, this normally results in others joining me, or raised eyebrows and mumbled comments, I’m used to both! By the time the Vienna album was released a lot of water and history had passed under the Ultravox bridge, and today I’ll attempt to take you on a quick trip through the history and background of this remarkable band.

Mini-Feature: Sun-El Musician – The Latest Round-Up

Every country has its own style of house music, but South Africa’s has a uniqueness about it that makes it immediately recognisable. Established global names like DJ Fresh and Black Coffee, and recent heavyweights such as Prince Kayebee and Kabza de Small have taken ‘our’ sound to a level of sleek sophistication. The DJ I’m featuring today is a part of the ‘heavyweight’ group, Sun-El Musician.

Level 42 – 4 Decades of Excellence

One of the bands from the 80s that always stood out for me is Level 42. The funky jazz feel that they specialized in struck a chord with me from the outset. Today I am taking a few hours break from work to indulge in my favourite hobby and bring you a quick mini-feature about one of the masters of their genre, Level 42.

The Splatter Platter – the story of the teenage tragedy song

During the 50s and early 60s a morbid fad took hold in popular music with the event of the teen tragedy song, often termed ‘death discs’ or (my favourite) ‘splatter platters’. Doomed lovers and teen death stories have been popular for hundreds of years with Romeo and Juliet definitely being the most famous, but I doubt the oldest. The obvious rhyming of the words good-bye, cry and die may have something to do with it, but that’s just a guess!

Mini-Feature: Springbok Nude Girls

Among the bands and musicians of the 1990s that have gone on to be household names and local legends is Arno Carstens, the Stellenbosch boy who rocked our world with Springbok Nude Girls and has continued his successful career (with and without ‘the Nudies’) to this day. Arno’s complete story is way too long and winding for a Tuesday mini-feature and deserves a major article to completely cover his musical journey. With this in mind, I have decided to share some background and songs from the Springbok Nude Girls part of his vast career.

Like a Version – a brief history of the contentious cover song.

The cover version is a contentious issue. Nowadays, a cover version immediately puts itself in the firing line of music lovers, and especially the musical press, all keen to judge and critique every note and nuance. Some offerings make it through the battlefield of personal scrutiny to be heralded as genius, while most are dissed across the various media platforms and consigned to the ‘don’t bother’ list. But this wasn’t always the case as we will find out in this fascinating look at the history of the cover version.

Mini-Feature: Covers for my Brother.

As it is my brother, Rob’s, birthday I thought I would share a few covers that have meant a lot to us both over the years (and in honour of him being such a wonderful person and such a special brother). I know it’s a bit indulgent on my part but I think this selection makes for some good listening, and apart from that, Rob is such a nice person I think he deserves to be honoured!

Mini-Feature: Allysen Callery – Quiet Music for a Loud World

I came across Allysen Callery thanks to the Folk-Rock Facebook group and something told me to follow the link. I’m glad I did. Her style has been referred to as Ghost Folk and that is also the name of her 6th studio album that we’ll look at later. Today I am featuring few tracks spanning her career and a bit of background to this mesmerising singer/songwriter.

Mini-Feature: The Day South Africa United in Music

Next week marks the 36th anniversary of a landmark event in South African musical history, the concert held to benefit Operation Hunger at Ellis Park (Johannesburg) in 1985. What made it so important is that it was the first time that the stringent apartheid laws were ignored and 125,000 multi-racial fans took the chance to celebrate our country’s diverse musical talent in a 12-hour festival that went off without a hitch, no violence (except for the vocalist of USA band Feather Contol being hit on the head by a bottle – a statement against non-local music methinks), and a wake-up call that the youth had had quite enough of being told what to think, what to believe and what music to listen to.

Mini Feature – Grimes

Grimes is an artist I wasn’t aware of until her name started to be linked to Elon Musk. The fact that she is now married to one of my heroes will have no bearing on today’s mini-feature, but I am certainly happy that something happened to bring her to my attention. This is one very talented artist who achieved her own success long before becoming Mrs Musk.

Mini-Feature – Petit Cheval

Having grown up in the hippy influenced kaftan and bead-clad years of the 60s, the first thing that attracted me to the New Romantics were the fashions. The theatricality of the movement struck a chord in me and heralded yet another colourful era. Then there was the emerging synth-pop sound that was so refreshing at a time when most of the offerings from the old-guard were starting to become ‘more of the same’.

Mini-Feature – EELS

With a discography spanning 25 years, Mark Oliver Everett’s (aka E) band EELS have explored styles and sounds, building up fans and haters alike. Some find E’s melancholy writings a bit too morbid, but in among the 13 studio albums they have released lay sparks of sheer brilliance, and some of the albums have bucked his normal moody trend and can be regarded as almost uplifting.