This weekend we honour Human Rights Day in South Africa. Although human rights cover so many areas that are an ongoing global challenge, today I am exploring the role that music played during the 46-year-long apartheid regime that cruelly divided our nation. It is an interesting, if uncomfortable, topic that covers a very dark area of our history. To imagine what kind of country South Africa would be had apartheid not happened is in the realm of speculation, but this misguided system of racial segregation did manage to produce some memorable music.
I’m staying local to finish off the week with a band that emerged in 1995. Broadly speaking, Egyptian Nursey could be regarded as South Africa’s original Trip-Hop outfit, and although they only released one album, went on to influence a number of acts to follow. Considering the nationalities of the members, there is often debate as to if they can be considered South African? Whichever side of the fence you sit on this topic, listeners and critics adopted them as ‘ours’ on the first hearing.
I was recently asked to repost an article I wrote early last year about a South African band that has always fascinated me, Falling Mirror. Being formed in the late 70s, they fit perfectly into the mish-mash of musical styles and cross-overs that the era started to produce.
I was taking a look at some of the original stories behind some of our most popular songs recently and realised that the subject was far too big for a three-part feature. There are far too many great examples. I’ve decided to turn this ‘strange beginnings’ idea into a main feature and select a couple of extracts for the Facebook page and group.
I posted a brief glimpse behind the band, The Guess Who, early last year and I think it time to look a little deeper into the band that was regarded as the Beatles of Canada. With names such as Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman as key members, you can be assured of an interesting dip into musical history today.
I was updating my World Music playlist recently and came across a name I haven’t listened to in any depth for a while, the Burundian beauty, Khadja Nin. I only got to know her music around 2004 after she had, unfortunately, dropped out of the mainstream music world following her 2006 marriage to racing driver Jackie Ickx, but we do have her four acclaimed albums that chart the career of this talented songbird.
South Africa has such a diversity of musical styles and I sometimes tend to concentrate on bringing you music you may never have heard before at the expense of the new hit-makers. I tend to leave the hit-parade material alone but there are three artists in Johannesburg’s Mix FM local chart at the moment that I really feel deserve their place on the Loving the Music pages. I also have my non-SA friends and followers in mind while writing this who may seldom get to hear what’s trending on our local pop charts.
I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about doing a proper feature about the Cocteau Twins. I’ve featured a few tracks in the past, but the story behind the band deserves to be examined. Many regard the band as the founders of Dream Pop, with indecipherable vocals against the heavily processed guitars and synths, and embodied the dreamier side of this sub-genre of Alternative Rock. Along with New Order and The Smiths, they were one of the three main pillars of British alternative music of the day.
I am so excited to share a new find with you today. Thanks to a social heads-up from our friends at Rootspring Music I have finally discovered Urban Village. Although they only released their first album last month, this quartet of outstanding musicians has been around for a while. Sometimes there is a dire lack of information available about some of our new local artists; not so Urban Village. I happily found enough articles and interviews to keep the researcher in me smiling, and their full catalogue of past EP releases on Spotify and YouTube to keep my ears happy. The only problem I have had is choosing only three songs to share for today’s feature. They are all so good.
I thought that an article about Gordon Lightfoot would be a pretty straightforward task but as I researched this Canadian Folk/Rock legend I quickly realised that this was going to a winding journey through a professional career that has spanned 60 years.
I was transported back to a very different era of my life recently when South Africa’s Music Guru, Sean Brokensha, played Judy Collins singing Bread and Roses during his excellent weekend show on Johannesburg’s Mix 93 FM. Some may not remember who Judy Collins is, and fewer will know what the Bread and Roses movement was about, but it is an interesting bit of musical history that did so much for the social consciousness of the era’s music lovers. We’ll start with a little background about the movement’s driving force, Mimi Fariña.
I nearly didn’t write this article. When I saw a snippet informing me that it was the anniversary of the first Bubblegum Music chart-topper, I almost didn’t follow through. The song was Green Tambourine from The Lemon Pipers, and although not my favourite song of the era, it definitely beat some of the bubblegum crud we were expected to chew on the weekly hit parade. However, when I had a deeper look at this sugary-sweet genre I found it was quite an interesting topic and well worth some blog space.
Last week I fell in love and I think Yazmin and I are going to live happily ever after. This was all thanks to fellow music blogger (and member of our LTM group), Frank Darnell, who writes A Franke View posted two tracks from her debut EP that she released in 2017. My immediate comment was I can’t wait to hear more from this lady, and lo and behold, a few days later I stumbled across some more from this remarkable singer/songwriter.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.