Impi, (not to be confused with John Kongos’ briefly lived band or Johnny Clegg’ seminal anthem) were mostly The Bats under a different name. To their ranks they added Sounds of Brass’ Peter Hubner, The Square Set’s Neville Whitmill and Hubner’s girlfriend Deni Loren. The group released one eponymously titled album which featured the track ‘Sun.’
Listening to it, one can see why The Bats chose not to release it under their usual name. It was far more prog rock influenced than most of their previous pop work and, perhaps they felt their fan base would not really like it. Starting out with a heavy beating drum (African rhythm), then weaving in a haunting pennywhistle before building up to the catchy chorus with a rich brass ensemble.
Unfortunately for The Bats, their alter ego did not really capture the hearts and minds of their pop fans, nor those of the progressive bands like Hawk, Abstract Truth and Freedom’s Children as the album did not do too well and faded into obscurity. Fortunately Benjy Mudie, the keeper of the South Africa rock flame, has just released the album on his Retrofresh label, so we are able to listen to ‘Sun’ and all the other tracks, and wonder why we didn’t go for it big time at the time.
Deborah from Wallstone Publishing has very kindly given permission to make these Mick Jade songs available for our listening pleasure.
“Memories” written by Mick Jade and performed by Mick and his band “The Jade Brothers Band” late 1970’s one of the very few bands performing only original music at the time.
This album was recorded at RPM but was never released. When the band fired their manager, RPM held back the album’s release. Such a shame as it was a really good album.
The other members of the band were: Gordon MacKay on keyboards (brother of Duncan MacKay), Sean Fourie also on keyboards (son of Johnny Fourie and Mick’s brother in law), Mark Wallis on drums (brother of Mick), Trevor Cranfield on Bass.
The very tasteful sax on this recording was played by Dan Hill.
Give Me More
Burning In The Night
“Burning in the night” composed and performed by Mick Jade was recorded at the SABC in 1986 as a track on a Transcription Album titled “Dragonbreath”.
Arrangements by Mike Campbell with studio muso’s like Jethro Butow on additional guitar, Richard Pickett on Drums, Mike Campbell on Bass.
A great rocker!
This CD compiled by Dirk Uys in March 2002, and released by EMI in May 2002, is now long out-of-print, but inspired by Marq Vas I have linked to the songs that are available to download on Rhythm Music Store.
This album collected the A to Z of Afrikaans Rock (from Akkedis to Karen Zoid) at the time, as well as most of its genres like blues, boogie, industrial, punk, hip hop, rap, reggae, metal and more.
I seem to remember Dirk telling me at the time that he would have liked to include a David Kramer song but wasn’t able to get permission. Not sure what song it was, but I have included David Kramer’s Bokkie Bokkie as a digital bonus track.
South Africa was a very different place in 1971 when Cold Fact was modestly unleashed on the Southern hemisphere. Back then, nobody had heard of Rodriguez. Abba was storming the charts, TV hadn’t arrived (god forbid, it was too corruptive according to the dominees) and our current President was in jail. Music was played on turn-tables, Cliff Richard was on tour and the Hippie era hadn’t quite made it South. Violence and crime was something that happened in the townships, South African musicians were gaining modest international success and Sundays were spent at church.
“Sugar man, won’t you hurry ‘cos I’m tired of these scenes”.
Against this backdrop, an album with lyrics such as these must’ve seemed years ahead of it’s time and could only have captured the imaginations of a lost generation of South Africans. Over the next twenty five years, waves of disco, punk, new-wave, grunge and electronic music (in addition to our own ethnic music) served as soundtrack to the country’s turbulent history. Yet through it all an astonishingly simple folk album from a hitherto unknown singer crept into the hearts of many, occupying a unique place unparalleled elsewhere in the vast world of music.
The Legend unfolded on it’s own. Rodriguez dropped out of sight, lost in the haze of hippiness, and the profound lyrics left behind on Cold Fact were the only clues we had to invent the mystery and myth.
That has all been settled now, and the remarkable reappearance of this long-forgotten Hispanic American is a celebration of the enduring popularity of this album. Since it’s re-release on CD in 1991 by Polygram South Africa, it has sold a incredible 60 000 copies, encompassing several generations of fans from all quarters.
Soon you know I’ll leave you, and I’ll never look behind, ‘cause I was born for the purpose that crucifies your mind.
Like other Americans before him, notably Morrison and Dylan, Rodriguez was a hopeless romantic, inspired and troubled by the changing world around him. His lyrics were deep and poetic, yet it was the simple acoustic accompaniment that lent the album so much timeless appeal. Cold Fact opens with the ultra trippy Sugar Man, which may well have been straight out of an acid trip. “Sugar man met a false friend on a lonely dusty road, lost my heart, when I found it, it had turned to dead black coal” suggests just where exactly the inspiration came from as he goes on to list jumpers, coke and sweet Mary Jane. More than any other Rodriguez song, it is Sugar Man which personifies the artist in the minds of those who have always wondered. The eerie moog synthesizer, whistling in the background, the lazy and simple guitar chords and the dreamy nasal voice place the listener firmly in an era of fantasy. It sets a perfect tone for the album and the myth.
By contrast, Only Good For Conversation is nothing short of disturbing with it’s grinding power riffs and vocal echo. In fact it is a good indication of the irony and sarcasm that Rodriguez layers thickly throughout the album. “My statue’s got a concrete heart, but you’re the coldest bitch I know” shows just how blunt the singer could be.
The moon…. is hanging…. in a purple… sky.
At times, his music was simple and beautiful, his lyrics pure poetry. Lovesickness was often the theme, but it was always from the lips of a troubled soul. In Crucify Your Mind, one of the albums most subtle songs, one gets the impression he’s begging like a scorned lover. In fact, he’s competing for a girls attention, but is sidelined by the lure of narcotics, and the boys who push them – one of many references throughout the album. “Was it a huntsman or a player that made you pay the cost, that now assumes relaxed position and prostitutes your loss, were you tortured by your own thirst in those pleasures that you seek, that makes you Tom the curious, that makes you James the weak” he asks. The appeal of Rodriguez, is his ability to state common emotions so beautifully. Always cynical and often sarcastic, he later makes a similar jibe “and don’t try to enchant me with your manner of dress, for a monkey in silk is a monkey no less” in the song Like Janis.
Drifting, drowning, in a purple sea of doubt, you wanna hear she loves you but the words don’t fit the mouth.
At times, the songwriter on this album – whoever he may be – is a desperate character and it’s not surprising, sifting through these lyrics, that rumours of taking his own life abounded. In Jane S Piddy his self pity of lost love is heartbreaking. From the above lyric he goes on to describe himself “you’re a loser, a rebel, a cause without”. Similar poignancy emerges in the short and simple final track on the original side one, Forget It. At no point, does Rodriguez ever seem happy. All these clues lend credence to the incredible myth that fell into the void that his disappearance left.
I wonder how many times you’ve had sex, I wonder do you know who will be next, I wonder, I wonder, wonder I do.
It is at his most obsessive, Rodriguez is best known. The simple lyrics from I Wonder mean many different things to many different people, and yet they are all sung in unison, at the end of disco’s, around camp fires or in a beat up old combi, with the same feeling that summed up the curiosity across South Africa throughout the seventies and eighties. He says, in two and half minutes, what many young men and woman would love to say to each but never find the courage. Again, in Hate Street Dialogue, the same simple guitar makes you imagine you’re sitting around a campfire in an Indian reserve, listening to some one’s home grown ditties. “Woman, please be gone, you’ve stayed here much too long”, he chided melodically. It’s the simpleness that is so alluring.
Gommorah is a nursery rhyme, you won’t find in the book.
It’s written on your city’s face just stop and take a look.
Perhaps it is the social conscience that has such important role on this album, and most significantly suggest what sort of person Rodriguez was and is. He has managed, throughout the album, to make it clear that the world around him just isn’t quite right. “The baby’s sleeping whilst it’s mother sighs” from Rich Folks Hoax is innocent enough, but all the time it is seen through the eyes of a working class Mexican immigrant, trapped in the motor industry that encompassed his hometown – Detroit. More than anything, it is this character that best describes the man who had disappeared for 25 years. In using school children for the chorus of Gommorah, Rodriguez effectively demonstrates the irony of inner city life, as he runs through the countless problems on the street in his neighbourhood, drugs, prostitution, runaway kids and bemused rich folk tourists. His working class vitriol emerges on Rich Folks Hoax and The Establishment Blues where he states matter-of-factly that “The Mayor hides the crime rate, council woman hesitates” and “little man gets shafted, sons and moneys drafted”. Not surprisingly it emerged, upon his rediscovery, that Rodriguez now has his own political aspirations, having run for mayor eight times! His views on the wealth disparities between rich and poor in the worlds most prosperous country are never far from the tip of his pen.
Don’t say any more, just walk out the door, I’ll get along fine you’ll see.
Sixto Rodriguez (as we now know him) has moved on, we all do. The album (and it’s predecessor, Coming From Reality) never quite cracked the vast American market, and the artist hung up his guitar and talent to concentrate on other ambitions. The albums producers (and Rodriguez’s backing musicians), Mike Theodore and Dennis Coffey emersed themselves in the vibrant Motown scene that was emerging at the time and the later went on to work with Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and Jackson Five.
In South Africa it’s hard to imagine that a cult figure of such importance should belong exclusively to us. To a lesser extent he is known in Australia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe. Importantly, what remains is a character that didn’t really exist at all, but was created out of a time and place, spurred on by our own imagination. Cold Fact documents, with astonishing effectiveness, a turbulent America at the tail end of the sixties. The numerous drug references, the cynical tone, the frustrated lover, the disillusionment and inner city blues were a world around Rodriguez, one that he had a poetic eye for.
“Sometimes the fantasy is better left alive, it’s as unbelievable to me as it is to you” stated his daughter upon their discovery of a whole fan base at the tip of Africa. And that way it will remain, he is a deeply private person and indeed we have a fantasy that would probably be shattered. Perhaps we all took him a little too seriously when the needle scratched off those old pieces of Vinyl with the final words; thanks for your time , then you can thank me for mine and after that’s said, forget it”.
Kobus! was the power-rock SA duo formed initially in 2000 by Theo Crous (Nudies guitarist) and Francois Blom (ex-Voice of Destruction vocalist), here with a big track off their self-titled debut album .
SA music legend Piet Botha and the Akkedis Band, Arthur and Rudolph Dennis and AJ Graham, have shared stages and jammed across Southern Africa resulting in their first joint album, One Night Only, recorded last winter and just released as The Lyzyrd Kyngs.
A track off Fox Hill Lane, this Kwazulu-Natal guitar wizard’s third album, beautifully textured with a whole array of instrumentation, all of these played by an equally impressive line up of established musicians.
From the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean to the shores of Cape Town comes a group of acappella singers that personifies talent and encapsulates outstanding entertainment – the Yale Spizzwinks (?).
The group came into existence in 1914 at Yale University and the torch has been passed down the generations of gifted performers to its current 18 members. The group incorporates an array of musical genres in their performances, including jazz, pop and rock ‘n’ roll.
The Spizzwinks (?) have won over fans including the likes of Magic Johnson, Henry Kissinger, Kelsey Grammer, former Governor George Pataki, Senator John Kerry, and Fred Savage. Furthermore, the group is enjoyed by audiences at ESPN, Disney World, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Carnegie Hall, the Honda Centre, Severance Hall and even the White House.
They have carried out shows in Asia, South America, Africa, Europe, the United States and New Zealand; and now South Africa will once again have the honour of their visit.
The Winchester Mansions will generously host the Spizzwinks (?) during the Cape Town leg of their South African tour.
Thanks to the support and sponsorship that the Spizzwinks (?) have received from schools, the group’s alumni board, and hotels like Winchester Mansions, they are able to perform at various venues in South Africa. Johannesburg and Pretoria will see the group at Beaulieu College, St. Peter’s College, Cornwall Hill College, Grayston Preparatory School and the African Leadership Academy. The group is also going to perform at the Ubuntu Fund in Port Elizabeth.
It was reported by many reviewers and re-issue liner note writers that the real name of the artist known as Ramases (who recorded the cult classic album Space Hymns in 1971) was Martin Raphael.
However in May 2012, Dorothy, better known to Ramases fans as Sel (or Selket), advised that her late husband, Ramases (real name Barrington Frost) and Martin Raphael were not the same person.
I would like to clear up the confusion between Ramases (Barrington Frost), born in Sheffield, and Martin Raphael who played the sitar on Space Hymns. I do not know where he was born or where he lived. I wish to confirm that Ramases and Martin Raphael were not the same person. I do not know how this misunderstanding has come about. I would be interested to hear any comments. Love and light from Selket. (Dorothy Frost, wife of Ramases)
Dorothy’s message was posted on the Space Hymns website and Facebook Page, and actor and musician, Peter Stormare responded with some information after listening to the studio out-take tapes.
Martin Raphael’s nickname was Ralph to start with….
On one of the out-takes the engineer… (Gouldman, I think) talks over the intercom to the guy on the floor … you think it’s to Ram but actually Ram isn’t even there … it’s an overdub… (track is obviously Molecular Delusion, Mr Raphael’s only contribution).
“Hey Ralph” And it sounds as if Ram is replying, but that’s a previous take…
It’s very clear on our out-take…
“Ralph” Martin Raphael is then the only one talking…
Ram did show and sing him the chord-changes, but when the sitar is laid down on the next take Ram has left.
Also the famous “Fuck” heard on Molecular Delusions is clearly not Ram but Martin Raphael … he thought the chorus was coming and plays that note but there is still 8 bars of verse to go … he goes back to the verse after a bar.
“Royd can churn out the noise in admirable fashion, setting it up with sparse sections that allow the music to breathe, then pulling out all the stops and going for the down-tuned riffs with abandon.” Metal Maniacs magazine
Africa is not known for it’s rock scene, yet in 1995, South African teenage brothers Ray Holroyd (vocals & guitar) and Tony Holroyd (drums), together with best friend Rob Krammer (bass), began writing music that would grow into the band Royd and see the trio play a vital role in establishing the modern rock/metal scene in their country. Having received international record deal offers as well as coverage in both US and UK magazines, Royd helped place South Africa firmly on the global rock map. In 1996, the band’s first single ‘Impression X’ from their debut EP ‘Preludes’ reached Number 1 on the rock chart of 5FM (South Africa’s largest national radio station at the time), beating bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden, and even being awarded the ‘Best Single of 1996’ by 5FM DJ Barney Simon. Throughout Royd’s active years (1995-1999), they performed countless sold-out shows along with good friends and fellow Cape Town rockers Lithium, who supported Iron Maiden on the South African leg of their X Factour in 1995. Among other chart success and continual heavy rotation on 5FM, Royd once again took the Number 1 position on the rock chart in 1999, with their single ‘Stalefate’ from their third release ‘Opus 3’. Before disbanding in late 1999, due to Ray’s relocation to Los Angeles in order to pursue his studies at the world-famous Musicians Institute, Royd released one last EP titled ‘American African’ as a Thank You to their fans for half a decade of loyal support. Now, 17 years after the formation of this classic South African modern rock band, non-profit record label Revolution Harmony is honoured to be reviving a piece of African rock history by reissuing the entire Royd back catalogue, with profits being donated to Buskaid, a charity that provides free music lessons and instruments to children in the townships of South Africa.
Please contact Revolution Harmony for more information, promotional copies, or to book an interview with the band.
Revolution Harmony is a non-profit record label. All label and artist profits are donated to affiliated charities.
The Villagers Theme – Mick Jade (A gold nugget this one)
Those of us old enough to remember the early days of television in South Africa will well remember the locally produced drama, The Villagers. Names like Ted Dixon, Hilton McCrae, Buller Wilmot and Chesa Labuschange were part of our lives back then. As was the theme song with its distinctive harmonica intro followed swiftly by Mick’s gruff vocals telling us that ‘The Village Reef is their home, built on a pile of gold, and for the young and the old life and work just carry on.’
The TV show followed the lives and fortunes of a mining community which was quite close to the hearts of many in the country. The interesting thing is that Jade’s theme sounds almost like it could be the theme tune for an American gold rush show. It has that sort of honky tonk…