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Sun by Impi | 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Sun – Impi (You’d be bats not to like it)

IMPI
IMPI

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.

John Samson

Where to find it:
Impi – Impi (2012), Retrofresh, FRESHCD 183

The Villagers Theme – Mick Jade

One of my favourites from the early days of TV in South Africa.

1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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…

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LM Radio Top Hits Of 1973

Music Fan, Anton van Staden, has scanned this booklet issued by LM Radio reflecting their top hits of 1973.

The back cover was dedicated to an advert for a famous cigarette brand, but since I am not sure of the legalities of advertising tobacco products, I decided to omit it.

LM Radio Top Hits Of 1973

Extracts below are taken from sleeve notes for the Hits Of LM Radio 2CD set released by PT Music in 2009.

Do you remember a time in South Africa when there was no TV and no internet? Hard to believe that there ever was such a time, and that listening to the radio was actually one of the best ways to discover the latest and greatest music. The DJ’s cared about the music and they even had theme tunes. Springbok Radio was OK, but the station that teenagers really embraced with enthusiasm was LM Radio, based out of Lourenco Marques in neighbouring Mozambique.

LM Radio was privately owned and operated, and served a vast audience of young people by transmitting pop and rock music which was not heard on the state-controlled SABC stations. The music was everything and DJs like David Gresham, Darryl Jooste, Long John Berks, Peter De Nobrega (and many, many more), were real personalities who played music that they really liked and the fans appreciated it.

The radio station in Lourenco Marques first started broadcasting in the 1930s, but it was in the late 1950s that it underwent a major format change to cater for the younger generation.

The LMRadio.org website says it best; “LM Radio, as it was popularly known, was renowned for its Top Twenty chart show, the LM Hit Parade, and played a major role in promoting South African artists and their music.”

In 1975 LM Radio became Radio 5, and then 5FM, but the spark of independence was no longer there and whole generations have grown up in South Africa without hearing music radio at its best.  – Brian Currin

LM Radio Top Hits Of 1973
LM Radio Top Hits Of 1973LM Radio Top Hits Of 1973LM Radio Top Hits Of 1973LM Radio Top Hits Of 1973

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

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