Vagabond Blues Show on All Jazz Radio every Thursday afternoon

Join me on my Vagabond Blues show on www.AllJazzRadio.co.za every Thursday afternoon from 4pm to 6pm (SA time). I play a broad spectrum of music in the blues genre, with a special focus on South African blues. – Brian Currin

Extract from an article I wrote in February 2007

I was born in South Africa 4 days after “The Day The Music Died” according to Don McLean (you work it out!). I was born and bred in a home filled with music (mainly Church Hymns and Showtunes) but soon discovered in my pre-teen years that I had absolutely no talent for singing or playing an instrument. I do play a mean air guitar solo though – I usually play a Black Fender Stratocaster Original Air Guitar. I also play Air Organ – a Hammond B3 of course – and recently I’ve started learning to play Air Harmonica.

Since I had this overwhelming passion for music, but not the skills to perform it, I started collecting music as well as information about music and also statistics and lists. Finding musical information in Apartheid-era South Africa was difficult to say the least, but my passion knew no bounds and I persevered.

In 1973 I heard the ‘Made in Japan’ version of ‘Smoke Of The Water’ by Deep Purple and my fate as a Rock Fan was sealed. I always thought that when I grew up I would lose my love of Rock and get into Classical and Jazz as “older” people did. Never happened! What did happen is that I just added and added more styles, types and genres to my musical tastes, though Classic Rock is still my first love and Deep Purple is still my favourite group. After listening to Purple and Zeppelin and Tull and Clapton and such-like I wanted to hear the original blues that inspired them … and a whole new world of discovering the Blues masters opened up for me.

Blues From The Deep South (Of Africa)

Because of South Africa’s unique geographical position and cosmopolitan population, there is really no such thing as a single defining style of “South African Music”. We seem to have everything here on the Southern Tip of Africa including African Tribal music, Zulu Township Jazz, Country and Western, Death Metal, Electronica and so much more, all with their own clearly-defined (and sometimes overlapping) niche markets. However the blues seems to be very popular in South Africa amongst most population groups, though I’ve never seen any research to support this theory of mine.

Blues in South Africa includes a wide variety of genres including Jazz Blues, Folk Blues, Traditional Blues, Blues Rock, Acoustic Blues and even blues sung in the language of Afrikaans which for want of a better name we will call Afrikaans Blues. So really South African Blues is just a term to mean Blues played by South African musicians. Cover versions of old blues classics abound, but there are also a large number of original compositions written in a variety of blues styles. Very few South African Blues musicians actually concentrate on playing the Blues exclusively, but rather play a mix of Blues, Rock, Blues-Rock and Country Rock.

Join me on my Vagabond Blues show on www.AllJazzRadio.co.za every Thursday afternoon from 4pm to 6pm (SA time). I play a broad spectrum of music in the blues genre, with a special focus on South African blues. – Brian Currin

Rodriguez and his place in The Story Of Rock | Brian Currin

Willem Moller, Rodriguez, Brian Currin, Sugar Segerman | 2 March 1998
Willem Moller, Rodriguez, Brian Currin, Sugar Segerman | 2 March 1998

Almost all the recent fan messages on the Sugarman.org website are from people saying they have never heard of Rodriguez before. Many even apologize for not listening to him in the 1970s.

I can’t remember when exactly I first heard ‘Cold Fact’. For me his music just always seemed to have been there. A number of the mixtapes from my teenage years show “Sugar Man”, “Rich Folks Hoax” and “I Wonder” as being from 1973/74 when I was about 14/15.

I was wrong, of course, but didn’t know that until much later.

A long time ago, I compiled a series of C90 mixtapes called The Story Of Rock, with all the information lovingly catalogued and hand-written in hard cover books.

Page 13 of Book 7 shows the track listing for “The Story Of Rock 1973 to 1974” and includes the following songs:

  • Long Train Running – The Doobie Brothers
  • We Live – Xit
  • Sugar Man – Rodriguez
  • Radar Love – Golden Earring
  • Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
  • Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • The Ballad Of Casey Deiss – Shawn Phillips
  • Rich Folks Hoax – Rodriguez
  • We’re An American Band – Grand Funk Railroad

Other artists include Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers Band, Yes, Focus, Chicago and more. And Rodriguez was the only one that got two entries! The next page shows “The Story Of Rock 1974 to 1976” and includes “I Wonder” alongside songs by Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher, Pink Floyd, Genesis, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Uriah Heep, Nazareth and others.

Cold Fact
Cold Fact

I am finding it impossible to imagine what it must be like to not grow up listening to his music alongside all those other well-known classic rock bands. I know I never heard him on the radio, but that wasn’t that strange as a number of my “Story Of Rock” artists didn’t get much radio play any way.

But that he wasn’t famous in the rest of the world, didn’t cross my mind. When I first discovered the internet during the 1996 Festive Season, I could find information on Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, however I could find nothing on Rodriguez. And that started me on a quest, that just seems to be continuously having happy endings.

Without trying to sound too melodramatic, I would not be living the life I do now, and earning my income from doing what I love, if it was not for Rodriguez and all the sparks that he ignited.

Brian Currin, August 2012

Life Is A Long Song

[Thanks to Jethro Tull for the post title]

Just a few of my favourite really long songs.

Thick As A Brick – Jethro Tull

Supper’s Ready – Genesis

Karn Evil 9 – Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Close To The Edge – Yes

Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield

Phallus Dei – Amon Düül II

Autobahn – Kraftwerk

Ma – Rare Earth

Get Ready – Rare Earth

Just A Poke (album) – Sweet Smoke: Baby Night & Silly Sally

Includes an excerpt from The Soft Parade by The Doors and a wonderfully phased drum solo.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond, parts 1-9 – Pink Floyd

On the ‘Wish You Were Here’ album, this song is split into two sections, separated by the other 3 songs on the album. Here it can be heard as one long piece.

Anonymus Two – Focus

Tarkus – Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Echoes – Pink Floyd

Salisbury – Uriah Heep

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida – Iron Butterfly

Ordinary length songs are often stretched incredibly during live performances, here’s one of them:

Dazed And Confused (live 1973) – Led Zeppelin

And here’s another:

Space Truckin’ – live 1974 – Deep Purple

And just for laughs:

Metal Machine Music – Lou Reed

This double album, consisting of 4 sides of equal length, is like one of those really bad movies that you keep watching hoping it will get better.

Spoiler alert:  it doesn’t.

Classic Rock on Rhythm

Many international acts are hard to find on Rhythm Music Store due to various licencing restrictions, however there are a number of classic rock songs that can be found.

Here is a list of some of my favourites in no particular order; please note that quite often they are live versions or updated re-recordings.

And as a bonus, take a listen to Ministry’s Cover Up album which includes covers of songs by classic rockers The Doors, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Golden Earring and err, Louis Armstrong.

Top Ten Tunes: Led Zeppelin

My top ten tunes from Led Zeppelin.

  1. Stairway To Heaven
  2. Immigrant Song
  3. D’yer Mak’er
  4. Boogie Chillen / Let That Boy Boogie / Boogie Mama (extract from 1973 live version of Whole Lotta Love)
  5. Whole Lotta Love
  6. Communication Breakdown
  7. Since I’ve Been Loving You
  8. All My Love
  9. Rock & Roll
  10. Wearing & Tearing

Disclaimer: I have decided to limit myself to only ten tunes, so of course some of my other favourites have been omitted.

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