Loving the Music - The Sound of August: 15th - 21st Aug 2020
Starting with a couple of days of local icons, the week began the celebration of our Facebook Group's first birthday. What better way to celebrate than with a daily threesome of songs from our ever-growing archives. We continued the week toasting the greats of the music world and enjoyed world music from some far-flung locations. Along with some sexy electro-swing and local superstars, it was a fun week of memories.
This series of blog articles cover a week of mini-feature posts from the Loving the Music Facebook page and group. This makes it easier for our music-loving community to search through our ever-growing archive of songs, backstories and trivia.
Aug 15th - 21st: Musicians Featured
Kalahari Surfers - Boo! - Nils Lofgren - Ray Wylie Hubbard
The Main Squeeze - The Hu Band - Wardruna with Aurora
Bizimkilər - The Cat Empire - Club des Belugas - Gotan Project
Deep South with Dave Leadbetter - Sean Koch - Msaki
15th Aug: I’m sticking to local today with the very distinctive sounds of a band that has been a part of the South African landscape since the early ’80s. To tell the story of the Kalahari Surfers is to tell the tale of one man, Port Elizabeth born, Durban raised and Cape Town citizen, Warrick Sony.
Warrick was born Warrick Swinney but changed his name to Sony after his national defence force conscription so as to make it harder for the SADF to contact him for follow-up military camps. Like many South African youth, he didn’t support the rigid apartheid system of the time, and the thought of fighting for it was abhorrent. A theme regularly reflected in his often-banned music.
The Kalahari Surfers isn’t so much of a band than a changing group of musicians that perform Warrick’s music. The story began in 1983 with a home-recorded and self-released cassette titled ‘Gross National Product’ came to the attention of the Sunday Times newspaper who called it a "daring home-mixed collection of subliminal jive rhythms, sad-sweet jazz sounds, tabla burps, church bells, bird shrieks, political speeches and found sounds". It must have struck a positive chord as they declared it one of their Three Terrific Tapes of the year.
When, in 1984, he couldn’t find anyone to press his album ‘Own Affairs’, he formed what has been a longstanding alliance with UK-based Recommended Records, who took on the task. Among many raised eyebrows, the local music press was ecstatic with The Sunday Times, again the main supporter, claiming it "music born from the spilled seed of our national sickness and nurtured to nightmare-hood in the moral drought of daily life/politics". Yep, the Sunday Times used to use language like that back in the day!
Enough backstory for the moment. Here’s the deeply thoughtful and very different sound of the Kalahari Surfer and the song The Generals Walk Free from the 2003 Muti Media album.
Warrick Sony along with his ‘Kalahari Surfers’ released eight albums between 1983 and the new millennium, most of the politically charged social documentaries of South African life at the time. Naturally, this brought him under the scrutiny of the ruling powers that banned his first three albums.
Despite the fact that the government was not amused, they continued to gain success with each album and in 1986 the Surfers performed as a band in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, the Festival des Politischen Liedes in East Berlin, and London, where they received both the critics and the crowd's support.
In 1989 they made the news yet again when the album Bigger than Jesus was banned, not only for the implications of the title (as the Beatles had found out) but also for the use of The Lord’s Prayer. The even bigger news came when they became the first South African band invited to play in the Soviet Union, where they played shows in Moscow, Leningrad, and Riga. Here’s a track from the 2005 Conspiracy of Silence album, Sustainable Development. Enjoy
Since 2000 the Kalahari Surfers have released another 11 albums, numerous compilations and features of mixes worldwide. Their traditional music inspired Dub sound is considered as Word Music, and due to his influence and connections, Warrick Sony, through Shifty Records has become largely responsible for the promotion and growth of World Music in our country.
The band isn’t Warrick’s only creative outlet. Under the name Trans-Sky, he and Brendan Jury (Urban Creep) opened for Massive Attack’s 1989 South African tour. He also worked on an electro-dub album with Greg Hunter of The Orb, and sound engineered for Brian Eno’s masterclasses amongst the huge list of achievements. Just a quick Google of his name and you will find his involvement in music, film and theatre to fine art and everything in between.
In 2018 he completed his Fine Art Masters degree at Michaelis School of Art at the University of Cape Town, specialising in sound art and specifically examining silence and censorship. His final examination work was shown at a solo show at the Michaelis Gallery in Nov 2018
Like so many artists, this is one of those South African legends that very few know the name of, yet has made a huge impact, not only in local music but on the World Music stage.
The final song is the title track from the 2017 Bantu Rejex album featuring the voice and poetry of activist Lesogo Rampolokend. Warrick Sony described the album as some new stuff, some remixes and recaps. And some of the great work revealed previously buried under Surfers obscurities. It’s a great listen. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s mix and will carry on listening to local this weekend! Have a great Saturday.
16th Aug: One of the South African bands that epitomises my time spent living on the KZN South Coast is ‘Boo!’. Remember them? The trio behind the sound aptly named MonkiPunk? Chris Chameleon, Leon Retief and Ampi Omo graced us with their presence in 1997 and before they disbanded in 2004, released seven albums that were perfect for that period of pre and post-millennial madness.
When considering today’s mini-feature I wondered whether to do a piece on Chris Chameleon the man, or to concentrate on the Boo! years, which is what I decided on. Chris Chameleon deserves a feature to himself as anyone who has followed his career over the years will understand. So, back to Boo!
The first we heard from Boo! is the cassette tape release, Banana Flava (Live) in 1998, followed shortly after by Pineapple Flava in early 1999. This is where we pick up our first song for today, and the first song I ever heard from the funhouse that is Boo! Here’s ‘Lucki’.
Something about Boo’s MonkiPunk sound hit a chord with audiences in Europe, and over their seven years they performed over 800 concerts in 17 countries. They even managed to gain a following in the States where they played a series of shows across 14 states. Not bad for a bunch of guys having some irreverent fun.
Of course, Boo! became a staple of the festival circuit and they only steadily increased in stature being chosen to perform with international names like the White Stripes, Limp Bizkit, Coldplay and Cypress Hill. Their 2002 album, Shooting Star, won the South African Music Award (SAMA) for Best Pop Album, and well deserved!.
The second choice of song for today comes from their millennium release, ‘70’s, 80’s, 90’s Naughties’, and the song Champion. Have fun.
To close today’s selection of songs from South Africa’s very own purveyors of MonkiPunk, I’ve chosen a track from the album ‘The Three of Us’, an album that they regrouped for to record in 2010. It was recorded in the Netherlands and produced, directed and edited by Boo’s very own Ampie Omo. Ampie is the man responsible for all the brass instruments, strange sounds and percussion on Boo’s albums.
I have no idea whether we will see any more Boo! albums in the future. As their charismatic founder’s chosen stage name implies, he is totally changeable, so who knows what to expect. Chris has established himself as one of South Africa’s leading talents, as you’ll find out about in a future mini-feature. I promise you a fascinating story! Here’s the song ‘To Do Today’ from the Boo! album ‘The Three of Us’.
I hope you are all having a good weekend and, like me, you are relieved that some of the hectic restrictions of the past 5 months will be eased as from tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your day. Catch you next week. 😎
17th Aug: Loving the Music is one year old this week and the time seems to have flown. It’s been quite a year for everyone and hopefully, our musical community has helped keep you sane over the lockdown months. To celebrate our ‘landmark’, for the next week I will be featuring three songs per day from our archive of 750+ songs that we have built up and enjoyed over the year.
The diversity of artists and styles of music that crossed my path over the past 12-months have made it difficult to choose 21 tracks over seven days that encompasses everything this group is about, but even if I don’t quite honour everything, I think you’ll find some pretty varied bands and songs in my selection.
I’m starting with the man who spent decades supporting greats and especially known as a part of Springsteen’s E-Street Band, Nil’s Lofgren, and the album that features five tracks that he and Lou Reed had worked on prior to Lou death. I featured a selection of songs from the album in early September after hearing it on Chris Prior’s weekly podcast. Since then the album has become a part of my regular musical diet, which is probably why I’m so damned healthy! Here’s your helping of healthy listening, the title track from the album of the same name, Blue with Lou.
The second track from our year-old archives for today comes from the first of our forays into the world of Swamp Music. Last September with slathered ourselves in bug repellent and took a tip-toe through three ‘swampy’ tracks. Nestled between Creedence Clearwater Revival and Tony Joe White was this bit of story-telling from Ray Wylie Hubbard and this tale of the Snake Farm.
Ray Wylie Hubbard is one of those musicians who seem to have been in the background for most of their careers but have still managed to put out a huge catalogue of work. Since 1975 he has released an impressive twenty albums and is a legend in Folk music circles.
The choice of title for his 2015 biography, A Life Well Lived, seems quite apt. Let’s join Ray down on the Snake Farm.
I’m closing day one of the top choices from our group's first year of existence by revisiting August last year when I stumbled across The Main Squeeze. I was looking for interesting cover versions, but nothing quite prepared me for this five-piece who not only specialize in taking rock classics to a new level but have also released some mighty fine originals.
This is no ‘cover band’, so don’t scroll on by. These are reworkings that build on an already great song and take it just that little step further. Mention must be made of vocalist Corey Frye’s range and control, restraining himself when necessary and letting rip just at the right time. Frye's voice is the perfect front for a group of musicians who each excel in their chosen area. Maximillion’s guitar work is up there with Jimmy Page and Smiley’s keyboards are sublime.
If you missed out on The Main Squeeze when I first featured them, you have some catching up to do. There is a tasty selection of clips on YouTube for you to binge on, so binge away! Here’s the Led Zep classic, No Quarter. I hope you like the idea of spending the week highlighting some of the tracks and artists that have made a huge impact on me since starting this community a year ago. I’ll catch you tomorrow with some more. 😎
18 Aug: This week I’m celebrating our group’s first year on Facebook with a daily selection of tracks chosen from our archive of 750+ songs that have been featured over the last twelve months. It isn’t so much a ‘Top 21’, than great examples of the wide range of musical genres that we explore daily.
Today I’m revisiting some of the awesome examples of World Music we have enjoyed, starting with the band that placed Mongolia firmly on the modern musical map. Of course, I am talking of The Hu Band. The word Hu means Human in the local language, so it is no wonder that they have called their style of World Metal Rock, Hunu Rock.
It may be the traditional instruments that they play, the Hun battle-cries and poetry that they weave into their compositions or their sheer musical prowess that make them so listenable. But it isn’t just their sound; these guys are fun to watch as their beautifully produced videos show. Even if you haven’t a trace of Mongolian blood in your ancestry, you can’t help but feel the message and the power behind their songs.
Although they only formed in 2016 the band have reached global audiences and been acknowledged by their government for their contribution to music, being considered ambassadors for their country. It’s not often that this kind of status is given to a metal band, and shows that whatever the genre, music can break down any barrier. Here’s the track that we featured last September, Wolf Totem. Release your inner-Hun and enjoy.
To carry on our birthday week celebration I’ve selected this gem from our November archives. This video features two of Norway’s top World Music acts.
Wardruna is well known on the World Music stages. Dedicated to creating musical renditions of Norse cultural and esoteric traditions, they make significant use of Nordic historical and traditional instruments, with powerful performances that have led to the release of four albums.
Joining them on this track is another of Norway’s big musical talents, Aurora. When she first graced the Loving the Music site she made quite a stir. With her elfin looks, quirky gestures and remarkable vocal skills, she effortlessly takes both the traditional and contemporary music genres in her stride.
Here the two Norwegian musical giants perform the song Helvegen. It is a traditional song about death, dying and remembering those who have passed. Although not the best video quality, this clip shows the power of their talent and stage presence perfectly. It was filmed at the Bergenhus Fortress in Norway in 2018. Enjoy.
Closing today’s selection from our archives is another World Music ensemble that amazed me, especially when I researched their backstory. It’s the perfect track to celebrate the kind of diversity we have explored during our first year on Facebook.
I came across Bizimkilər in November and was struck by how adaptable music can be. The band was a project formed at the time of the Azerbaijan Eurovision final as the brainchild of Seyfulla Mustafayev, who decided to introduce Azerbaijani flair to some of the biggest pop songs of recent times.
It wasn’t an easy task as many of the local musicians he approached were horrified with the idea of playing western music. Music is sacred in Azerbaijan, but Seyfulla persisted and Bizimkilər was born.“Everyone knows our ethnic music but Eurovision created a new resonance. I wanted to show our guests from different parts of Europe that our victory in Eurovision  was no accident; music has deep roots here. I also wanted to give international music to Azerbaijanis in the language of their own instruments”, explained Seyfulla in an interview.
Whatever the initial response, the musicians and performers certainly took their task seriously, while letting go of some of the restrictions that adhering to traditional music principles sometimes imposes on creativity. Here’s Bizimkilər with the Enigma song, Return to Innocence.
Thanks so much for joining me on this second day of birthday week celebrations. I hope you’ve enjoyed today's World Music selection. I’ll be back tomorrow with three more tracks from our one-year-old archives. Catch you then.
19th Aug: t’s the third day of celebrating our group’s first birthday by featuring a few tracks from our ever-growing archives. Today I’ve decided to keep the mood happy and upbeat with a bit of Ska, a touch of Electro-Swing and some of sexiest Tango music ever performed.
I’m going to start in Australia when last November we first featured the Cat Empire. I really like their Ska / Funk / Latin rhythms and the sense of fun they bring to their videos. They’ve been around since 1999, producing a modest eight albums, but each packed with great songs and tight arrangements.
Within three years they had gained a solid following, having played most of the Jazz festivals. What was originally a three-piece soon expanded and now their shows are quite a spectacle. In addition to the six core members, fronted by Felix Riebi, they are joined by a six-piece brass section and a dance troupe. Talk about being prepared for all eventualities! Here’s the 1999 song Hello Hello from their self-titled debut album.
The second video from our archives is from one of the top Electro-Swing outfits around and has a mind-blowing dance routine to match. I’ve featured quite a bit of this musical genre over the last year and this is a great example as to why. With this song we are heading to Germany to spend time with Club Des Belugas.
There are only two core members of the band and they are joined by various combinations of jazz musicians and singers according to the song or performance. They formed in 2002 and released their debut album that year. It’s popularity on the club circuit resulted in a succession of ten more excellent releases over the next 18 years.
Their sound, sometimes called Nu-Jazz or Lounge, has taken them around the world with hundreds of live performances under their collective belts. I’ve always believed that music can break down barriers, and their 2007 invitation to tour and play a series of concerts in the People’s Republic of China was a huge success.
If you think you may have heard them before but not sure where it could have been from one of the many commercials that their music has been used for. Here’s the track that we first featured last November, Some Like It Hot.
In today’s opening post I promised you the sexiest tango music ever performed, and here it is. Most music-lovers know of Gotan Project, the French group who took the art of the tango to a whole new level. I’ve always thought that those who can’t feel the passion of tango, possibly lack a soul. This birthday week dip into our archives wouldn’t be complete without this clip.
When Argentinian Eduardo Markoff arrived in France to promote South American style tango I don’t know if he knew what was soon to happen. His meeting with Phillipe Cohen Solal and Christof H. Muller resulted in a delicious combination of tango and electronica that took the music world by storm.
I’ve chosen one of my all-time favourite songs of theirs that I was happy to share last November, Época. The track was featured in a few adverts, but that commercial exposure hasn’t tarnished the sheer brilliance of the song and arrangement.
This is a live performance from the Casino de Paris. What starts as a beautifully played tango elevates to an even more sensual level when Phillipe Cohen Solal makes his entrance and starts to lay down his subtle style of beats. This magical performance never fails to move me and I hope you enjoy revisiting it with me today.
Thanks for joining me with today’s recap of some of the wonderful tracks we’ve shared during our first year of being. Keep warm music-lovers. Catch you tomorrow. 😎
20th Aug: I have chosen three very special songs from our archives to celebrate today’s contribution to our birthday week. There are some legends of the music world that just continue to deliver and today we have three of them; Robert Plant, Robbie Robertson and Bob Dylan.
One of the first musicians whose birthday our group honoured was the rock legend, Robert Plant. Today he is celebrating his 72nd birthday and we are revisiting the song Carry Fire from the 2017 album of the same name.
Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin’s influence on rock music over their 12-year career between 1968 – 80 was huge. I remember when Whole Lotta Love blew our conservative South African minds in 1969. It was the first ‘Underground’ song that most of us had ever heard. I remember 16-year-old me impatiently listening to the usual bubblegum fodder that was the Springbok Radio Hit Parade, waiting for ‘that’ intro to take us all away.
After Led Zep disbanded Robert Plant almost gave up music to train as a Rudolph Steiner education system teacher, however, education’s loss was the music’s gain, and he has gone on to produce eleven solo albums, with the twelfth release, Digging Deep – Subterannea, planned for later this year. Long may you give us great music – happy birthday Mr Plant!
Here’s the song Carry Fire from the 2017 album of the same name.
I started the musical year by featuring a selection of really great songs from a man that I have so much respect for; not only as a top-flight musician but also as an activist, film score composer and author. I’m talking Robbie Robertson.
Prior to his solo career, he was, of course, lead guitarist and primary songwriter for The Band, Bob Dylan’s favourite backers and highly respected amongst their peers; respect which has seen their induction into both the American and Canadian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Robertson has also been honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Songwriters.
As much as I loved The Band and everything they eschewed of that special musical era, Its Robbie Robertson’s solo albums that are firmly entrenched in my mind and my playlists. He has a way with melody and lyrics that perfectly captures a scene, an event or just a fleeting moment. His albums to raise awareness of the plight of the American Indians, Music for the Native Americans (1994) and Contact from the Underworld of Redboy (1998) are masterpieces of songwriting.
Robbie Robertson has also composed and directed numerous film scores, many for Martin Scorsese. Recently he was musical director and producer/musician for the blockbuster hit, The Irishman. When asked about his relationship with Scorsese, he said: “Martin’s a frustrated musician, and I guess I’m a frustrated filmmaker, so it was a good connect”. Indeed it was.
The song I started the year with is reminiscent of his hit, Somewhere Down the Crazy River, here’s Shanghai Blues from his 2019 album Sinematic.
To finish today’s selection of songs from our archives to celebrate our birthday week is a release from the Granddaddy of the Folk/Rock world. A man who's probably been nominated or won every major award numerous times, including, of course, the Nobel Award for Literature, Bob Dylan.
In June we saw the release of his album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, and one of the songs I featured was the brilliant False Prophet. At 79-years-old he is the oldest musician to release an album of original songs. It’s a remarkable achievement from one of the music world’s legendary characters, and although he isn’t the young (and often parodied) voice of rebellion anymore. His topics still deliver a punch.
On tonight’s final track, False Prophet, Dylan sings ‘I’m the first amongst equals, second to none’; I think that’s a pretty good assessment of the man. Thanks, as always, for joining me for tonight's recap from our year-old archives. Our birthday week is proving to be a lot of fun. Catch you tomorrow. 😎
21st Aug: Our birthday week selection of songs from our archives is heading toward a close with just nine more tracks until we get back to normal. Today I have chosen a couple of songs from the incredible selection of local music that we’ve featured over the last year. Like our country, our music is a diverse mix of cultures as today's mix will show.
I’m starting on a jazzy theme with a song from a highly respected multi-talented musician who has graced the pages of our group a few times, David Leadbetter. I’ve decided on the track that we featured last October, Clovelly.
Dave has collaborated with, and played alongside, some of South Africa’s biggest Jazz talents during his career and this track shows his talents as a member of Deep South. Along with genius percussionist, Ronan Skillen and Bjorn Meyer on bass, this session was recorded in Bern in 2014 and perfectly showcases his incredible talent.😎
Birthday Week (Fri) Pt 2: Last November Sean Koch brought his touch of Cape Town magic to the group with his song Good Times Keep Rolling. As we’re celebrating our birthday week with songs from our archives, I couldn’t think of a more apt song.
Why it is that so many of our great musician hail from Cape Town, It could be the magic of Table Mountain, or the changing blues of the different oceans, or the scent of the fynbos, or the stunning sunsets, or, or, or.... Whatever the combination of reasons, Sean Koch captures the essence of the Mother City in his music perfectly.
Here’s Sean Koch with a whole lot of friends having a ball and keeping the good times rolling on the beaches of Kommetjie. Enjoy.
Finishing today’s birthday week selection from our archives is the perfect local artist for the occasion, Msaki. I have been raving about her since first coming across her remarkable voice and lyrical genius in September last year, but am going to close with what has become one of my favourites of hers that we featured lot long ago, Fetch Your Life.
I have covered Msaki’s story in quite some depth, so am not going to preach to regurgitate old news, but if you aren’t already a fan I strongly recommend that you get onto whatever musical streaming service you prefer and track her down. I can suggest you start with her masterpiece of an album, Zaneliza: How the Water Moves, and work from there. You won’t be sorry.
It’s Friday again and the weekend looms, so I wish you all a happy weekend. I’ll be winding down this birthday week celebration over the next two days, so watch this space... 😎
I hope that you find these weekly recaps of Loving the Music mini-features make your musical world a little easier. Happy exploring! Join our Facebook Community here for a music group who does more than just post a link to a song.
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The Design Train is a social media marketing company run by music-lover Andrew Knapp, who also hosts the Loving the Music Facebook pages. The Design Train specializes in content creation on a wide variety of topics designed to compliment the client's objectives.
Words © Andrew Knapp
The author does not own the copyright of any of the videos used in the article