Loving the Music - The Sound of September 8th - 14th
Opening the second week of September we checked in with Suzanne Vega and hunted down Sade before hitting the global dance floors with our local heroes of EDM, GoldFish. We also paid tribute to the legendary Gary Moore, looked at Falling Mirror's strange career and ended up with a trio of musicians from the Shoreline Songs stable of artists. I'd call that a pretty good week!
Image: GoldFish in full EDM swing
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.
Sep 8th - 14th: Musicians Featured
Suzanne Vega - GoldFish - Sade - Gary Moore - Falling Mirror
Doc Maclean - Faye & Wren - Dax Butler
8th Sept: There is no confusing Suzanne Vega’s voice with anyone else's. The musical world embraced her distinctive brand of neo-Folk in 1985 when her self-titled debut album hit the airwaves. Although we may not have realised at the time, this was the first introduction to a lady who has quietly pushed her musical boundaries during a career that has spanned 35+ years.
There was a seriousness in her music and choice of song topics that she managed to deliver in a restrained and almost unemotional manner. Her debut album reached platinum status which was helped in part by the video of 'Marlene on the Wall' being on the playlist rotation of both MTV and VHS.
I’ve decided to chose three tracks from Ms Vega that show just how versatile she is and how her musical styles have adapted over the years. The first song is from her second release, Solitude Standing (1987). This was a landmark album and contained possibly her biggest international hit, Luka. The song is written from the perspective of an abused boy, a topic seldom addressed at the time.
The album also contained the brilliant acapella version of Tom’s Diner which was subsequently remixed as a dance track by the duo DNA. It shot to the top of the charts and has the honour of being the first song to be tested during the creation of the MP3 format, giving Susan Vega the title ‘Mother of the MP3’. The choice for the first track was hard but I decided on that huge hit, Luka.
We pick up Suzanne Vega’s story in 1992 with the release of a very different album, 99.9F°. Although there are some traces of folk on this 4th album, it is also heavy in Dance beats and Industrial sounds. Despite the change from her previous folk-driven image, over half a million copies sold and the song Blood Makes Noise peaked at #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock charts.
A couple of the tracks from the three albums she released over the '90s were picked up and used in movies like Pretty in Pink, The Truth About Cats & Dogs, Closer and Dead Man Walking. Amongst various collaborations and projects, she found time to work with Joe Jackson on the concept album Heaven & Hell, based on the 7 Deadly Sins. To finish the decade Suzanne Vega’s book, The Passionate Eye: The Collected Writings of Suzanne Vega, was published by Avon books.
I decided on the next track as it shows how unafraid Suzanne was to explore beyond what people expected of her. Here’s Blood Makes Noise.
We jump forward to 2014 and a track from Suzanne Vega's 8th album, evocatively named ‘Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles’. After the normal output of Collections and Greatest Hits releases that were necessary to fulfil recording contracts, this was her first album of new material in seven years.
She put the boot on the other foot with this album. Although she had been sampled by other artists, this saw her own first attempt at sampling by using 50 Cents song Candy Shop on tonight’s closing track, "Don't Uncork What You Can't Contain”. Apart from being known as The Mother of the MP3, she was also the first major recording artist to perform live on the internet based virtual-world game, Half-Life.
The last offering we saw from Suzanne Vega was in 2016 when she released Lover, Beloved: Songs from an Evening with Carson McCullers, based on the play of the same name. I’m sure that every few years there will be another surprising offer from this remarkably talented lady. As promised, here’s Don't Uncork What You Can't Contain’ from ‘Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles’ 😎
9th Sept: Goldfish is the story of two Cape Town guys who embraced the world of EDM and, in return, were embraced straight back. Their incorporation of Jazz and African vibes in their feel-good brand of Dance music has gone on to entertain crowds from Cape Town to Ibiza and with good reason.
Dominic Peters and David Poole met while studying Jazz in Cape Town and playing House parties at night. These mild-mannered students started laying down some tracks with one saxophone, a double bass and a couple of synths, and in 2006 the release of the debut album, Caught in the Loop, which caught the attention not only of the fans, but also some big names in the EDM world.
With the release of the Perceptions of Pascha album in 2008, they set a record for the most SAMA (South African Music Award) nominations, ever. Of the eight categories they were in the running for they won Best Engineer and Best Dance Album, and world-recognition when they were nominated (but didn’t win) for the Best Alternative Album at the MTV Africa Award in 2008.
I am a sucker for good dance music and often slap on a Goldfish playlist, or one of the excellent full mixes that are available on YouTube and Spotify as background music to bop around the house too. It stands to reason that if I am a Goldfish fan, there must be more of you out there to join my aquarium today.
(Image: GoldFish with Nelson Mandela)
I’m starting today’s threesome with a track from the Perceptions of Pascha album. It was the first track of theirs that I threw myself around a dancefloor to, and it still puts a spring in my day 12 years later - here’s Fort Knox. Even non-EDM fans have to admit that this is a kicker of a song.
Goldfish may not have won their first MTV Africa nomination, but that changed in 2014 when they were named the Best Pop Group in the 2014 awards. This level of recognition has seen our two local Capetonians open for artists like Fat Boy Slim, Stereo MC's, Faithless and Paul Van Dyk.
They became known to millions of Americans when their song ‘A New Way to Roll’ was used in the KIA Hamster advert, something that only helped boost their success They have built up a cult-like following in the club scene, with fans following them around the world to catch their performances at the major festivals. And what a performance it is, with a live mix of vocals, synths, keyboards combined with their signature instruments, sax and double bass. It has been said that within the opening number, Goldfish can turn a sedate dancefloor into something resembling a crowd at a football match.
Their regular residencies at the legendary Pascha Ibiza has provided a kind of break from their hectic touring schedule and has seen them perform alongside Will.I.Am, Basement Jaxx, Paul Oakenfold and Faithless.
Here’s a track from the 2007 album ‘3 Second Memory’ and a song that is a parody on the DJ Culture, complete with a video that continues the adventures of Goldfish Man, and his rivalry with Dog Man. This is ‘One Million Views’.
I have to bite my tongue when some self-professed music lover says that club music is rubbish and for people who can’t play a real instrument. After all, you don’t need talent to play ‘that’ kind of ‘doef-doef’ music. I could write volumes as a reply, but is it worth it? I know that there are enough of us out there who have room in their lives for all genres of music, and appreciate how clever and talented these two local heroes are.
To finish today’s mini-feature I have chosen a track from 2107 album ‘Late Night People’. It’s a butt-shaker of a track and happily comes complete with an animated video following the ongoing rivalry between Goldfish Man and Dog Man as they compete for the Top DJ award.
To quote a review on duo’s Facebook page: “Their burnished grooves are rooted in pure pop pleasure, hooking even the most cautious listener onto the dance floor (without next-day regret). After seven years basing themselves between Cape Town and Ibiza, Dom and Dave have settled in San Diego to concentrate on the burgeoning US market. A consistent string of chart-topping hits — and a live show that has seen countless festival appearances from Coachella to Glastonbury — has helped Goldfish become one of the most enduring and influential groups in live electronic music” Not bad for a pair of mild-mannered music students from Cape Town! Here’s ‘Talk to Me’. 😎
10th Sept: Whenever I hear one of Sade’s songs from her ‘80s albums I can’t help but wonder what became of her. This is a lady that dominated the world of female vocals with songs like Diamond Life, Smooth Operator and Your Love is King, who just seemed to have dropped off the radar. Prompted by a post from one of my FB friends I decided to have a look at Sade’s career in today’s threesome of songs.
After having found moderate success as a fashion designer and model, Sade Adu joined the band, Pride, in 1980. She and Pride’s saxophonist/guitarist formed a songwriting partnership and would sometimes play their own sets at Pride gigs. The word of this new duo started to spread and they left the band and started their own band, Sade, named for their singer. By the time they played their first gig at London’s Heaven nightclub, despite not having a single, they had become so popular that the club turned away 1000 at the door.
Her song, Smooth Operator, attracted record companies like bees around a honey pot, but Sade decided to sign with Epic Records in 1983 after her debut US performance. The first album, 'Diamond Life’, took just six-weeks to record and shot up the charts worldwide with international sales of over six million copies. It became one of the top-selling debut recordings of the '80s and the best-selling debut ever by a British female vocalist. What a way to start a career! We start today with that mega-hit, Smooth Operator
Between 1982 and the end of the millennium Sade continued their run of successes. 1985 saw the release of the second album, Promise, which peaked at #1 in the UK and US selling over 4 million copies, it was deemed 4 x Platinum.1986 saw the band win a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Sade stretched her acting wings in 1986 when she made her debut in the film based on the Colin MacInnes book, Absolute Beginners, about life in 1950’s London, adding yet another string to the bow of this multi-talented lady.
Two more albums were to come out of this period. Stronger Than Pride (1988) and Love Deluxe (1992) both received the expected commercial success and it seemed that Sade was set to produce a top-selling album every couple of years. The Best of Sade album was inevitable, and in 1992 it too hurtled up the charts. And then things went very quiet on the Sade front.
Following the release of Love Deluxe, the band had a seven-year hiatus during which Sade Adu came under media scrutiny with unfounded rumours of depression and addiction. During this period she also gave birth to her son. Here’s the second song for today, ‘No Ordinary Love’ from Love Deluxe album.
(Image: Sade Adu with her band, Sade - nearly as attractive as her!)
The turn of the millennium saw the return of Sade and the album Lovers Rock in Nov 2000. None of the Sade magic seemed to have waned and the album achieved multi-million sales earning them a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album in 2002. The single ‘By Your Side’ receive a nomination as Best Female Vocal Pop Performance but lost to Nellie Furtado's ‘I’m Like a Bird’. The album prompted a tour, their first since 1994 that was initially set at 30 shows, but was extended for eight weeks due to ticket demand and spawned their ‘Lover’s Live' album.
Lovers Rock was followed by another hiatus while Sade took time off to raise her son, and rarely made public appearances. In 2002 she was awarded an OBE for her services to British music. The only recording from his period was a contribution of a remix to an album, Red, Hot & Riot, to honour the Nigerian musician, Fela Kuti.
The old adage that ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’ seemed to be the case when the 2010 album, Soldier of Love, was released and shot up the charts within a week of pressing. Soldier of Love became the band's first album to debut at number one and the band's second album to peak at number-one on the chart. Consequently, the band became the act with the longest time between number-one albums. At the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards in 2011, the title track won Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and led to another sell-out tour... which led to yet another hiatus in the career of Sade.
Once again, Sade seemed to disappear into the shadows until the acoustic ballad, Flower of the Universe, was released for the soundtrack of the Disney movie, ‘A Wrinkle in Time’, and a song named ‘The Big Unknown’ for Steve McQueen's movie, ‘Widows’.
Sade very seldom grants interviews anymore and last heard, she had bought a cottage in the English countryside that she planned to restore. Time will tell if there are any more albums to delight the fans, but until then we’ll just have to be content with her extensive catalogue of hits. 😎
11th Sept: Gary Moore is one of those guitarists who set the bar when it comes to evocative lead work. There are few music-lovers who haven’t held their collective breath during the sustained notes in the Parisienne Walkways or Still Got the Blues guitar solos. I have decided to celebrate this Friday by playing a couple of his iconic songs.
Gary’s interest in music was nurtured by his father, a music-promoter who ran a local ballroom in Northern Ireland. He received his first guitar when he was10-years old, and although he was left-handed, taught himself to play right-handed. He formed a schoolboy band, the Beat Boys who mainly played Beatles covers and it was at this time he befriended another future huge name, Rory Gallagher.
His professional career began with the 60’s group Skid Row where he played alongside someone he would form a close friendship and working relationship throughout his career, Phil Lynott. After a while both Gary and Phil left Skid Row, Gary to follow his solo career and Phil to form the band, Thin Lizzy. Gary played with Thin Lizzy on numerous occasions over the years, touring and recording with them until 1979 when the Rock n Roll lifestyle was affecting his health and views on music.
Gary Moore’s first solo album, ‘Grinding Stone’, wasn’t a commercial success and he had to wait until the release of ‘Back to the Streets’ in 1978, and it’s single ‘Parisienne Walkways’, featuring Phil Lynott on vocals and bass, to give him his first hit. It became one of his signature songs – and that’s where we are starting the mix for today.
The ‘80s saw Gary Moore take on more of a hard rock feel with the albums G-Force and Dirty Fingers. His 5th album, Run for Cover spawned the hit ‘Out in the Fields’ on which he and Phil Lynott performed. It was his last collaboration with Lynott who passed away in 1987 of heart failure at the age of 36.
His long-time friend's death was a wake-up call for Gary who dedicated his 6th album of Celtic inspired blues/rock, Wild Frontier, to his fellow Irish musician. The album was a success with the single ‘Over the Hills and Far Away’ charting in nine countries. 1989 saw the release of the After the War album which went gold – but there was a change brewing.
Despite his run of successes, Gary Moore was bored with his own music, telling Thin Lizzy’s Eric Bell that after listening to his own albums he thought they were “the biggest load of f**k**g shite he had ever heard” and he had "lost his musical self-respect". What some may see as a musical mid-life crisis brought about an important change for both him and his fans. Let’s take a musical break before picking up the story. Here’s a track from the Wild Frontier album, The Loner. Gary Moore’s dissolution with his music resulted in the return to his Blues roots, and the superb album ‘Run for Cover’ in 1990. The idea for the album was born while on a promo tour for the ‘After the War’ album. Gary would often play Blues to himself to while away the hours in his dressing room. The band’s bassist, Bob Daisley, jokingly suggested that he should do a full Blues album.
The change in musical style saw also saw a change in image, with Moore smartening himself up for videos and live performances. In his words, he was sick of being "all dolled up like some guy in Def Leppard". Run for Cover became Gary Moore’s biggest selling album, with the title track being the only single of his to chart on the Billboard Hot 10.
Gary Moore continued his Blues style with several studio releases over the following 15 years. One of these was the touching ‘Blues for Greeny’, the 1995 tribute to his friend and mentor, Peter Green. The end of the millennium saw him experiment with electronica on the ‘Dark Day’s of Paradise’ and ‘A Different Beat’ albums.
The 2000s saw him stick to the Blues with five more releases before his unexpected death from a heart attack at the age of 58 while on holiday in Spain. Gary Moore is rightly referred to as a virtuoso and just as he was influenced by Peter Green and Clapton, so he has influenced numerous Blues guitarists and will continue to do so.
There is only one song I could possibly choose to complete today’s mini-feature – Still Got the Blues. 😎
12th Sept: Choosing what information to share about one of the strangest bands that South Africa has produced was quite a job. Although Falling Mirror only released four albums and a couple of compilations as a band, their backstory would make a lengthy and fascinating book.
Formed in Cape Town in 1978 by cousins Allan Faull and Nielen Marais, both black sheep of their respective families, who had been sent to stay with their strict Granny Anne Faull, the only person who their families thought could keep them in check. This brought the cousins closer than they already were.
Allan, already a good guitarist, along with poet Nielen started writing songs together, but it was years before they found the confidence to give a demo cassette to South Africa’s legendary music producer, Tully McCully, who was impressed by what he heard. But I am getting ahead of myself.
It’s important that I give you a little background behind the two protagonists of today’s mini-feature as it will give you a deeper understanding of their music. Allan was the son of a strict and unapproachable vet who had his son’s medical career planned out in his mind. Although his parents gave in to his musical interests, it was under the condition that Allan took up boxing (his father’s passion). He did so, and when he was beaten in the opening round of his first tournament, the public humiliation was deep and long-lasting, as was the animosity between father and son.
Allan formed a schoolboy band ‘The Runaways’ with some of his extended family, playing Shadows covers. The Runaways became ‘The End’ and they saved up enough to have a handful of singles printed to give to friends and family. After his national service, Allan entered UCT to do a BSc degree, where he met a special girl and discovered the world of drugs and Rock n Roll in quick succession.
By 1970 he had dropped out of university which caused the family scandal that saw him being banished to Granny Anne’s house. I’ll get to Nielen’s story in the second part, but in the meantime here’s the song ‘Making Out with Granny’ from their 1979 debut, Zen Boulders. The song is the tale of a gun-wielding granny and her nephew Will, and not the ‘making out’ that many thought when the song received airtime on local radio!
We covered a little of Allan Faull’s backstory in the first part of today’s mini-feature to help you understand the strange background of these Cape Town lads that led to their odd song topics and cult-like status. In this section, I’ll fill you in on Nielen's story.
Nielen Marais (descendent of famed SA author Eugene Marais) was the youngest of three children. His father, Louis, had been detained in a Czech POW camp during WWII and would regale the young Nielen with stories of the war. Louis was never the same after his war experiences, and when he passed away in 1958, Nielen’s mother, who had already lost two brothers, compensated for her losses by pouring every bit of energy and attention into her youngest son.
The dyslexic and slightly phobic Nielen didn’t like school and was allowed to stay at home where he would read prolifically. With the encouragement of his mother and the family gardener, Johnny Marais, he started writing poetry and stories and attended RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) in London. Nielen's first exposure to singing was providing harmonies for ‘The Runaways’ and lead vocals for The End’s single.
Nielen’s ‘soul mate’ was cousin Allan’s younger brother, Vere. Nielen and Vere began a reign of uncontrolled excess and misadventures during their young teenage years that resulted in them being jointly expelled from the exclusive Bishops High School
This culminated in an almost suicidal drinking binge that left Vere with premature and fatal cirrhosis that killed him in 1986. Nielen was banished to Granny Anne’s house where he was joined by Allan a short while later.
The relationship between Allan and Nielen was close. Allan was introverted, totally lacking in any self-esteem, and already a self-professed failure. Nielen, by contrast, was confident, brash, motivated and determined. Allan’s musical ideas and Nielen’s lyrical prowess gave them both a new way to express themselves.
We’ll pick up the band’s story in the final part of today’s posts, but in the meantime, here’s the song, The San Diago Sniping Event, which was written about the same incident that Bob Geldof’s ‘I don’t like Mondays’ portrayed about a young girl who turned a weapon on her schoolmates.
Now that you have an idea of the players, to conclude today’s Falling Mirror mini-feature we'll have a brief look at their career. Both Allan and Nielen had known Tully for quite a while and Allan had spent some time playing in the original McCully’s Workshop line-up. Tully knew that there was a market for the cousin's style of strangeness, and offered to produce an album.
The debut, 'Zen Boulders' was recorded in 1979 and Tully went to work previewing it to selected influential listeners, but wanted someone who could take the band’s sound to a new level, so he contacted Benjy Mudie.
Scottish born Benjy had a love affair with SA music and as the A&R man for WEA, had a lot of clout. Benjy was impressed by Allan’s guitar work in particular and compared the duo to Mark Knopfler's guitar excellence combined with the fractured trippiness of Syd Barrett. Benjy signed the band to WEA.
The response to 'Zen Boulders' was mixed and sales were slow. The New-Wave music fans of the day loved the stoned energy and diverse range of styles and sounds on the album, and it gained a cult-status.
The music critics were divided and confused. It didn’t help that Allan wouldn’t play any live gigs, In fact, it was only in 1986 that he was convinced to perform the band’s one and only live gig at Kalk Bay’s famed Brass Bell to support the 'Johnny Calls the Chemist' album.
Tully and Benjy decided to get Falling Mirror back into the studio to record a second album, 'The Storming of The Loft' was released in 1980 with a more mature feel and some commercially-inspired tracks like Neutron Bop. As good as it was, the album failed to get the attention or the success that WEA had expected, but critics and fans loved it. They returned to the studio to begin work on their third album, 'Fantasy Kid' which was released in 1981 but produced no singles.
The band fell apart for a while, but returned with the 1996 album, Johnny Calls the Chemist. It is known as the most disturbing and complex concept albums to have been produced in South Africa but produced the bands only #1 hit. They recorded two more albums and a released a handful of compilations but nothing matched the sheer impact that the saga of Johnny made on the listeners.
I am leaving Falling Mirror’s story here. Allan Faull sadly passed away from a heart attack in 2013 while recording a new album. The band bravely played on until 2016 when they called it a day. I would like to thank Rock.co.za for their in-depth article which I used as a reference for today's theme. 😎
14th Sept: Whenever I want to catch up what is happening on the Cape Town music front there are two resources I hit first, one is Rootspring Music, the other Shoreline Songs.
To start this week I have chosen three tracks from very different musicians that are a part of the Shoreline Songs catalogue. If you don’t yet know about Shoreline Songs Youtube channel is full of great clips.
Shoreline Songs is based in the village of Kalk Bay and represent musicians from a wide genre of music and provide music for filmmakers, music supervisors, ad agencies, and any other industry that may need their personalised and highly professional services.
I’m starting with a wonderful Bluesman who, although Canadian born, has a passionate affair with South Africa, Doc Maclean. Some of you might have caught one of his shows during his extended SA tour which ended in him being stranded here for the duration of the lockdown. If you did, I'm sure that you were blown away by his style of Blues.
Today's first video was shot ‘on the fly’ in the Silvermine Reserve by Robin Auld and features Doc Maclean with a song from the upcoming release, I'm not sure when we can expect to hear the full album as it’s still in the process of being mixed and mastered by Nashville’s Grammy-winning Ray Kennedy, and Steve Earles.
Having read some of Doc's powerful prose and pertinent comments on his Facebook page, I can report that I don't think he minded having to extend his South African stay
Why, if I’m doing a feature on local music, am I starting with Canadian musician? Simple! While the Doc was awaiting his homeward journey he came to an agreement with Shoreline to represent him on this side of the world. A great decision on Doc Maclean’s part, and happy news for Robin Auld and the Shoreline Songs team. Here’s a taste of things to come - Doc Mclean and the song Slipstream.
The second musical act from the Shoreline Songs stable is a duo that has been featured on our page before. Faye Oakes and Wren Hinds, otherwise known as Faye and Wren, create a style of soft neo-Folk that can only be described as ethereal.
Wren is half of The Hind’s Brother’s duo who received a SAMA nomination for their superb album, Ocean of Milk, and hails from the KZN South Coast. I remember him as a very quiet and polite young boy when I lived on the coast and sometimes visited his mother, artist Dianne Erasmus. With father, Kevin Hinds, (who older members will remember from the local scene in the ’70s and ’80s), and step-brother Craig Hinds of Watershed fame (Indigo Girl), it is little wonder that both Wren and his brother Aiden were drawn to a musical career.
He and Faye met when at the Johannesburg Scool of the Arts in 2006 and have formed a musical union that can only be achieved in deep friendship. Together they have released two full-length albums, Volume 1 in 2013, and the self-titled Faye & Wren that today’s second song comes from. Here’s the song Russian River. Float away...
To close today's theme I am sharing a video from a musician who I am happy to see has returned to the South African music world, Dax Butler.
This East Rand boytjie was brought up on a healthy diet of Rock n Roll and Soul music before he hit the road playing around the UK and USA where he honed his guitar and songwriting skills. And what skills they are. Dax’s lyrics have the feel of Tom Waits, Dylan and Leonard Choen – all the ‘usual suspects’ to draw from when you want to create a masterpiece or two. On returning to SA Dax played in numerous local bands.
After a ‘dark time’ of substance abuse in the ‘90s, Dax hit back, kicked the demons, and has released a few excellent albums. His song, My Friend Kevin, received its fair share of ‘thumbs ups’ a few months ago when I featured it on Loving the Music, and I think you’ll like this one as well. Here’s Dax Butler and the extremely talented Willem Moller with a casual live take of the song Vigilante / Plans on Hold.
It is always a pleasure sharing local music clips and helping spread the word. Unfortunately, I don't know if we will be able to carry on doing so when Facebook’s new rulings on sharing music videos come into effect on Oct 1st, but until then, keep Loving the Music. 😎
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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Words © Andrew Knapp
The author does not own the copyright of any of the videos used in the article