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cdcover AFRICA'S NOT FOR SISSIES - SYD KITCHEN [No Budget]

10 December 2001 One of the items included in the limited edition 'Packed up and Ready to Go' parcel that includes the new offering from Syd's Kitchen is a small bag of red African earth. This is really apt as musically this album conjures up images of African plains, of a timelessness, of lying under a boabab tree under a clear blue sky, gazing across the veldt, at one with the land and being enveloped with a profound sense of peace. In the distance, buck frolic while overhead... sorry I just had to go turn off the CD for a moment as this paragraph would have gone on forever, that's how strong the effect of the music is.

Syd Kitchen (no relation to Koos Kombuis) is a hugely talented songwriter, a hugely talented guitarist and a hugely overlooked South African musician. I must admit that I have been guilty of overlooking this gentle gigantic talent as I only recently heard the awesome 'Waiting for the Heave' (1985) and the equally wonderful 'City Child' (1995) and now the word Kitchen means a lot more to me than the pile of dirty dishes stacked up in the sink. It is now for me a mark of great quality.

Listen to the achingly beautiful 'Settler' or the movingly simplistic 'Elliot' with its refrain of 'It's so amazing living in paradise' and one cannot fail to be in some way enchanted by the sheer brilliance of it. This is an aural craft market of an album.

But it's not just the music that makes this album work. The lyrics are insightful and poignant. It talks of the wonders of Africa and at the same time the horrors. In light of the recent murder of Marike de Klerk, the latter is eerily stark in the line from the title track 'You know the woman next door, they found her lying, lying on the kitchen floor, she'd been dead for days.' In contrast to this you have lines like 'I offer love, I ask redemption' from 'Settler' and 'He one with the Earth, she set him free, He got more friends than a leaf on a tree' from 'Elliot'. He has struck at the very core of the New South Africa and everything it has to offer.

Syd has the red dust of Africa running through his veins and a finger firmly on the pulse of a nation going through the birth pains of being born again. He is the hippest of hippies and has produced an album of extreme beauty and social awareness. This is a profound and important album, ignore it at your peril.

A light breeze wafts thought the long grass, stirring it into life and disturbing the butterflies and grasshoppers. A herd of elephant saunter lazily by... (Yup I've pressed play again).

John Samson, London, UK

Buy this CD from One World http://www.oneworld.co.za/index.cfm?bec=4321

 

cdcover AFRICAN DOPE VOLUME 1 - VARIOUS ARTISTS [AFRICAN DOPE]

3 December 2001 It was a certain Honey B who pollinated this joint release by young Cape Town label African Dope and major label Sony. The fruitful results are proudly displayed on this first compilation of the eclectic talents currently passing the musical pipe around the African Dope studios in Gardens. During the '90's, Fletcher, the dreadlocked bear-like half of the AD team, found himself in the midst of the burgeoning Bristol scene, when Massive Attack, Portishead ("It's like calling a band Bellville!" he explains), Tricky and the rest of that influential posse made their various marks on the emerging UK trip-hop scene.

Fletcher kept that winning concept in mind when he and partner Roach began accumulating the musicians and tunes that are now beginning to appear on these African Dope albums and compilations. Names like Moodphase5ive, Kalahari Surfers, Felix Laband, Ghettomuffin, Craig Damster, and Anti Hero feature here in the first of what we believe will be an ongoing series highlighting the new sounds of Cape Town and South Africa.

Moodphase 5ive are naturally the pick of the pack, following the success of their 'Steady On' album, and five of that album's songs - 'Rise n Shine', 'Rhymedrop', 'Paradise', 'Violation', and 'Miles' - appear here, in remixed forms. Then the '5ive's lead vocalist, Ernie (aka Lady Ernestine), gets her own solo spot, performing the jaw-dropping soul-dub skank of 'Praha Paradise'. This track once again leaves one (okay, me) salivating for her promised solo album.

Warrick Sony contributes three tracks off his new Kalahari Surfers' album, 'Akasic Record', including the sinister groove of 'Gangsta', 'Taako' and that album's opening world-themed 'Dig It'. Sony also co-wrote and produced Ghettomuffin's 'Paralyser' track. The label's resident 'Moby' is Felix Laband who, we understand, has reams of his poppy, electronic landscapes in the can. So neither of his two contributions - 'Wilddog' and 'Turn The Clock' - are off his debut album, 'Thin Shoes In June', but match that album's quirky quality.

So this essential collection is a heady mix of some of the sounds, styles and smoke currently emanating from the city on the southern tip of Africa. It is also the kind of album that makes you wonder why this gang don't just buy a big bus, graffiti the entire surface, load up these musicians and their equipment, and head off to spread these cool sounds all around the country. It's what Ken would have wanted. Buy yourself some top class African Dope today! (9) (SSS)

 

cdcover GREATEST HITS - JUST JINGER [BMG]

19 November 2001 "Isn't it ironic?" as Alanis would quickly point out, that this first greatest hits compilation from the other big SA band of the past 10 years arrives in the same week as that of their now extinct compadres. The Nude Girls left their 'Greatest Hits' collection as a farewell note to their grieving fans while Art (Stanley?) Matthews and his band issue theirs as a mid-career hiatus before moving on to new challenges, still convinced that their time in the international spotlight is coming. But Art's never been short of confidence, and neither has BMG SA, his faithful record company, who still have no doubt that Just Jinger are a sure (if belated) thing.

And you cannot but share their devotion when listening to these songs. Throughout the band's career there have always been those on the sidelines with quizzical sneers on their faces and "Ja, but they sound like..." comparisons on their lips. But if we look at the phenomenal (by SA standards) sales of all the Just Jinger albums and EPs (and live video), and the fanatical support at all and any live performances by the band, it's obvious those detractors are well in the minority.

So here we have all those favourites lined up to be sung along to, cried to, reminisced to and danced to. There's 'Father And Farther', 'Silent Water', 'Your Song', 'Those Days', new single 'Home', and their timeous and respectful version of Rodriguez' 'Sugar Man'.

The band's line-up has changed dramatically over the years, but through it all, Art Matthews has remained in front, writing and performing the songs he knows will take him to where he clearly feels he deserves to be. You need his drive and self-confidence in this business, but when it's allied to a talent as sharp as his, results will definitely follow.

Just Jinger conquered SA with a string of top songs and an abundance of concerts. That formula may not have worked as well in London, where the band has been running down a 2-year work permit with limited success. But Art has his eye on Bush-land and this compilation gives us all a chance to reassess Just Jinger's work to date and their chances of international success. Looking forward to Volume 2. (SS)

Tracklisting: 'Shallow Waters', 'Sugar Man', 'Father And Farther', 'No God?', 'Stand In Your Way', 'Like You Madly', 'Your Song', 'Painting Hours', 'Her Story', 'Paradise In Summertime', 'Too Late', 'Perfect Ground', 'For All We Know', 'Those Days', 'Here's To You', 'She Knows', 'Remember Me', 'Home'.

 

cdcover THE FAT LADY SINGS (BEST OF 1995-2001) - SPRINGBOK NUDE GIRLS [SONY]

5 November 2001 Sony have released the Springbok Nude Girls' swan song album, 'The Fat Lady Sings', an 18-track compilation of the band's best, favourite, most adored, and unforgettable songs from the six hectic years of their glittering career. Sixteen of these songs have appeared before on the various albums and EPs, but two of these (the farewell single 'J59' and the pounding, sentimental 'Dimmer') are brand new Theo Crouse/Arno Carstens' compositions. These two previously-unreleased songs were added to this collection as a bonus, and also possibly as a signpost to where the band's guitarist and vocalist are heading, as they attempt to find a new musical path, still under the Sony banner.

The 16 other tracks however, prove beyond all doubt that this band had it all. The look, the unique sound, the blistering energy, and the best collection of solid gold rock songs by any SA band since... well, since no-one. Like triumphant, returning heroes, the band and these songs deserve a ticker-tape parade down the main streets of Stellenbosch in an open-top Kombi, and it will be a long time until another SA band can achieve their dominance and match their consistent quality.

The album's cover is classic and effective, with its colourful tribute to those Springbok Hits cover version LPs that were the source of the band's name. The song selection is spot on with no controversial omissions. All the hits, favourites, and better B-sides are included. It's a fitting finale to a great band that may not have achieved all they believed they could, but must surely be very content with where they landed up. Goddank vir die Nude Girls' se klank!

The tracklisting is: Lonely, Blue Eyes, Unworldly Beauty, Bubblegum On My Boots, Little, Genie, Giant Love Affair, Managing Mula, Baby Murdered Me, Smiley Skull Of Faith, J59, I Love You, Horizontal Landscape, Dimmer, Shot, Supergirl, X, and Spaceman.

Every (SA rock-loving) home should have one! (SS)

 

cdcover FAREWELL STATION ROAD - WAYNE PAULI (Bulldog)

15 October 2001 "It's everywhere, just look around, there are pieces on the ground; and I don't want to look around, cause I might hear the sound of crying".

For a while after that horrific day, all music seemed inappropriate and unhelpful. But then again so did all our other usual, handy healing devices. After a while the contrast between the war talk on the news and the enviable unawareness and unbelievable banality of the Big Brother guinea pigs forced us back to the CD pile for comfort. There lay this grey and white, unpretentious soft-looking album with "Farewell" in the title that just seemed the right, as-yet-unheard choice to listen to for some distractive comfort.

It turned out to be an inspired selection. 'Farewell Station Road' is mostly Cape Town-based Wayne Pauli, his very-expressive guitar and voice, and ten of his favourite original folky-blues compositions, some of them produced by the rising team at the Sunset Studios in Stellenbosch, some self-recorded on 4-track for that special 'Nebraska' feel. It's not all easy listening though, as 'Deep Black Hole' is a harrowing (black and) blues meditation on depression, with groaning guitar strings echoing in the gloom. That song arrives after the strong opening trio of the radio-friendly 'Who? (Can Relate To You)', the JJ Cale-like scorched back- and crossroads of 'Just Another Day', and the poignant violin-washed 'Your Silent Ways'.

The middle of the album is reserved for family, with tributes to Dad ('My Father', which sounds like Leonard Cohen's 'Suzanne' as recorded by Daniel Lanois), to Mom ('Santa Maria', with its haunting Spanish guitar and chorus), and Andrea ('Andrea'... about whom we are told "You know I'm so In love with you", although the album is dedicated "To Karin, with love", so I'm not getting involved here..).

'Like A Child' and 'The Sound Of Crying' add to the general downbeat emotional feel of this varied and graceful collection. Besides the obviously unintended contemporary relevance of its lyrics (quoted above), 'The Sound Of Crying' sounds like Pauli's attempt at writing the kind of song that Dylan would also tuck away at the end of an album. Certain borrowed phrases in the song ("Protect you and defend you", "...give you shelter from the storm") could also be clues as to his noble intentions here.

The extended narrative and sombre mood of the title track closes off the album, with our hero riding off into the sunset, guitar across his back. Actually, that should read, "with our hero riding out of the Sunset Studios, guitar across his back, and a (glorious) little gem of an album in his saddle bags". Welcome to Wayne's world. (8) SS
 
 
This and any other SA CD can be ordered online at One World, the best SA CD store on the pla-Net.

More CDs of the Week are archived here...


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Lots of SA CDs to buy online at One World.

There's also the Two Oceans Trading online shopping mall where you can purchase Springbok rugby merchandising, SA books, jewellery and CD-ROMs, amongst many other items.

Any thoughts, requests, problems, complaints, praise or interesting and relevant SA music news, please email it immediately to: sugar@cd.co.za

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editor: Stephen "Sugar" Segerman, webmaster: Alan Levin, maintainer: Brian Currin

Copyright 1996-2002 Amuzine . All rights reserved.

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