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CD Cover 'SWIMMING WITH THE WOMEN' - MIKANIC

16 December 2002
Some Stuff:

This CD was recorded live at the SABC Beach Road studios, Cape Town, in front of a packed audience as part of the renowned Wondergigs live recording sessions.

Mikanic performed and recorded together with a swing orchestra (Schalk Joubert and Riaan Van Rensburg) and these are the guests that all feature on the album: Jamie Jupiter playing the mouth organ on 'Blues', Mike Hardy singing on 'Jeff', Sylvia Mdunyelwa singing on 'Inja', Ernie Deane singing on 'Don't Push'.

Ze Music:

Bloody hell. No bland tidbits here. Just a cunningly smooth piece of work, with semi-sporadic reggae-ish grooves and amazingly yummy bursts of manic rhythms, funky notes and - hey presto - Africa with a new dress.

Mike Rennie is a demon with a heart on a frisky multilingual violin. His voice slips through the back door and takes care of the punctuation in several different fonts. Incredible how this cool dude's violin mutates into a third arm with a thousand tongues. Nick Turner on guitar and vocals shows you how to get inside their tunes. Way inside. Occasionally his voice turns a bit schizo - one moment high and clear, but on the next bar you get slapped against the head with a raucus roll of stomping macho notes.

Watch out for Jamie Jupiter's harmonica. It teases and tiptoes, but can turn into a high-maintenance bitch just as quickly. Catch a listen in Track 9 to taste the effect. And even the track titles have oomph. 'Inja'. 'Masganja'. 'Sweets'. 'Naked Man'.

Track 1 oozes quiet power. 'Don't Push'. This should be the hit, but not for the empty-headed bubblegum brigade. Its chilling beauty will stay in your head long after you put the CD away. Words with purpose. "Don't push / Don't shove / We don't need no help / Falling in and out of love...." But wait for the girl. Hear her voice ascend to a dizzy height of wordless emotion and hit that hot rush of urgency.

Disappear into Track 5. 'Jeff' is... well... freaking stunning. "I don't need the know-how / You got the energy..." and sharpen your ear for the rest. The harmony gives you light and dark shades, bare hands on drums and fingers on guitar strings give you clear-cut talent. Your best spirit fix without the side-effects.

Give Track 7 a listen first - if you're intrigued by violin insanity and apparently erratic rhythm changes. Then do it again, and it will all make sense.

'Madiba' on the lekker Track 4 is filled to the brim with the jive. The old Dude should have this in his CD-walkman. The rap works. The voices mix like pap and seshebo. "Slowly / Side to side/ Side to Side / Open up slowly / In the shade of the trees / Gonna buzz from the bees..." It goes quiet for a sec. Then it picks up again with Mike Rennie and that violin strummin' the stress right out of your bones. "Yamma Madiba Mamadiba Mamadiba..."

Laid-back beats in Track 8 - 'Africa My Love' - soothes those rough suburban edges. Then - some some weird pulse starts talking - sounds like some dude playing harp with a kick-ass spiderweb, a thick rich sound with a throbbing beat that makes your feet walk ways in all directions. This one - hooo boy - this one will nail your ear to the speaker.

'Making Love with the Sunshine' on Track 9 shows you the nature child. Aahh yes. "I've been walking with the insects today..." and shoooosh, you are there. Chilling while you breathe through your eyelids. "Photosynthesising with the green... content and free...". And then, just after the sixth minute, you groove straight into a jazzy vibe, dotted here and there with violin and harmonica. Smoooooth.

'Swimming with the Women'. Each time you listen to this CD you will find new rooms. Utterly lekker to hear so many spicy sounds in each song. Cleverly put together, lyrics with a purpose and ever so slightly freaky in places, but lusciously funky, this one.

Carina Laubscher
 

CD Cover 'GYPSY SOUL' - ROGER LUCEY

2 December 2002 Brendan Jury has been fiddling with Roger Lucey. This may sound sordid, but I think Brendan will insist that it's a viola and not a fiddle. Fiddle or viola, it is this swirling sound of Brendan that heralds the long overdue, and quite welcomed return of Roger Lucey.

'Gypsy Soul' could possibly be described as Roger's post Primal Scream album. In the sleeve notes he talks of building a house in the mountains and 'the pain of hard labour eased the pain of my history and bit by bit the healing took place.' There is certainly less anger here than on his debut 'The Road is Much Longer'. Songs like the title track, 'I'm Alright Now' and 'The Soft Glow of Dreams' just by their titles conjure up images of a post cathartic experience, and the music compliments these titles with bamboo and Bolivian flutes which have, for me, always created images of open spaces of great beauty.

For this album Lucey called on the musical talents from various quarters. I've already mentioned Brendan Jury on Viola, but to this add Nico Carstens (yes he of the old Boere Orkes Kompetisies) on accordion, Ray Phiri plays guitar on 'Come the Day' and Dan Chiorboli on percussion. Added to this eclectic collection is Eufronio "Kech" Sanchez who plays the Bolivian Flutes and charango. I won't even pretend to know what a charango is or what it sounds like, but whatever it is it must sound pretty cool as there are no uncool sounds here.

However it's not all gentleness and peace. There are some biting tunes to remind the listener that although the turmoil of the past has subsided, not everyone is sharing in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow nation. 'The Night Harry J Went To War' is a razor sharp, vehemently delivered song about gangs and their effects on communities. The tension of the songs is echoed in the edgy viola playing.

'Come the Day' is a mixture of relaxed blues and reggae beat but to this song a dark side there is. Lucey's distinctive vocals are ominous on the verses, making one edgy, however, he relaxes for the chorus creating an unsettling juxtaposition.

Roger's road has possibly been longer than he thought it would be after the reaction to his first politically charged album. However he has now navigated those treacherous mountain roads and has now hit those long straight roads through the Karoo. While the anger has subsided, Lucey's ability to write meaningful lyrics and great rock tunes has in no way diminished. Another fine offering from one of SA's great rock artists.

John Samson

Read http://www.rock.co.za/files/roger_lucey.html
Listen http://www.samp3.com/artists_l_s.html
Buy http://www.oneworld.co.za/index.cfm?bec=4321&searchfor=roger lucey
 

CD Cover 'TIEN JAAR LATER' - JOHANNES KERKORREL

18 November 2002 The Church Organ has fallen silent and the congregation sits silently in the pews each one coping with the shock to the senses as the silence expands into the space that had once been filled with music. The more powerful the organ piece, the greater is the shock and adjustment required.

Ralph Rabie certainly gave us some powerful music. Under the name of Johannes Kerkorrel, he came to prominence alongside Koos Kombuis and James Phillips with the VoŽlvry tour, a tour that broke the shackles that had been keeping Afrikaans music clear of the rock scene and challenged the apartheid government. Three songs from Kerkorrel's seminal debut 'Eet Kreef' can be found here as well as two live tracks from the tour which later appeared on the CD 'VoŽlvry Die Toer'.

'Sit Dit Af' is a decidedly anti PW (Botha) song as is the live 'Wat 'n Vriend Het Ons In PW'. The former in particular highlighted not only JK's lyrical ability but also his wonderful keyboard playing. Alongside this is the wonderful 'BMW' which attacks the upper class attitude with possibly the most sardonic vocals ever committed to CD. But it is his paean to Jo'burg's one time jol centre that outshines almost all else on the CD. 'Hillbrow' is an incredibly moving and descriptive piece that anyone who ever spent any time in the shadow of the Hillbrow Tower in the 80's will immediately relate to. Its haunting sound compliments perfectly the words that will invoke many a memory (both good and bad) as all the important landmarks are name checked.

After VoŽlvry, Kerkorrel seemed to move in a different direction to his fellow VoŽlvryers. His music became gentler and less political. The beautiful 'Halala Afrika' and the melancholic 'Somer' show a very different side to his song writing. These two songs in particular massage a weary spirit while his version of Koos Kombuis' 'Onder In My Whiskeyglas' on the other hand is packed with the pains of life.

These examples alongside his version of the traditional 'Al LÍ Die Berge Nog So Blou' show that he was a very talented songwriter and musician. 'Tien Jaar Later' gives a good insight into the varied career of Kerkorrel. >From the Rock 'n Roll of 'Sit Dit Af' through to the dance remix of 'River of Love' this retrospective CD covers all the facets of the man.

As the congregation files silently out of the Church, the question 'Why?' hangs heavily in the air. It's unlikely that we will be able to answer this, so let's listen to this CD and not look for answers here, but rather celebrate the Church Organ in full flow. And while the tears flow perhaps for a while you can Gee gee gee, gee gee gee, gee jou hart vir Kerkorrel, sy familie, sy vriende en al sy fans. R.I.P. Ralph, stuur groete aan James.

Read http://www.rock.co.za/legends/jk
Listen http://www.samp3.com/artists_e_k.html
 

CD Cover 'THE BEST OF' - THE HELICOPTERS [RETROFRESH]

4 November 2002 "Mysteries and jealousy, mysteries and jealousy, In my miiiiind". Remember that? You do now. One of the hookiest choruses ever to grace a South African pop single. This one came from The Helicopters, the "Flock Of Durans" of V-Town (Vereeninging), who dazzled the SA pop scene through the '80's with their local brand of New Romantic style and music.

So here, for the first time on CD, is the best of The Helicopters, the latest release by Benjy Mudie on his RetroFresh label. The Helicopters, who formed around 1981, were always fronted by Bernard Binns (lead vocals, guitar). But with an ever-revolving line-up that included names like Bert Askes, John Mason, Andre van den Heever, Piet Koen, Franco de Nuzzo, Nick Matzukis, Macjek Scheibel, Paul Hughes, Martin Ledger, Alistair Broadhead, and Carole Walsh, they should rather have been called "The Revolving Doors".

The Helicopter's first single, 'Flying High', and 'Miles And Miles Apart' from 1984, are the only two tracks not included on this 14-song collection. But there are live versions of 'Watch Out' and 'Don't Wanna Live In Hollywood' among the other Helicopter favourites off the band's two albums, 'Love Attack' in 1985, and 'In The Flesh' two years later. There are also short but worthy sleeve notes by one of the band's earliest fans, Andrew Rees.

Full tracklisting: 'Television Part 1', 'Mysteries And Jealousy', Love Breaks Down', 'Watch Out' (Live), 'Kissing For Pleasure', All Your Dreams', 'Terror In The Attic', 'Western Skies', 'Only For You', 'Whisper Your Secret', 'Don't Vanish, It's A Love Attack', 'Yesterday Was Never', 'Come & Dance', 'Don't Wanna Live In Hollywood' (Live).

Read http://www.rock.co.za/files/helicopters.html
Buy http://www.oneworld.co.za/index.cfm?bec=4321&id=freshcd128
 

CD Cover 'GOD IS AFRICAN' - VARIOUS OST [SONY]

21 October 2002 This new soundtrack, as with the film it represents, focuses on Ade, a DJ at the Key Campus radio station operating on a Jo'burg University campus. Ade's in-between song patter and song selection offer a glimpse into the issues and sounds of the current South African 21sst Century urban scene. The music features a broad selection of hot, new SA musical sounds and styles, from kwaito to homegrown interpretations of hip hop, R&B, trip hop, dance and others.

The lead track is Ishmael's 'Jo'burg City' tribute, alongside Zola's smash hit 'Mdlwembe', Ernie's skanking 'Praha Paradise', Sifiso Sudan's evcocative 'Rise Again' (with its opening highveld thunderstorm), 'Jah Love' from MoodPhase 5ive, the township-rooted 'Mapodisa' from Brothers Of Peace, and other contributions from Felix Laband ('Turn The Clock'), Prophets Of Da City ('Da Struggle Continues'), KB ('Marabenta'), Bongo Maffin ('Azania') and more.

'God Is African' works as both a worthy soundtrack and a thrilling introduction to the diversity of innovative music pouring out of SA these days. Watch out for the movie as well.

Buy http://www.oneworld.co.za/index.cfm?bec=4321&ID=CDEPC8217
 

CD Cover 'MOVED TO CHANGE' - ANDREW JANISCH [Indie]

7 October 2002 Someone once described fishing as "Transcendental Meditation with a punchline". They could have been talking about 'Moved To Change', Andrew Janisch's debut solo album, whose 12 songs seem to lull one into a state of dreamy bliss, while continuing to pose those contemporary, existential questions that affect many of us in this new, strange age.

These are all sensitive and emotional songs, with minimal instrumentation save for Janisch's lustrous guitar and pleasingly raspy voice, and some laid back fretless bass from Nelson Barbosa. Janisch is best known for the two strong albums he made with Woodshed before deciding to tackle his solo album, and all these songs were written and assembled by him gradually over a period of months at Paris Studios.

>From the wide-eyed future shock of the opener 'Millennium Boy' ("Here it is, here I am, just another, Millennium Boy"), to the closing optimism of 'Fly Away', 'Moved To Change' constantly maintains its soft melodic and wordy punch. Favourites include the zippy first single 'Certify', 'Change Your Ways', 'Ride On', 'Smile', and specially 'Whole Again', the mid-album drum 'n bass pop song highlight.

But this is mostly Janisch's musical voyage of personal discovery as explained in 'Millennium Boy', where his vulnerable tone echoes a similar theme to that of Talking Heads' 'Once In A Lifetime' by pondering: "Buy a new house, car, wife, get deeper into debt, get stuck inside your life; don't you want to hold your heart just for once?"

'Moved To Change' is a thoughtful, relevant and beautiful album! (SS)

Read http://www.rock.co.za/legends/2000plus/andrew_janisch
Listen http://www.samp3.com/artists_e_k.html
Buy http://www.oneworld.co.za/index.cfm?bec=4321&id=janisch
 

CD Cover 'ORDINARY DAY' - THE FORTUNE COOKIES [Muskateer]

23 September 2002 The Mail & Guardian named Fortune Cookies' vocalist Cathy Stadler as one of the 'Movers and Shakers' of the Rainbow Nation. That wasn't a reference to her musical abilities (then), it was more for her IT and marketing successes, but Cathy took the award literally and set out to make a big impression with her debut album.

Fortunately 'Ordinary Day' is not a flashy dance-pop album of the "moving and shaking" variety. These ten songs pack a range of introspective lyrics and irresistible pop symphonies into less then 40 minutes. All the songs on 'Ordinary Day' were written by Cathy Stadler, with the exception of first single 'Nightingale', and were given the Brian O'Shea magic production touch at the Farm Studios in Midrand during 2001.

'Nightingale', which slots neatly among the other original pop gems on display here, was released earlier this year and immediately grabbed keen attention and radio play. It was followed on to the airwaves by the equally addictive 'I Can't Get Enough Of You', a highlight of the album with Stadler's voice lifting the song from the vulnerability of the verse to the brave, soaring chorus.

The band's current line-up - Tim Frost (drums), Jenny Chadwick (bass), and Cathy's brother Jonathan on lead guitar and backing vocals - evolved during the recording of 'Ordinary Day'. They all contributed to these arrangements alongside other guest luminaries like Nathan Waywell (Starskii) on bass, Paul McIver (Watershed) on keyboards and guitar, and Garth McLeod (Sugardrive) on drums.

The album opens in a sombre mood with 'What's The Reason' and 'Make Me Your Religion', before the zesty 'Ordinary Day' skips into sight, with a happy-sunny-in-the-city feel and sound similar to acts like UK group Saint Etienne, early Edie Brickell, and SA's The Sunshines. There's also 'Wait A Little Baby', 'Closer (Than I Hold My Breath)', and 'Fallen Angel', a poignant vocal and piano ballad. Then, in a manner befitting the band's name, the album closes with the sweet taste and sage advice of 'Take Your Time'.

All round, 'Ordinary Day' is a short, intelligent, and delicious pop album that promises much for these Fortune Cookies' future. [SS]

Buy
http://www.oneworld.co.za/index.cfm?bec=4321&searchfor=fortune cookies
 

CD Cover 'UNCOMPLICATED DREAMS' - ELLA MENTAL [RetroFresh]

16 September 2002 Ella Mental's debut album, 'Uncomplicated Dreams', has just been released with six bonus tracks by RetroFresh. This is the first time that the band's debut seven song album from 1984 is available on CD, although the hit, 'See Yourself (Clowns)', has already made a few SA compilation appearances. The bonus tracks on this welcome reissue include a version of 'Once Awake', recorded live at the Chelsea in 1984, and 'See Yourself (Clowns)' from the band's slot on the historic 'Concert In The Park' at Ellis Park in January 1985.

From Heather Mac and Tim Parr's first meeting at Mangles in 1981, until the band eventually disbanded in 1991, Ella Mental continued to strike a popular chord among the edgy '80's SA rock fans. With a settled line-up of Heather Mac (vocals), Tim Parr (guitars, vocals), Adrian Levi (bass), and Herman Eungster (drums), Ella Mental's music and travels took them around South Africa before the band left to try their luck in Ireland, England and eventually the US.

The members of Ella Mental are all still actively involved in the music industry, and Deon Maas' excellent liner notes trace their history as "one of the greatest groups ever in this country". Listen to 'Uncomplicated Dreams' and you'll know why!

Tracklisting: 'See Yourself (Clowns)', 'Magic Mother', 'Dancing In The Moonlight', 'Pressure (I'm Getting Stronger)', 'Ain't Nobody Like You (Uncomplicated Dreams)', 'Wet Washing', 'Monsters'. (Bonus Tracks) 'Small Towns', 'Point Of View', 'Once Awake' (Live), 'See Yourself' (Live), 'Don't Shout It', 'Give Me My Hat Back'.

Buy this CD:
http://www.oneworld.co.za/index.cfm?bec=4321&ID=freshcd127

Read John Samson's review of the original album in Issue #164 at http://www.sarockdigest.com/archives

{Tim Parr was originally a member of Baxtop with Larry Amos. Listen to Baxtop's 1979 classic 'Jo Bangles' at http://www.samp3.com by kind permission of Larry Amos. - ed}
 
 
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