'Amuzed' - 27/02/98
And here's to you Mrs Simon's son, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you…."
Been thinking about Paul Simon lately. I heard that the former Art critic, ex-Fisher-king, (Brick(el)layer?) and singer/songwriter had released a new opus called 'Capeman' which was debuting on Broadway. I thought back to those heady days in 1986 when (you can call him) Al's 'Graceland' album created such a political El No-no due to its flouting of the strict but justified anti-SA cultural boy(in-the-bubble)cott. Simon had used some of the finest musos and sounds in SA to create the 'Graceland' album and in the process had made artists like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ray Phiri and Bakhiti Khumalo household names in the international market ("Pass the Phiri, please, and take your feet off the Mambazo immediately"). But all this was swept aside in the torrent of indignation that accompanied the release of this album. Simon had "played Sun City" and that was verbode so the album, along with its obvious benefits to the emerging South African music scene, was unfortunately discarded and disgraced.
Listening to 'Graceland' now it is obvious that, although the political reaction to it was correct and more important than the music, it was still an excellent album and was largely successful in assimilating and showcasing the amazing array of SA musical talent that was struggling to be heard and appreciated on the global stage. That's why I got so excited when I heard about 'Capeman'. It was apparently the story of a guy who goes to jail in the '50s and is then released, rehabilitated and redeemed. Great! I thought: he's written a rock opera about Nelson Mandela! That would mean that once again Paul Simon had come to our rescue and was going to bring the sounds of kwaito, kwela and the Springbok Nude Girls to the ears of the world. Then I read more and realised that the "capeman" name was a red herring (snoek?) and that the opus is actually based on the life of a Puerto Rican teenager called Salvador Agron who was convicted of killing two white kids in New York City in 1959. So Madiba was bypassed and our musicians will now have to wait for some international star to wake up to the musical potential that exists here in South Africa.
Shouldn't take too long, though. Quincy Jones has added his reputation and experience to the Qradio site that is streaming SA radio over the Net as well as providing a comprehensive database of all the current SA music artists and happenings. South Africa will be represented at the 1998 Grammys this week when renowned SA pop and TV celebrity of sorts turned music producer Cedric Samson (how can he be called Samson when he's got no hair?) has his eulogy to Madiba, the soaring 'Father of our Nation', going head-to-head with R Kelly's 'Space Jam'-inspired 'I Believe I Can Fly' in the category for best song written specifically for a motion picture or television film. This song was sung by Cape Town soulstress Jennifer Jones and features the hot new trumpeter Hugh "SA-tchmo" Masekela. It was included in the 1997 Oscar-nominated soundtrack from the documentary 'Mandela - Son of Africa, Father of a Nation' (they left out "ex-husband of Winnie"). I will be discussing the Grammy ceremony and awards next week's column.
Some interesting new SA releases include the debut CD by the Honeymoon Suites called, erm, 'Greatest Hits (Jan 97 - Jan 98)'. Let's not forget that we featured their first single 'Luminous Anonimity' in Real Audio on their Lager Mentality interview. This CD will be officially launched on March 4th at the Waterfront in Cape Town and is keenly anticipated (the CD that is, not the launch … well, the launch as well, I suppose). The Suites will then be tripping off on their nationwide promotional tour. March will also hopefully see the release of the Springbok Nude Girls' five-track CD, 'Omnisofa', which was recorded at the Sunset Studios in Stellenbosch and includes the new songs 'Blue Eyes' and 'Apollo'. There is also the new CD EP by Trans Sky (I love that name!) which features three remixes of the lekker Urban Creep song 'Slow Thighs' as well as a cover of the old chestnut 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You'. This is to be followed, apparently, by a full album by this Warrick Sony/Brendan Jury combo and another cover, this time of the Frank Sinatra classic 'Fly Me To The Moon' (too much "Transkei", hey boys?). Still, as they say, if you want to really make headlines, use a corduroy pillow!
Rodriguez fever is hotting up and the Sugar Man arrives in Cape Town on Monday for his six-date tour. There are still some tickets for the two shows in Cape Town at the Belville Velodrome on 6th and 7th March. Johannesburgers can catch him on the 9th and 10th March at the Standard Bank Arena and Durbanites at the Village Green on 13th and 14th March.
Also in Cape Town on Saturday the 7th March is a one-off concert by Johnny Clegg and Juluka supported by Henry Ate at the Three Arts in Plumstead. Does that mean that you're not going to catch Rodriguez, Johnny? Or is some promoter a bit pissed off that they lost the Rodriguez tour? Answers on an email please or just post it on the web-board at The Great Rodriguez Website. Other local concert news can be surveyed at the Gig Guide. This week the Synergy rave compilation and the John Mellencamp greatest hits collection are featured in our Reviews section. Let your fingers do the browsing through One World, our comprehensive online SA CD store. Flick through our Film site for all the silver screen news. Receipts from the movie 'Titanic' are approaching the one-billion dollar mark and the soundtrack from the movie has passed the ten-million sales mark, making it the best selling soundtrack of all time --which is some achievement considering that the previous champion was the 'Saturday Night Fever' soundtrack. Common to both albums is the question: "How deep is your love?"
We have been receiving some inspired, wild and wacky reviews of all events great and small for our soon-to-be-appearing The Show Must Go Online site, so keep scribbling and send 'em off. The reviews must be heartfelt and shortish. We are not looking for Pulitzer Prize stuff, just your thoughts and tweaked emotions written down. As always, your opinions, criticisms, overwhelming praise, news, views and suggestions for interviews are welcome if emailed to yours truly at firstname.lastname@example.org
And remember, if you're going to see Rodriguez in concert, don't forget to take your Jumpers, Coke and sweet……ja, you know what to take!
Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman
The five albums currently filtering out of the Amuzine cell are…
Trans Sky - Heaven To Touch:
You have to really love the Urban Creep song 'Slow Thighs' to enjoy all three of these mixes, luckily I do!
Common - One Day it'll All Make Sense:
The first great R&B/Rap/Hip Hop fruit salad album of 1998. Still trying to get my ears around all its hidden corners.
King Britt - When The Funk Hits The Fan:
Title says it all, another cool stew that dips into the funk of the past and produces a smooth and groovy treat.
Various Cape artists - the 'New World Music' collection:
An essential collection of the now sounds pouring out of the Cape township's musical melting pot.
Culture - Two Sevens Clash:
Still regarded as one of the finest of all the seminal reggae albums. Found it on sale on cassette in Greenmarket Square. Seek and ye shall find!
by stephen 'Sugar' Segerman