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Koos Kombuis - Madiba Bay
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Madiba Bay Let's get the hyperbole out of the way before we begin. Koos Kombuis is the most important artist in South Africa today. If the geographical features of Cape Town could be used as a metaphor for the SA music scene then Koos Kombuis is Table Mountain. While I'm on this "plik" I'd say that the Springbok Nude Girls are Devil's Peak and Sugardrive could be Lion's Head, but Koos towers over them all and this is his third album.

There was the seminal classic, 'Ver Van Die Ou Kalahari', which he released when he was simply Andre Le Toit in those mal Voelvry days when the young Afrikaans punks created "A Naartjie in the RSA" and railed against the pre-Mandela madness. Then he changed his name to Koos Kombuis (that's "kitchen" for all you "souties" out there) and released 'Niemandsland And Beyond' with its mixture of the scathing ("Daar's paranooie in Parow Noord") and the beautiful ('Lisa Se Klavier'). Koos strolled around his beloved country and instead of crying he captured all the absurdity, emotion and wonder in the songs that flowed from his guitar like wine from his Tassies bottle. Next came 'Elke Boemelaar Se Droom', which sounded like an hour from Koos's own imaginary radio station and was crammed full of a wide assortment of SA folk, reggae, traditional and pure Koos magic, an album that never grows tiresome even if played every day. Take the lyrics from 'Bicycle Sonder 'n Slot': "Ek bring vir jou blomme, ek gee jou genot, ek leen jou my bicycle sonder a slot. Ek weet dit is laat en jou ma is nog slaap, maar ek moes net vir jou se, ek het jou lief soos die Kaap". For all those bad years during which Afrikaans was "the language of the oppressor" and, like sport, was subject to a severe boycott, Afrikaans had to fight for its place in "the arts". Koos Kombuis changed all that with songs full of emotion, honesty and a feel for the unique SA experience that no previous artist had achieved.

So here's 'Madiba Bay', the third album in his "drielogy", and it's just wonderful. The 13 songs are in both English and Afrikaans but the division is never apparent. There's no creative constipation with this ou -- his muse just keeps churning out these lovable melodies and wise but sing-along lyrics. Witness Koos and "Die Sanlambraai ensamble koor" doing a live and lusty rendition of 'Huisie By Die See' ("Almal wil 'n huisie by die see he, almal hoop die struggle is verby"). In the middle of the album are two back-to-back songs that are simply exquisite: "Sweet Freedom' ("I love you like the rain, I love you like the sun, but baby don't complain you're not the only one, I love you like sweet freedom") and 'Atlantis In Jou Lyf' ("Die Saharas in jou oe en Atlantis in jou lyf"). There's the contemporary angst of 'Pocket Of My Jeans' and 'Who Killed Kurt Cobain', the social comment of 'Hartseer Land' and 'Voortrekker Road' and the optimism of 'Madiba Bay', the new name for Cape Town that Koos borrowed from fellow rocker Valiant Swart.

'Madiba Bay' is also available as part of a boxed set with an extra CD called 'Blameer Dit Op Apartheid'. This is a live recording of the impromptu session that followed the recording of 'Madiba Bay', with Koos and his backing band, Die Warm Blankes, letting rip with a handful of hard and heavy rock workouts.

The cult of Koos Kombuis continues to grow. For a multitude of reasons 'Madiba Bay' and the previous two albums are essential additions to your CD collection. The biggest reason, though, is that Koos Kombuis has found a musical way to touch and heal those emotions that sit inside every South African who is still recovering from the pain of the past decades. These are truly the soundtracks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"No problem at work, no problem at play, no use getting excited, should I leave, should I stay?

No problem tomorrow, no problem today, no problem at all is the African way…in Madiba Bay."

Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman 10/10

others in the REVIEWS

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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

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

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