Ella Mental
Uncomplicated Dreams

Original album cover

Uncomplicated Dreams LP

2002 CD release

Uncomplicated Dreams CD

Tracks:

  1. See Yourself (Clowns) (Parr) (3:31)
  2. Magic Mother (Parr/Eugster) (3:24)
  3. Dancing (In The Moonlight) (Mac/Parr/Whitelaw/Eugster) (4:29)
  4. Pressure (I'm Getting Stronger) (Mac/Parr/Vardas) (4:20)
  5. Ain't Nobody Like You (Uncomplicated Dreams) (Parr/Heather Mac/Mac) (2:20)
  6. Wet Washing (Parr) (2:09)
  7. Monsters (Mac/Parr) (3:35)

    Bonus tracks on 2002 CD re-issue:
  8. Small Town / Point Of View listed as separate tracks on CD back cover
  9. Once Awake (live at the Chelsea Theatre, April 1984)
  10. See Yourself (Clowns) (live at the Concert In The Park January 1985)
  11. Don't Shout It new unreleased track
  12. Give Me My Hat Back new unreleased track

Produced by Malcolm Watson
Engineered by Philip Nel

Musicians:

  • Heather Mac: vocals
  • Tim Parr: guitar, vocals
  • Adrian Levi: bass
  • Herman Eugster: drums

Release information:

LP: 1984, EMI, EMCJ(E) 4115921
CD: September 2002, RetroFresh, freshcd127

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Review:

One of the first concerts I ever went to was the Free People's Concert at Wits University. It was during the turmoil of the 80's and at a time when South Africa was producing some excellent music. One of the acts on the bill was EllaMental who were just rising to fame with the singles 'See Youself (Clowns)' and 'Pressure' getting some good airplay (the former managing to reach number 16 on the Radio 5 charts). One of my abiding memories of the concert was standing near the stage being concerned at offending Heather Mac as I was standing with my fingers in my ears (that and my friend's girlfriend favourably comparing my rear end with Bruce Springsteen's. Butt I digress). The reason I was blocking my ears was not that I disliked the music, but I hadn't realised how loud it would be.

EllaMental's debut album 'Uncomplicated Dreams' contained the aforementioned singles and five other tracks. The dreams may have been uncomplicated, but the music is sophisticated rock. Heather Mac's mature and commanding vocals immediately set the tone on the opener 'See Yourself (Clowns)' and maintain it throughout the album. These strong vocals and the guitar playing of one of South African's leading axemen, Tim Parr, meant that this album was bound to be something special. Apart from the wonderful pop rock of 'See Youself' and the edgy 'Pressure', the album has touches of Anglo-African sounds, particularly evident in the éVoid-y guitar on 'Dancing (in the Moonlight)', a great rockabilly track in 'Wet Washing' and closes with the punky 'Monsters' (which was the B-Side of the 'See Yourself' single).

The big question that surrounds this album for me is the meaning of the song 'Magic Mother' with the lyric 'Magic Mother cast spell on us/teach us to dance away all of our fears". Is the mother referred to Mama Africa, or is Magic Mother used here a code for Magic Mushroom? You never know with these rock musician types. I can't recall ever hearing this tune on the radio, so I guess the SABC protected us from this highly subversive song.

After the success of this album, EllaMental recorded the single '30 Million Lonely People' which had limited success. They then headed over to the States possibly more as self-imposed exiles rather than seeking fame and fortune. There they recorded the less impressive 'EllaMental' an album that grew out of the cracks in the pavement of New York and lacked the passion of 'Uncomplicated Dreams' which was firmly rooted in the fertile soil of 80's South Africa.

John Samson, SA Rockdigest #164, August 2002

Webpage:

Info supplied by John Samson, May 2002. CD re-issue supplied by Benjy Mudie from RetroFresh


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