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1. Die Mamba - Piet Botha (Rhythm/Bowline)

CD Cover There were plenty of top rock albums released in South Africa during 2003 and choosing the best of the lot was never going to be easy. Karen Zoid released 'Chasing The Sun', her second album (her first was the Digest 'album of the year' in 2001), and proved that 'Poles Apart' was no fluke and that all the rave reviews about her were well deserved.

Freshlyground, the popular Cape Town seven-person music collective, followed up their string of acclaimed and very packed gigs with 'Jika Jika', an album that captured their dynamic Afro-World sound and diverse songs featuring the sensational vocals of new SA star, Xolani. Arno Carstens released 'Another Universe', his intelligent debut solo album with the songs developed with his New Porn project featuring the guitar genius of Albert Frost and viola licks of Brendan Jury. Watershed's second album, 'Wrapped In Stone', was another classy piece of work, and young Johannesburg band, Old Mol, released 'Rock The Bedsprings', the year's freshest, funniest and most entertaining album from an emerging SA rock band.

But the album of the year came from one of South Africa's older troubadours - Piet Botha's 'Die Mamba' was his first since leaving EMI and returning to his indie roots with Rhythm Records. The album found this respected and adored Afrikaans musician releasing what is regarded by his many devotees as his finest work since his seminal album, ''n Suitcase Vol Winter', in 1997.

'Die Mamba' boasts a stunning title track with its wry look (back?) at groupies, or "bokkies" as they are referred to here. There's 'Bordello', a rewrite of 'The House Of The Rising Son' that situates this traditional folk classic in Johannesburg; 'Die Gemmerbroodman', which is a nod to the backing track 'superstars'; and there's an emotional look at both the destructive effects of the apartheid-era border war ('Jacob Klipkop') and the current US situation ('Al Die Stede'), which is also Piet's sincere dedication to Nelson Mandela.

Piet Botha dug deep for his inspiration behind 'Die Mamba', and the album is a warm, lyrical, sentimental and ultimately powerful experience. Botha has combined his evocative songwriting and musical wisdom and experience, gained from many years on the SA music circuit, with the young musical talents of guitarist Jonathan Martin and the other musicians in his backing band, Jack Hammer, to craft an album rich in imagery, personal observations, and wonderful songs. Piet Botha's 'Die Mamba' is the SA Rock Digest Album Of The Year for 2003.

2. Jika Jika - freshlyground (Indie)
3. Chasing The Sun - Karen Zoid (EMI)
4. Another Universe - Arno Carstens (Sony)
5. Rock The Bedsprings - Old Mol (Legend)
6. Wrapped In Stone - Watershed (EMI)
7. TNTLC - Boo! (BMG)
8. The Truth - Jo Day (Indie)
9. Back Seat Driver - Tait (Fresh)
10. Release - Zen Arcade (Indie)
11. Hello Crazy World - Prime Circle (DGR)
12. Forest Moon - Forest Moon (Indie)
13. More Fire - The Rudimentals (Indie)
14. Inbluesstation - Delta Blue (Merchant)
15. Verspreide Donderbuie/Scattered Thunder - Amanda Strydom (JNS)
16. Mellow Drama - Phringe (USM)
17. Sui - Benguela (Open Record)
18. Luxury - Robin Auld (Free Lunch)
19. Awakening - Happy Four Twenty (Go Hemp)
20. At The Bassline - Tumi And The Volume (Ready Rolled)
21. Tell Someone Who Cares - Wonderboom (DGR)
22. The Heat - The Dolly Rockers (Huh?)
23. Ceremony - Cofield Mundi (Fresh)
24. Catfish - Albert Frost (Rhythm/Bowline)
25. Ligdag - Laurinda Hofmeyr (Rhythm/Bowline)
26. Teaching Afrikaans As A Foreign Language - Buckfever Underground (Indie)
27. Dirty Sanchez And The Misfit Kidz - Tweak (BMG)
28. 'n Jaar In Die Son - Koos Kombuis En Valiant Swart (Rhythm/Bowline)
29. When I Grow Up - Guy Buttery (Sheer)
30. Never Look Back - Brian Finch (Indie)

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