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SA Rock Gold – Various

2010-10-13 20:11
SA Rock Gold

Even SA pop and rock had its great moments - even before the Springbok Nude Girls and Fokofpoliesiekar, though younger patrons may not quite understand why the drums on some of these recordings on disc one sound so out of time and compression.

Benjy Mudie seems to be the go-to guy for SA radio pop and rock classics. He’s put a fair amount of them on here, and with good intention.

Get through the first eight or so tracks of SA Rock Gold, and you’ll reckon you’ll have lived through the acid trip first-hand, bru. So diverse and seemingly abstract is the starting point for this emphatic 3-disc set, you’ll wonder where the hell Uncle Percy went.

Stingray’s “Better the Devil You Know” is still a pleasantly familiar radio memory - back then we listened to radio, see. It’s on radio we heard “Buccanner” by McCully Workshop and Lesley Rae Dowling’s “Grips of Emotion”.

All the signatories to the old bastards rock constitution are here – Rabbitt, McCully, Laxton, Hawk, The Bats (!), Radio Rats... it’s David Gresham’s personal rolladex. And it’s as good a text book on SA pop rock history as you’re gonna get (even if you have to wonder why Four Jacks and Jill’s international success is omitted).

The fact is that once upon a time, SA rock really was of a quality on par with what was happening in other places around the globe. Most notably, our 80s pop and “alternative” songs were awesome, and you’ll find many examples on disc 2. No Friends, Sweatband (Hi, Wendy!), Ellamental, Tribe After Tribe, Psycho Reptiles, Robin Auld, The Helicopters, The Spectres and several others all get themselves a good remastering of their most successful tracks.

You’ll also feel a distinct shift in the way music was made through the eras by the time Evoid declares that that they are fadgets (hello... synthesisers!). And the new wave carries through for Petit Cheval, occasionally popping up between the guitar-heavy grinders until Sugardrive delivers the last great synth-touched SA effort, perhaps ingenuously and appropriately titled “Disco Lazarus” (get it?).

But that’s all the way down to track 15 of the last disc, which would be fair, if you’re gonna call this a trip back down the road.  It is a slight stretch, however, to include the Jackhammer and Jo Day, and it's blatantly cynical to include the Helloangel and Blue Scream closers, if only because someone my age has to ask “who are they?” for all the wrong reasons.

One of the great things about bands and records from before the Great Corporate Screwing Up of Radio (c.1990), is that you could still get a really diverse listening experience from track to track. Not everyone wanted to do that unmentionable thing to your 'whatyoumacallits', and even when they did, they said it in a way that was kinda funny and interesting.

What to read next: Kalahari

Charles 2010-04-12 02:08 PM
Wow, now this is a trip down memory lane. I listened most of these bands as a teenager - No Friends, Tribe After Tribe, eVoid, Petite Cheval, Radio Rats, etc. Awesome, I must add this to my collection!

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