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Various - Uit Die Pen van Steve

2008-04-10 05:29
Being a star is a complicated business. Making music can become just one of your brand propositions when your personal life, dress sense and political views are all part of the package. Dis hoe dit is with Steve the star, but as these various covers of Steve songs ably demonstrate, Steve the songwriter and performer has always been the most important bit.

For me, the test of a Steve cover is something like "Agter Elke Man", an underrated song that deserves to be a South African rock classic. Pieter Smit's version is beautifully sung, but it lacks the pathos and personality of the original. Maybe it’s inevitable that this would be the case – Smit’s version doesn’t have the samples from the tv program, and doesn’t have the delicious ironies of Steve’s original, ironies which we won’t go into here as you’re sure to have been kept updated by our sister publication Huisgenoot.
Eclipse's remix of "Pampoen" is nothing short of diabolical. What’s the point of taking a hit song and turning it into what sounds like a soundtrack for a commercial featuring dancing tampons? Even Steve's enemies wouldn’t wish this on him. And I listened to Juanita's version of "Amajube" three times in a row, and then got sick in a bucket. I know, it's supposed to sound like a one-man band with a drum machine and a boep, to recreate that beer tent vibe, but I don’t have to like it.

But don't let these songs put you off this album. Nadine's "Kaapse Draai", Arno Jordaan's "Sjoe", and many others are well worth the price of admission. And you'll love Die Campbells doing "Skaapboud Vastrap."

Despite the fact that its author seems to be veering more and more into territories that some people might find reactionary, “Steve se Spoeg Blog” is unquestionably the best blog by an SA musician, and one which shows the young guns of SA rock exactly how to do it. Basically, it’s an allegory for Steve’s success – blogging is all about slogging, you have to update every day. Steve’s put in those hard hours as a performer too, which is why he’s where he is.

I’ve been listening to Steve’s back catalogue to refresh my memory, and to get a feel for the originals, and one can only applaud the impulse to honour him with a covers album. As with most of these tribute projects, you’ll like some versions, and hate others. And I can't help wishing that we could get a Steve tribute album that takes a few more chances. I’d love to hear someone like Gert Vlok Nel covering "Laaste lag", or Kobus doing an over-the-top metal version of "No Hero." Alas, in the polarised frog pond of SA music, it’s not likely to happen.

- Chris Roper

After last year's disappointing Waarmaker, this tribute album is a timely reminder why we care about Steve. Like Ronaldo, ET and Madonna, Steve doesn’t need a surname. There’s only one Steve, and although some people will tell you that one Steve is more than enough, it’s still a sure sign – the man is a star.

What to read next: Kalahari

Philip 2008/04/14 8:52 AM
Review Like I've said before, you can't let an Englishman crit Afrikaans albums. I also don't like sokkie albums, but they sell. I think especially in Pretoria. Please don't make the mistake of thinking all afrikaans people are like Bulls supporters. I hate them as well.
Goda 2008/04/14 11:29 AM
Philip So you're saying don't have an opinion about anything except your own culture? Typical apartheid-driven response, probably from someone who hasn't liked the odd english person's opinion. Take it from where it comes, but have the good grace to let others do their own thinking. Sell? Morkels couches sell, too, and they're fugly. If good taste were popular, Zuma wouldn't be.
Piet-Skiet 2008/04/14 12:10 PM
Steve Off-course an Englishman can crit Afr. music. Just because a person is English doesn`t mean they are ignorant of other cultures. Look at Cecil J Rhodes, for he so loved the view from the Matoppas..that doesnt make him high and mighty....or does it?
chris roper 2008/04/14 2:10 PM
slightly odd That would mean I can't review American albums either. And I sure as hell have much more in common with Afrikaans culture than with American. Also, imagine if Die Burger wasn't allowed to review English movies - really doesn't make sense. I think, as long as you're sensitive to cultural differences, you should be okay.
NJ 2008/04/14 9:59 PM
NJ Im an English South African and I want to say that I love Steve Hofmeyer, I see him for what he is, he is a great singer (who has actually grown) over the years as a singer and presenter. I'm not a "sokkier" as Phillip depicts (what is my "culture?" seems u know better than me?) but somebody who likes seeing somebody who is South African succeding for being themselves. Wow who cares if u r a bulls supporter or not. Jealously makes u nasty
Dalene 2008/04/15 12:56 AM
Chris just doesn't get the music! Dear Chris With all due respect, your review was kind but so obvious that you should not be writing reviews on this kind of music. If you don't understand Steve's music then leave it to someone that does. It is so obvious from your review that you see him as just another Afrikaans singer (albeit a popular one). For your benefit and in the event that you have not yet cottoned on to this, Steve does not just sing words, he speaks emotion, emotions experienced by many people that find comfort in the fact that someone is giving expression to their feelings. Give it a rest and give this job to someone that understands....PLEASE
Chris 2008/04/15 9:38 AM
Understands? Dalene, are you telling me you want to retreat into a vacuum where only Die Burger thinks Afrikaans cultural products are valuable? It doesn't make sense, that kind of laager mentality. Surely Steve is worthy of being a South African star, rather than only an Afrikaans star? And I think my review explicitly states that Steve's message appeals to many people - I don't have to agree with the message to point that out.
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