1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – Jessica Jones

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – Jessica Jones

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday - Jessica Jones

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday – Jessica Jones

‘Sunday, Monday, Tuesday’ was the second single from Jessica Jones. It followed up 1971’s ‘Baby I Love You’. The latter failed to chart on the Springbok Top 20, but did make the old LM Radio charts where it had a 27 week run. ‘Sunday, Monday, Tuesday’ gave her the SA Top 20 breakthrough, spending 26 weeks in total on the charts and topping them for 3 weeks from 11 August 1971. She was the first local woman to top the charts since Cornelia almost 4 years earlier. The next 4 local number 1’s were by women as well (Barbara Ray, Lauren Copley, Maria and Gwynneth Ashley Robin), so one could say this was a bit of a trend setting song.

It’s a bright and breezy pop tune with a bit of a stomp-along country rhythm going on. The latter sound seems to have stuck with Jessica as she re-recorded the song for her 2012 album ‘Coming Around Again’ where she has pushed it even more into that direction. The lyrics are as upbeat as the music, talking about enjoying every day as it comes.

In 1978 another local group, Sweet Promise, recorded a funky soul version of the song which they took to number 19 on the Springbok charts. This is also worth checking out as with only 3 days in the title, this song could not be called week.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 1 (1994) GMP, CDGMPD 40485 (CD)


Snippet of the Re-recorded version here:

Saved – Chris Chameleon

Saved – Chris Chameleon

Shine - Chris Chameleon

Shine – Chris Chameleon

After Boo! finally called it a day, it was not too surprising to see Chris Chameleon changing colours from a lead singer into a solo artist. With a voice like his, it would be a crime for him not to be singing. His first solo album ‘Ek Herhaal Jou’ was an Afrikaans offering, but with his second, ‘Shine’, we saw the ever changing Chameleon switch into English.

In the addendum to the book ‘1 001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die’, they give the 10 001 songs (that’s 9 000 extra songs in case you misread the “0”s) you must hear for those, like me, who just can’t get enough of lists. In amongst the extra songs is ‘Saved’ by Chris Chameleon, so it’s not just me that says you should hear this.

And why should you? It’s nothing like the quirky Boo! you came to love. Nor is it the more serious and quieter affairs that one found on ‘Ek Herhaal Jou’. And it doen’t feature some of the vocal gymnastics that he can get up to. It is a straight forward pop rock song with a slightly heavy beat, a foreboding voice on the verse which soars on the chorus and production tighter than some of the trousers that Chris wears. Perhaps not the most interesting track that he has produced in his various guises, but it is a song bursting with pop sensibilities, great hooks and as always, a sublime vocal performance. It is yet another side to this everchanging national treasure.

Where to find it:
Shine – Chris Chameleon (2006), Rhythm Records, RR070


This Weekend – The Dynamics

This Weekend – The Dynamics

The Dynamics

The Dynamics

In the early eighties in the UK Ska music came to the fore with bands like Madness, The Specials and The Selecter. In South Africa we enjoyed this style of music, but it never really took off. Madness were about the only band of this genre to have chart success on our shores, and even then it was a bit limited. Similarly, our own, homegrown talent in the form of The Dynamics, did not get much play on the radio and, with hindsight, we were poorer for that.

‘This Weekend’ was from the bands first incarnation (1980 – 1981) and is a joyful organ ‘n’ sax romp that is as life affirming as a Friday night on the town. The song goes further into the weekend, even making the Sunday morning hangover sound like a blast (although I imagine not many would recommend a dose of this song as a cure for a babalas).

Being a multi-racial band, there is a definite township inflection to the sound not found in the other ska that was around, and the song is richer for this. There’s a sort of African jazzy sound in the fine print of the song, making it a highly dance-able to track. The CD reissue offers you a choice of the instrumental version, or one which has Ian Botha on vocals. While both are worth a spin, Botha’s slightly plummy singing and the lyrics add to the overall affect, making it the prefereable one to listen to.

The Dynamics were a politically aware band and had to endure the scrutiny of the apartheid government’s secret service (as the sleeve note the the CD describes them “Remember those creepy, moustached thugs in bad clothes and white socks who used sit on the front-row tables with untouched beers and those unmistakable dikbek faces that never smiled?” – some secret huh!). But ‘This Weekend’ is not a political song, it’s jol-injected jive. To quote the seelvenotes of the CD once more ‘Time to switch it on and jive – again’

Where to find it:
The Dynamics – The Dynmaics (2001) Retrofresh, freshcd 111

Straight Ahead – Otis Waygood Blues Band

Straight Ahead – Otis Waygood Blues Band

Simply Otis Waygood

Simply Otis Waygood

‘Staight Ahead’ originally appeared on the 1971 album by The Otis Waygood Blues Band ‘Ten Light Claps And A Scream’ and eventually made it’s was onto the CD re-issue of ‘Simply Otis Waygood’ as a bonus track. Unlike most of the Waygood’s other material, this is an instrumental piece and Rob Zipper who normally tackled vocals, decided to put his mouth to good use, blowing away on a mean sax.

It does, however, sound as if Rob was sitting in a different room to the rest of the band as the sax is sort of muted and distant, but he does a wonderful job of running a three legged race with his brother Alan on bass as the two play the same tune and are essentially the driving force behind the song. Despite the bass and sax being the engine of the song, one must not forget the interludes where Leigh Sagar butts in with his guitars, adding some screech to the chatter of the Zipper brothers.

There is an overall down and dirty dub kind of sound which was not common in music back then, but did echo in a number of 80s indie bands like Pig Bag and A Certain Ratio. This song sounds like it is floating up from some dingy smoke-filled basement club, causing the pavement to vibrate to the beat. They weren’t just good these guys, they were waygood.

Where to find it:
Simply Otis Waygood – Otis Waygood Blues Band (2003), RetroFresh, freshcd 135


Don’t Play It No More – Don Stanton

Don’t Play It No More – Don Stanton

The Best Of SA Pop Vol 1

The Best Of SA Pop Vol

Don Stanton was born in Cape Town and was in a group called the Comrades. In 1969 he moved up to Johannesburg and toured with the African Follies show. After a car accident in 1971 he recorded some solo material which included the track ‘Don’t Play It No More’. The song made it on to the Springbok Radio charts, spending four weeks there and peaking at number 17.

According to the comments on the Youtube video of this song, he eventually moved to Portugal where he passed away sometime around 1994. There are 8 singles and 2 albums listed in his discography in Garth Chilvers & Tom Jasiukowics book ‘History Of Contemporary Music Of South Africa’ and they add that he managed the Casino nightclub in Durban for a while. And that is about it for the information available on Don.

Listening to ‘Don’t Play It No More’ you get the impression of someone who was passionate in a relaxed kind of way. The song is a lilting, slightly reggae-ish one that bounces along merrily like a stroll on a white sandy beach with the wind blowing gently. But on top of this you get Don’s yearning vocals begging you not to play ‘that song’ anymore. What that song is, we don’t know, but we do know it brings back painful memories to the singer.

Fortunately for Don, when it came to this song, the DJs ignored the instructions on the disc and played it all the way into our charts which ultimately had enough effect to be included in The Best Of SA Pop series.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 1 (1994) GMP, CDGMPD 40485 (CD)


Delilah – Koos

Delilah – Koos

Delilah - Koos

Delilah – Koos

No, this is not Koos Kombuis, it a group called Koos who appeared at the Houtstok Rockfees which was an Afrikaan music festival that took place on 31 May 1990 in Pretoria. One of the main forces behind the festival was Anton Goosen who shocked the crowd by opening with his song ‘Die Wit Kaffers Van Afrika’.

Koos were made up of Marcel Van Heerden, Gys de Villiers and conceptual artist Neil Goedhals, who were joined at times by Velile Nxazonke, Megan Kruskal, Christo Boshoff and Kendell Geers. They were part of the Voelvry movement, with 2 of their songs (‘Cowboy’ and ‘Sing Jy Van Bomme’) appearing on the original ‘Voelvry’ album.

At the concert they performed a rather strange cover of the Tom Jones hit ‘Delilah’. There are snarling guitars, off key singing and a steady drum beat. Compared to the slick production and shiny gloss that Jones put on the song, this is a down and dirty, almost sinister take on it. Koos seem to be taking the piss out of the original. Where Jones makes a clean and shiny song about murdering an unfaithful lover, Koos show it up for what it really is, a vicious attack on another human being. Given their political leanings, there could be a wider context to the choice of this song to cover, making a comment on the violence that was rife in the country at the time.

Sadly, Goedhals went on to commit suicide in the August of 1990, barely 3 months after the festival and the band called it a day. They did, however leave us a few bits and pieces of memories that one has to spend some time trying to find, but the results are worth it.

Where to find it:
The Black Tape – Koos (1986)
Houtstok Rockfees – Various (1996),Wildebeest/Gallo,WILD013

Koos Facebook page:

Download free from Sjambok Music here:


Building – Blk Sonshine

Building – Blk Sonshine

Blk Sonshine

Blk Sonshine


Masauko Chipembere and Neo Muyanga make up the wonderful band Blk Sonshine and when their eponymous debut album appeared on the scene, there was a lot of excitement. One music journo commenting something to the effect that the SA music scene had not seen an album as different and revolutionary (in a musical sense) since Juluka’s ‘Universal Man’. High praise indeed.

The album spawed 6 Top 20 hits on the SA Rockdigest Charts, one of which was ‘Building’ (AKA ‘Me And My People Building’) which peaked at number 4. Blk Sonshine played stripped down acoustic music, relying on the great harmonies of Masauko and Neo. The songs are full of life and sonshine. In some ways it was the antidote to kwaito that was building in popularity at the time, and it did for black music what PM Dawn and De La Soul did for rap music.

‘Building’ was a positive anthem for the New South Africa, with the lyrics talking about rebuilding the country. The vocals are emotional without being annoyingly so and they are underpinned by a staccato stum of the guitar. There is a scat choir that joins in as the song, err..,  builds and adds some handclaps for extra effect. If Jack Johnson had been a black South African, he may have sounded like this.

Where to find it:
Blk Sonshine – Blk Sonshine (2000), Fresh Music, FRESHCD105


Charlie (Ain’t Slavin’ 2 Da Habit) – Wonderboom

Charlie (Ain’t Slavin’ 2 Da Habit) – Wonderboom



When Rabbitt recorded ‘Charlie’ it was a ‘sleek Labrador with a shiny coat’ of a song. Wonderboom turned it into a snarling, growling pitbull. In the quarter of a century that passed between Rabbitt’s original and Wonderboom’ cover (yes it was that long), rock had been taken out the hands of the pretty boys and unceremoniously dumped into the laps of grungy, tat covered hardcore guys.

Another development in South African terms was the rise of kwaito in the townships and Wonderboom flavoured their hard edged rock sound with the kwaito beats to give us this pounding, snarling version of the old classic. Lead singer Cito and guitarist Martin Schofield battle it out in the vocal department, reaching their peak on the chorus with Cito taking control of the catchy chant of “Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!” while Martin’s blunter voice takes the rap-like “I ain’t slavin’ 2 da habit”.

Dad’s back in the 70’s would probably have worried about their daughters going out with those wild boys in Rabbitt, but after hearing this version, they would be crying out for a nice clean cut Rabbitt boy to take his daughter out, rather than letting these Wonderboom lads near her. However, musically, the ‘Booms took the classic song by the scruff of its neck and dragged it into the new millennium where it can now be heard kicking and screaming and having one helluva party. Apparently Patric van Blerk (who wrote the song) likes this version. And why not? It’s a great cover of a great song.

Where to find it:
Rewind – Wonderboom (2001), David Gresham Records, CDDGR 1533


Killer In The Crowd – Carte Blanche

Killer In The Crowd – Carte Blanche

Far Cry -Carte Blanche

Far Cry – Carte Blanche

After Flash Harry disbanded, Keith Berel went on to form Carte Blanche (2 years before the TV show of the same name hit your sceens) with Dieter Smith. They called in Kevin Kruger to produce their only album ‘Far Cry’ which spawned two magnificent singles – ‘Walk Away’ and ‘Killer In The Crowd’.
The story goes that to get round the SABC censorship, Berel submitted slightly adjusted lyrics to the actual ones, for their consideration, changing the line “I’m just a policeman, a martyr in blue” to “I’m just a please man, a tomato in blue” (from ‘Censorship & Cultural Regulation In The Modern Age’ edited by Beate Müller). This was because, in 1986, the SABC did not like policemen being mentioned in songs.

‘Killer In The Crowd’ is a juggernaut of a song. Staring with its dramatic guitar chords and ominous drums, it tumbles into a full on rock pop song that hurtles along, Berel’s voice bouncing in the cab, while the guitars and drums pound the tar. The whole thing is heading into the heart of a burning 1980’s township. But strangely the message being screamed from this hurtling machine is the message “Stop the fighting”.

The trick of the lyric sheet meant that ‘Killer In The Crowd’ managed to get some airplay, but not enough to propel it into any of the local radio station charts.

Where to find it:
Singles bins or a vinyl or cassette of ‘Far Cry’


Censorship & Cultural Regulation In The Modern Age

We’ve Got The Love – Dale Stephens

We’ve Got The Love – Dale Stephens

We’ve Got The Love - Dale Stephens

We’ve Got The Love – Dale Stephens

Dale was born in PE and spent some of his youth in Holland where he had limited success in the music biz with a band called Malta. He returned to South Africa and formed Freeze, eventually leaving them to go solo. He went on to become a two hit wonder, scoring firstly with ‘We’ve Got The Love’ and then again about 7 months later with ‘Slipping Out The Back Way’.

‘We’ve Got The Love’ was the more successful on the Springbok Radio Top 20, climbing to number 8 and spending 11 weeks on the chart. ‘Slipping Out The Back Way’ manged 7 weeks and peaked at 14. However, ‘Slipping…’ did mange to get onto the Radio 5 charts (peaked at 4) where ‘We’ve Got The Love’ didn’t chart.

The song has a Barry Manilow quality to it with a quieter, piano driven verse, building to a crescendo and chorus complete with strings and soaring vocals. Dale is joined on the vocals by an unknown female voice (anyone know who?) who at times threatens to take over as the star of this love song duet.

Stephens went on to produce more music, but none got the attention that ‘We’ve Got The Love’ and ‘Slipping Out The Back Way’ did.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 3 (1994) GSP, CDREDD 610

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