Hard Hat Jive – Tananas (Construction time again)
Steve Newman is a national treasure. Between him and Tony Cox (whom he often collaborates with), they seem to have sewn up the ‘classical’ style of guitar playing. I use the word ‘classical’ for want of a better word as it is more in the style of playing than in sound. When Steve was not producing solo material, or jamming with his mate Tony, he would get hold of Ian Herman and the late Gito Baloi to record under the name of Tananas.
As Tananas, he could flesh out his plucking with some bass and drums, giving the music a bigger sound. Their eponymous debut album appeared on the legendary Shifty label and contained ‘Hard Hat Jive’, a bouncy piece that is as good as any to introduce the uninitiated into the world of Tananas. The song was included in the addendum to a recent book called ‘1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die’. The addendum which included ‘Hard Hat Jive’ listed the 10,001 songs you must download.
It starts off with a jazzy intro of drums, followed quickly by Gito’s bass and Steve’s guitar joins in moments later. The version on the album ‘Tananas’ shows the simple beauty of what the band did, but another version can be found on the album ‘Alive In Jo’burg’. This is more polished and features a pennywhistle solo as well, so which version to choose? It really depends on whether you like your Tananas raw, or well done.
Where to find it:
Tananas – Tananas (1988), Shifty, CDSHIFT(WL)26
Alive In Jo’burg (2001), Epic, CDEPC8171
Great South African Performers (2012), Gallo, CDPS 035