1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Bowtie Boogaloo – Morocko

Bowtie Boogaloo – Morocko (Chic and Tired)



Slightly glitzy, slightly sleazy, slighty honky tonky, Bowtie Boogaloo has a strange appeal from the first piano chords. Morocko were somewhat of a South African super group that featured JB Arthur, Jethro Butow, Les Goode, Cedric Samson, John Galankis and Mike Faure on sax. They may not all be well known names to you, but if you have studied the sleeve notes of many South African albums, particularly of the 70’s and 80’s, you will see these names appear on a regular basis.

‘Bowtie Boogaloo’ tells the story of the glitz and glamour of the formal dance, but there is a slightly disturbing undercurrent in the lyrics. All is not as it seems and the lascivious way in which JB sings ‘Mrs Chamberlain’ (my personal highlight in the song), brings in a slightly greasy feel to this otherwise polished song.

There is also a feeling of things being worn out, “last year’s girdle” and “toupees” hint at this. But the listener doesn’t get to share this feeling as the slick piano driven music remains upbeat and leaves you feeling like you should get on the dancefloor and (in the words of Adrian Cronauer*) ‘Boogaloo till you puke.’

* Robin Williams’ character in Good Morning Vietnam, in case you forgot.

Where to find it:

Morocko (1981) LP: Trutone, marketed by Polydor, POLY 5522

Not available on CD as far as I know, so get down to your local second hand shop.

Lyrics (approximately – apologies to JB Arthur for any errors):

Here they go again
With their made up faces
And Social Graces
On show again
In their party suits
And their boogie boots

She wears last year’s girdle, Fabergé
He’s got his grey tuxedo
And his new Toupee
They’re away

They’re going to do the Bowtie Boogaloo
Can’t you feel a body sway
You can lose a life of loves
Dance all your pain away
Everybody loves a bowtie boogaloo
Diamonds flash across the floor
In a world of broken hearts
Who could ever ask for more

Oh Mrs Chamberlain
Why she’s so vivacious
My goodness gracious
He’s gone again
He just can’t resist
The sweet honey kiss
But she tells him lies
And Mr A
He’ll have to save his kisses
For another day
That’s a game

They play down yonder to the bowtie boogloo
Can’t you feel a body sway
You can lose a life of loves
Dance all your pain away
Everybody love the bowtie boogaloo
Glances flash across the floor
In a room of lonely hearts
Who could ever ask for more

Give me more

(Guitar solo)

So they cruise on home
They’ve got their feeling
May never return
But they know their will is the thrill

Winning or losing to the bowtie boogaloo
Can’t you feel a body sway
You can lose a life of loves
Dance all your pain away
Everybody loves the bowtie boogaloo
Diamonds  flash across the floor
In a room of lonely hearts
Who could ever ask for more

(JB Arthur)


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4 thoughts on “Bowtie Boogaloo – Morocko

  1. William on said:

    Also available on LP Records “Pop Shop 13” released in 1981

  2. Derek Hutton on said:

    Along with Ballyhoo, Morocko were probably one of the greatest bands to come out of S.A.
    They all had such incredible talent. Jethro Butow on lead guitar, had no peers.

    I have great memories of the good old days in 1981, when they played at Plumb Crazy in Jeppe Street. What a vibe that was !!

  3. A good friend and fellow muso Steve Swan(RIP) introduced me to J.B. Arthur.
    Him and J.B. had a very successful two piece group going at the time called Arthur & Swan. When Morocko played in Pretoria I was there and I tell you I totally freaked out. I recall bumping into Cedric Samson and telling him that I thought
    it was the best local band I’ve ever seen.

  4. Derek Hutton on said:

    Morocko are still, to this day, the best SA Band ever, to grace a stage. They were a bunch of super talented musicians who played a season at Plumb Crazy in Jeppe Street in 1981. and I still haven’t heard better local talent to this day. It’s a pity they weren’t given the credit they deserved or more exposure by the media.

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