National Madness – The Aeroplanes
The Aeroplanes never really took off in South Africa, well not to the masses, but they were one of those shifty Shifty groups that did well in the ‘alternative’ or ‘underground’ music scene. It’s not too difficult to see why they never hit the mainstream, their music is too angular and unpolished and their lyrics were too close to the bone for the average South African. And that is what made them so good. Despite their lack of polish and their music being somewhat jolting, they still managed to inject the songs with some great lo-fi tunes. Their songs had genius written all over them.
‘National Madness’, by it’s very title, would not have garnered much (if any) airplay. The fact that this song first appeared on the End Conscription Campaign’s (“ECC”) tongue-in-cheekly titled album ‘Forces Favourites’, would also not have helped its cause (but did help the ECC’s).
There are two versions of the song to choose from. The one that appears on The Aeroplanes’ ‘Greatest Hits’ has sad but angry vocals which are applied to raw beats and bandaged up with bruised guitars. It is an open wound of a song where you can feel the hurt. A second version which appears on the ‘Shotdown’ compilation and re-issue of ‘Forces Favourites’ is a slightly smoothed over one with a burping sax and a female backing vocal is thown in. This does take away some of the edge of the original, but none of the venom. Either way, the song worms itself into your brain, unsettling you slightly and doing what all good music does, makes you think.
Where to find it:
Shot Down (Resistance Music from Apartheid South Africa) – Various Artists (2006),Shifty Records
Greatest Hits – The Aeroplanes, (No label or year given) CDCJM001
Forces Favourites – Various Artists (1986), Shifty Records (SHIFT10)