The Watch – Tribe After Tribe
When the Asylum Kids broke up in 1982, Robbi Robb went on to form Tribe After Tribe. Their first album made a statement purely with its title – ‘Power’. And that’s what they made – powerful music. ‘The Watch’ is one of those controlled anger songs. One can feel the venom in the song, but you can’t really put a finger on what the menace is. Is it the thump-thump thump of the bass, or the steady barrage of drums? It could be, but can you dance to anger? Perhaps it’s the guitars that snarl and growl around the beat. But it’s too tuneful to feel fully angry. There is an eerie synth that seems to want to escape from the song, heading off at landscape tangents and that just helps one to not identify the anger.
This leaves the lyrics and vocals. The former, if they contain the answer, are too cryptic for one to say with certainty. I mean what does ‘Sum up the fading decadent stallion/behind the door lost in snow’ signify? Or ‘cat’s on the rhine’ for that matter. The vocals are probably the closest one gets to seeing the anger without any disguise. Robb’s voice sounds angry. He could make ‘Unchained Melody’ sound like a hate song if he wanted, he has one of those voices. But even here, he’s not cranked that element up to full.
This leaves one with two options. Either ‘The Watch’ is not an angry song, it’s just a pleasant rock song by one of South Africa’s premier bands of the 80s. Or it is angry, but Robbi is just too good at disguising it. Either way, there is no denying that this is a powerful song as it thunders along. ‘The watch is in line’ Robbie tells us. In line with what? In line with all the other damn fine songs that Tribe To Tribe recorded.
Where to find it:
Power – Tribe After Tribe (2003), Fresh Musci, FRESHCD140
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