He’s Gonna Step On You Again – John Kongos
After his success in South Africa as part of Johnny & The G-Men, Johnny lost the ‘ny’ at the end of his first name and headed off to the UK where he recorded with Gus Dudgeon (who had been working with Elton John) and ended up with 2 UK hits with ‘Tokoloshe Man’ peaking at 4 after ‘He’s Going To Step On You’ had also managed to peak at 4 about 6 months earlier. The latter would also make the US charts, peaking at 70 there.
With its pounding drums and roaring guitar, there is something primal about the track which stomped along with the best glam of the era which bands like The Sweet, Slade and T Rex were churning out at the time. But Kongos took something of Africa with him as there are shades of Hawk (or Joburg Hawk to some) and Freedom’s Children in this classic.
And such was the impact of the song that it spawned a 1987 cover by Aussie band The Party Boys (which topped the charts in Australia where Kongos’ version only made it to 2) and another (also in 1987) by The Chantoozies (also an Aussie band). That one made it to 36 in Australia. And then in 1990 The Happy Mondays released a version which made it to 5 in the UK (but only 157 (apparently) in Australia). In terms of these covers, I would go for The Party Boys version if you are looking for one closest to the original, The Chantoozies if you want a lighter version to dance to in a late 80’s kind of way and The Mondays version if you want to get spaced out on ecstasy and muddle through it. But for me, the original is by far the best version. It rocks.
Kongos set the standard for pounding pop rock for South African artists (as opposed to pounding straightforward rock which Freedom’s and Hawk offered) and years later his sons would pick up on this as, recording under the name Kongos, they brought that sound up to date with their classics such as ‘Come With me Now’ and ‘I’m Only Joking’. But if you want to get back to basics, put on the original John Kongos one, stomp those platform boots and lose yourself in a core of primal rock.
Where to find it:
Tokoloshe Man Plus – John Kongos (1988), See For Miles, SEECD221