1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Potential Mutiny – Stan James

Forces Favourites

Forces Favourites

‘Potential Mutiny’ was one of the tracks on the ‘Forces Favourites’ protest album. The album was supported by the End Conscription Campaign and included songs by The Kalahari Surfers, The Aeroplanes and Jennifer Ferguson. Stan James was one of a number of acts on the album about whom little was known at the time, and generally still is.

Stan was the brother of Davy James who released the marvellous ‘Ballad Of A Working Man’. Aside from ‘Potential Mutiny’ Stan also contributed to the other great Shifty Records compilation, ‘A Naartjie In Our Sosatie’. This appears to be the sum total of his musical output back in the 80’s. More recently he has released a new track on bandcamp.com called ‘Our God’.

There is a dark and brooding jazzy sound to ‘Potential Mutiny’ as James explores the unsettling and violent tactics of the apartheid government’s henchmen, arresting and interrogating people suspected of being anti-government. ‘Before dawn has broken/there’s a knock you can’t ignore/you’re taken until they have/all they need to know’ spells out the fear and intimidation people had to live with. The music to accompany these hard hitting lyrics is subdued and thoughtful while James’ voice mixes pain and sadness at these injustices.

The song does not make comfortable listening as there is unease in voice and music. But that was the point of the song and the whole of the ‘Forces Favourites’ album, we were not supposed to feel at ease with what was happening around us and of all the tracks on the album, ‘Potential Mutiny’ perhaps captures this unease best. It drags you into that dark cell with a threat of violence looming over you. It was a track designed to open our eyes.

Where to find it:
Forces Favourites – Various Artists (1986), Shifty Records, SHIFT10

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