1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the category “Four Jacks and A Jill”

Jimmy Come Lately – Four Jacks & A Jill

Jimmy Come Lately – Four Jacks & A Jill

Jimmy Come Lately – Four Jacks & A Jill

Four Jacks & A Jill have been one of the longest surviving groups to come out of the South African music scene. They formed in 1964 and still occasionally perform. A couple of years after getting together, they saw their first Springbok Top 20 success with ‘Jimmy Come Lately’, a cover of ‘Ginny Come Lately’ which was a US number 21 hit in 1962 for Brian Hyland.

Ginny had a sex change, presumably because Glenys Lynne, the lead singer for Four Jacks & A Jill, was a female, while Brian Hyland was singing about his girl. So Ginny became Jimmy. And Four Jacks & A Jill speed up the song slightly as Hyland’s version is like a slow stroll along the promenade, while Four Jacks and A Jill skip through a field with Jimmy. This song set the tone for all their hits that were to follow. There is the purity of Glenys Lynne’s voice, the 60’s pop sensibilities in the instrumentation and an overall feeling of all things good. It is honey in the shape of a 7” single. Even the short organ interlude in the song keeps things sweet without being sickly so. It also does not venture into the more psychedelic direction that Hammond organs were taken in around that time.

The song would get to number 2 and spend 12 weeks on the Springbok charts, which was an excellent start for a band which would go on to be the top performing local artist on the charts in the 60’s (they ended up being the top performing group by the time the charts ended, but were beaten by Barbara Ray, Alan Garrity and Billy Forrest). It is a little ironic that ‘Jimmy Come Lately’ came early in their career as usually things that come late miss out. But for Four Jacks & A Jill, they did not miss out and in the words of another woman with a voice of honey, Karen Carpenter, they could well have sung, We’ve Only Just Begun’.

Where to find it:
The Heart And Soul Of – Four Jacks & A Jill (2001), Gallo, CDREDD 661

Video:

Master Jack – Four Jacks & A Jill

Master Jack - Four Jacks & A Jill

Master Jack – Four Jacks & A Jill

‘Master Jack’ has been one of the most successful South African songs on the US Billboard charts. Yes, we had seen Hugh Masakela top the US charts with ‘Grazing In The Grass’, but that was recorded and produced in the US while the Four Jacks & A Jill version of ‘Master Jack’ was completely recorded and produced in South Africa. With its simple guitar tune, Glenys Lynne’s innocent vocals and positive lyrics, the song made its way to number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would also make it to number 33 in Germany as the band recorded a German version of it. This would inspire cover versions by the likes of Trini Lopez and German singer Heidi Bruhl.

The song was written by David Marks and some interpretations of the lyrics are that it was referring to BJ Vorster, who would become the Prime Minister of South Africa, while others think that it related to Hendrik Verwoed, the architect of apartheid. Some say that Master Jack refers to a mine foreman, an interpretation that holds water as Marks did work on the mines. Marks himself has also said that the assassination of Hendrik Verwoed helped him to complete the song, so it seems there are a number of ‘faces’ to this Master Jack.

However you chose to interpret the song, nothing can take away the beauty and simplicity of the Four Jacks & A Jill version which is a gentle track that floats on a cloud of melancholy with a pensive angel on lead vocals, harmonising with the other angels who have traded in their harps for a folk guitar. ‘Master Jack’ is a South African classic and will be with us for a long time, as long as we live in a strange, strange world.

Where to find it:
The Heart And Soul Of – Four Jacks & A Jill (2001), Gallo, CDREDD 661

Video:

Master Jack – David Marks

Hidden Years - David Marks

Hidden Years – David Marks

Sometimes it’s better to have someone else sing the songs you write and when you listen to David Marks working his way through this classic tune that he penned you can’t help yearing for the flowery pop of the Four Jacks and the beautiful voice of Jill (Glenys Lynne). However, there is something strange, strange and alluring about this version which can be found on David Marks’ album ‘The Hidden Year’.

He slows the song down, dismisses that lovely plucked guitar work and replaces it with a lush orchestration and electric guitar. It must also be said that Marks does not have the best singing voice (but better than some that have committed their voice to vinyl – Anneline Kriel springing immediately to mind) and he puts emphasis on words in what I would regard as strange, strange places.

Despite all this, Marks’ version is interesting as it gives one an insight into perhaps how the song originally sounded in his mind and its not often you get to hear this where the artist who had a hit with a song is not the one who wrote it. And here we get the idea that this song was about the beauty of the world around us, not only from the lyrics, but from the way Marks sings and arranges this version. There is a sense of a person in a beautiful landscape, with a wide sky full of stars above them, slowly swirling round to take it all in. There is a depth to this version that Four Jacks and A Jill’s one never had. Both are great tracks to listen to, Four Jacks for those frivolous moments when you don’t feel like deeper feelings, but just want to be happy, and Marks’ version for when you want to sit back and contemplate life, the universe and everything.

Where to find it:
David Marks – The Hidden Years – Songs from 1964 to 1994, 3rd Ear Music, 3eM CD 003

Ramaja – Glenys Lynne

Ramaja – Glenys Lynne (A yes to margarine – Rama, ja.)

Glenys Lynne - Ramaja

Glenys Lynne – Ramaja (image courtesy of Suid-Afrikaanse Musiek Blog)

Glenys was possibly better known as Jill as she was the female in Four Jacks and A Jill, but she did have some solo success. In fact Ramaja became the only totally Afrikaans song to top the Springbok Top 20 (David Kramer’s ‘Hak Hom Blokkies’ did have an Afrikaans chorus, but the refrains were in English) and that is what makes it important to listen to.

The song is bright, breezy and bouncy and probably had many a sokkie jol bopping in no time. It could well have featured in the Eurovision song competition if South Africa had been part of Europe as it has that candy floss flavour and the requisite strange words like ‘Hikka Tikka Prrr’ that are essential in any song entering that competition.

Strangely, the lyrics didn’t seem to cause a furore in apartheid South Africa with a good clean cut white girl seeking the help of a witch doctor to protect her man and bring him back to her. Perhaps the request to protect and bring back her love hinted at the plight of women whose men had headed off to the border and that sentiment saved the song from criticism.

No matter the reason for it not being criticised, it had some impact as in more recent times girl group Shine 4 have covered it.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 1 (1994) GMP, CDGMPD 40485 (CD)

Video:

Glenys Lynne:

Shine 4:

Lyrics:

Hikka Tikka Prrr Ha Ha Ha
Hikka Tikka Prrr Ramaja

Ramaja!
Sy naam was Ramaja.
Hy kom uit Afrika.
Ek wil hom gunste vra.
Wo-wo-wo

Ramaja!
Toordokter Ramaja, sal jy vir my kan sê: “Waar liefde lê”?
Hikki Prrr Mapah, as jy dolosse gooi.
La-la-la-la-la
Hikki Prrr Mapah, om die vure rooi.
La-la-la-la-la

Rondom drom want die donker wil.
La-la-la-la-la
Hikki Prrr Mapah, is die liefde koud?
La-la-la-la-la
Vra die eerste honderd bewaar.
Hou hom weg van alle gevaar.
Ek sien hom, hy’s my behoud.
Bring hom terug na my.

Ramaja.
Toordokter Ramaja, sal jy vir my kan sê: “Hoe ver die liefde lê”?
Wo-wo-wo

Rajama!
Jou naam is Ramaja.
Jy kom uit Afrika.
Ek wil jou vra.

Hikki Prrr Mapah, bring die moetie gou.
La-la-la-la-la
Hikki Prrr Mapah, waar die dop laat brou.
La-la-la-la-la
Gee my ‘n twee punte towerwoord.
La-la-la-la-la
Hikki Prrr Mapah, met ‘n liefdes skoot.
La-la-la-la-la
Vra die eerste honderd bewaar.
Hou hom weg van alle gevaar.
Ek sien hom, hy’s my behoud.
Bring hom terug na my.

Hikka Tikka Prrr Ha Ha Ha
Hikka Tikka Prrr
Hikka Tikka Prrr Ha Ha Ha
Hikka Tikka Prrr Ramaja
Hikka Tikka Prrr Ha Ha Ha
Hikka Tikka Prrr Ramaja

Ramaja!
Vra die eerste honderd bewaar.
Hou hom weg van alle gevaar.
Ek voel te koud, hy’s my behoud.
Bring hom terug na my.

Ramaja!
Toordokter Ramaja, sal jy vir my kan sê: “Hoe ver die liefde lê”?
Wo-wo-wo-wo

Rajama!
Jou naam is Ramaja.
Jy kom uit Afrika.
Ek wil jou vra.
La-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la
La-la-la-la-la

(Music and lyrics: deur Simone/Regal/Van Rensburg)

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