1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Alan Garrity”

He (Can Build A Mountain) – Peter Vee

He (Can Build A Mountain) – Peter Vee

He (Can Build A Mountain) – Peter Vee

Peter Vee has been around the South African music scene since the early 60’s. He was a member of The Invaders, The Four Dukes, Sons of She, The In Crowd, The Outlet and The Staccatos before striking out on his own and forging a successful solo career which produced 4 Springbok top 20 hits. The least successful of these 4 hits was ‘He (Can Build A Mountain)’ which spent 2 weeks at number 20.

The song appears to be a cover of one recorded by a band called Family Child who, I believe, were a German band that included as a member Bernd Vonficht who became better known in South Africa in the earlier 80’s as Bernie Paul having hits such as ‘Oh No no’ and ‘Night After Night’.

‘He (Can Build A Mountain)’ is a gospel/soul number which builds slowly on the back of a repeated refrain of lines starting with a syncopated ‘He’. The circular nature of this draws you into the song as it builds, like being slowly sucked into a whirlpool of warmth and joy. Undoubtedly it is a song of its time and fitted in well with the soul and gospel tinged sounds that were popular at the time (think Alan Garrity’s ‘Put Your Hand In The Hand’ and the earlier hit, Edwin Hawkins Singers ‘Oh Happy Day’).

There is not much to choose between Peter Vee’s version and that of Family Child as they are quite similar, but, of course, we would have known Peter’s version on our radios. There is also a cover by Joanna Field and Billy Forrest which one can find of Youtube. This sounds more like a more recent version (possibly early to mid 80’s) and is a little more like a church band version rather than the gospel choir-y versions from Peter and Family Child.

Of course you can choose which one you prefer, but as a clue to which one is my favourite, I can give you a hint – the Joanna Field and Billy Forrest version will not appear on this list. The title of the song says ‘He (Can Build A Mountain)’ but one could say of Peter Vee that ‘He (can Build A Good Song)’.

Where to find it:
Vinyl: The Tips Of My Fingers (1973), MFP, MFP54633

Video:

Home Isn’t Home Anymore – Alan Garrity

Home Isn’t Home Anymore – Alan Garrity

Home Isn’t Home Anymore – Alan Garrity

‘Home Isn’t Home Anymore’ was Alan Garrity’s 3rd song to make the Springbok Top 20. He had seen ‘Put Your Hand In The Hand’, his first top 20 hit, go to number 1, and then his second hit, ‘I Need Someone’, spent 33 weeks in the charts and that was an all time record for weeks in the top 20 (a few other songs broke this record but did so by adding weeks from time spent in positions 21 – 30 once the charts were extended to a top 30).

So ‘Home Isn’t Home Anymore’ had a lot to live up to. Sadly for Alan Garrity, it would not fare as well as its predecessors, but still spent a very respectable 16 weeks on the charts and peaked at 5.

In a way, one could say that Alan Garrity was the Engelbert Humperdinck of the South African music scene of the early 70’s as not only did he have an impressive chart record (as did Engelbert, his first 7 hits went top 5 in the UK and included 2 number 1’s) but Alan’s style was very similar – big songs with a grand orchestral sound underpinning a strong vocal that soars on the chorus. And this is what you get with ‘Home Isn’t Home Anymore’ which fits perfectly into this formula. It has the strings, the building chorus and the almost simple waltz like time to the rhythm.

It would have made a good song for the first dance at a wedding reception back then, except for the fact that the lyrics are about a love that has left with the man pining for the return of his (presumably) wife. Perhaps if one had a divorce reception, this may have been the track to have the first dance to.

Where to find it:
Yesterday’s Best Vol 2, 1995, Teal, MORCD536

Video:

Santa Maria – Alan Garrity

Santa Maria – Alan Garrity

Santa Maria – Alan Garrity

After his 1975 hit with ‘She’s My Woman’ Alan Garrity’s career waned somewhat as that would be his last hit in the 70s. He had been very successful up to then having had 6 Springbok top 20 hits, topping the charts with ‘Put Your Hand In The Hand’ and holding the record for number of weeks in the chart by a song with ‘I Need Someone’ spending 33 weeks in the top 20 and this went on to become the all time record for a song spending time in the top 20 (Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton’s ‘Islands In the Stream’ managed 36 weeks in the charts , but that included time in positions 21 to 30 once the charts were extended).

After ‘She’s My Woman’, we didn’t see Garrity on the charts again until 1981 where he returned with ‘Santa Maria’, a cover of a song which had been a hit for Italian chaps Guido & Maurizio De Angelis who went under the name Oliver Onions. Their version topped the German charts for 6 weeks and was immediately followed by a German version by Roland Kaiser which was at number 1 there for 5 weeks.

Listening to the Oliver Onions version may come as a bit of a shock to those who have only heard the Alan Garrity version as the lyrics (in Italian) are sung in a high pitched falsetto voice, but those looking for a more familiar sound in their cover versions would find the Roland Kaiser one closer to the Garrity version.

‘Santa Maria’ is a pleasant song telling the story of a sailor returning home to his wife and child after a long absence which was rather fitting as it returned Garrity to the charts after a lengthy time away. It climbed to number 4 and spent 11 weeks in the top 20.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – Yesterday’s Best Vol 3, 1995, Teal, MORCD563

Video:
Alan Garrity:

Oliver Onions:

Roland Kaiser:

I Won’t Give Up – Bruce Millar

I Won’t Give Up – Bruce Millar

I Won’t Give Up – Bruce Millar

Like a number of ‘local’ acts, Bruce Millar was actually born in what was then Rhodesia. But he moved to SA and his musical career took off then, so I have regarded him as a local lad. Not only did he have a successful career as a musician with 2 top 20 hits (including ‘1 Won’t Give Up) he also won a Gallo award for his role as Jesus in the musical Godspell.

‘I Won’t Give Up’ was an English version of an Italian song called ‘Inno’ which was recorded by Mia Martini in 1974. That original is a quiet, almost classical hymn like affair, but Millar’s version is more rock ballad with a march like beat to it. There is an organ and piano that underpin the song while Millar’s strong vocal (similar to Alan Garrity) add extra oomph to this strong rock-pop tune. The song is a builder, starting somewhat quietly, but with each verse, more is added to the mix with lush orchestration, an electric guitar and then backing vocals which give power to the track.

‘I Won’t Give Up’ spent 19 weeks on the Springbok Radio Top 20 and 6 of those weeks were at the top spot. The song also topped the charts in Rhodesia. Millar, who has also won a SARI for best male vocalist, has become one of the stalwarts of the SA Entertainment scene, doing a lot of work as a broadcaster. He was born in 1945 and is still going so it seems he meant it when her said, ‘I Won’t Give Up’.

Where to find it:
Yesterday’s Best Vol 1, 1995, Teal, MORCD502

Video:

She’s A Woman – Neil Herbert

She’s A Woman - Neil Herbert

She’s A Woman – Neil Herbert

It would be worrying if this song was entitled ‘He’s A Woman’, as that would have meant that Boy George would have recorded it and we would not be able to lay claim to this love song, which gently swings back and forth, a bit like lying in a hammock, enjoying a beautiful sunset and sipping on a cocktail.

The song was written by Eddie Storbeck and would spent 22 weeks in the Springbok top 20, spending 31 January 1975 at number 1. Neil Herbert had been in the band The Attraction (remember ‘Scooby Dooby Dum Dum Day’) and he brings a sort of Elvis-y croon to the verses, then soaring into a smooth Engelbert Humperdinck-ness on the choruses. Sadly, Neil is no longer with us, but there seem to be 2 versions of how he died. The Chilvers/Jaisukowicz book, ‘History Of Contemporary Music Of South Africa’ says he died in a plane crash in 1979 while someone on the Youtube video of the song says he was a family friend and took his own life because he could not cope with his arthritis.

‘She’s My Woman’ should not be confused with Alan Garrity’s ‘She’s My Woman’ which appeared on the scene in the August of 1975. It is possible that Garrity (who penned his own hit) enjoyed Herbert’s song so much that he wanted to lay claim to this woman that Herbert sang of with so much passion. Whether this is the case or not, you should take Herbert’s woman to heart and enjoy the song.

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

Video:

Put Your Hand In The Hand – Alan Garrity

Put Your Hand In The Hand – Alan Garrity

Put Your Hand In The Hand - Alan Garrity

Put Your Hand In The Hand – Alan Garrity

The 70’s in America was a time when there were a lot of “Christian” songs floating around the popular music scene. ‘Put Your Hand’ was one of these and encourages people to grab the hand of Jesus (The Man From Galilee). This Gospel number has all the feel of an old traditional one, but was actually written in 1970 by Gene MacLennan and was first recorded by Anne Murray. It has subsequently been recorded by such luminaries as Joan Baez, Elvis Presley and Donny Hathaway. However, it was a Canadian group called Ocean that had the biggest hit with it, taking their version to number 2 in US. Their one features a mix of male and female vocals.

Alan Garrity’s version is a well-executed one. He delivers a strong vocal performance and his voice has a slight Elvis sound on this recording. His version topped the South African charts in1973 and stayed there for 4 weeks. The mystery that I have not been able to resolve though, is who sings the female vocals on this version. Anyone out there know?

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

Video:
Alan Garrity

Anne Murray

Joan Baez

Elvis Presley

Ocean

Donny Hathaway

Lyrics:

Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water
Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea
Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently
By puttin your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.

Everytime I look into the Holy Book I wanna tremble
When I read about the part where a carpenter cleared the temple
For the buyers and the sellers were no different fella’s than what I
professed to be
And it causes me shame to know I’m not the people we should be

Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water
Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea
Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently
By puttin your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.

Mama taught me how to pray before I reached the age of seven
And when I’m down on my knees, that’s when I’m close to heaven
Daddy lived his life for two kids and a wife, but you do what you must do
But he showed me enough of what it takes to get me through

Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water
Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea
Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently
By puttin your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.

Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water
Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea
Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently
By puttin your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee.

(Written by Gene MacLennan)

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