1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Albert Frost”

Madcow – Dorp

Dorp

Dorp

Dorp began life calling themselves The Fauves and that early line-up included a certain Albert Loubser who would go on to fame as Albert Frost. A change of lead singer (the new one being Pieter Bezhuidenhout who has been the mainstay of the band since then) and a change of name followed and Dorp was born. In their early days they did rough and ready indie stuff which produced some interesting material, some of which has already been featuered on this list.

Then they relocated to London and hooked up with a French DJ called Fred Caiou who brought a dance angle to their songs. During this time, they recorded an EP called Boy/Girl which, as far as I can tell, was only available at their gigs. This 5 track disc included a little gem called ‘Madcow’. Playing on the mad cow disease scare which was particularly prevalent in the UK in the mid 80’s, the song also harks back to a 60’s dance crazy called the ‘Funky Chicken’ as Bezuidenhout asks ‘Why be a Madcow if you can be a funky chicken’. Presumably this is a call to not get too caught up in all the madness of what is going on around one but rather to get down and party!

This is all done over a funky dance beat putting one in mind of The Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive’ which also had a similar message about having a good time. ‘Madcow’ struts around with the confidence of John Travolta on a dance floor. It is absorbed in itself and lives up to the opening line of the song, ‘When it comes/I won’t even notice/I’ll be too busy looking good’ (which I have just discovered was a sample of some dialogue from the Bruce Lee movie ‘Enter The Dragon’). It is too busy looking (and sounding) good dancing around like a funky chicken. It is a track for those who have the moves to show them off and for those who don’t have the moves to show that off too because, its about looking good, even if it is only in one’s own eyes.

The band went on to sign to the UK label Caned & Able and recorded some heavier rock tracks like ‘London Out There’ which is also worth a listen. But I keep coming back to ‘Madcow’. It’s fun, it’s funky and it’s life-affirming. Unfortunately, it is a pretty difficult track to get hold of. I can’t find it anywhere out there. Hopefully one day, those boys vannie Dorp will put it up for our listening pleasure, but for the meantime, if you don’t have a copy of it, you’ll have to take my word that it is an SA song you should hear before you go deaf.

Where to find it:
Dorp – Boy/Girl (CD-R) (2001)

Die Donker Kom Jou Haal – Valiant Swart

Deur Die Donker Vallei - Valiant Swart

Deur Die Donker Vallei – Valiant Swart

Having a title that translates as ‘The darkness is coming to get you’ is probably not the best way to advertise a song. I mean who wants to be taken by darkness. But when you add Valiant Swart to the promotional package, you have to say, ‘well we should at least give it a try because Valiant is a class act.’ Furthermore, the track is off the ‘Deur Die Donker Vallei’, an album about which the great Koos Kombuis once said that it was the greatest Afrikaans album ever made.

So put aside your fears. All this talk of darkness coming to get you and going through dark valleys with a guy whose surname translates as black is not something to be afraid of. Despite all this darkness, ‘Die Donker Kom Jou Haal’ is blues and blues of the highest order. From the very first guitar note you are sucked into a desolate landscape with vast blue skies, wide open desert spaces and a dizzying sense of being very alive. Albert Frost’s laid back guitar swirls with Schalk Joubert’s bass in a dust devil created by Simon ‘Agent’ Orange’s Hammond organ. It is atmospheric music that is there to comfort while Valiant’s voice tells of nightmares and darkness. It has a sense of being lost is a hell-ish place, yet strangely being at ease with this because the music keeps you safe.

There is space in this song, there is comfort, there is darkness, there is bittersweetness. It is scary yet life-affirming. It is a song that touches the core of your soul and makes you wonder how beauty can be almost painful. You want to immerse yourself in it and never come out. It is arguably the best Afrikaans blues song every recorded (although Valiant’s ‘Die Mystic Boer’ does give it a good run for its money).

Where to find it:
Deur Die Donker Vallei – Valiant Swart (2002), Rhythm Records, SWART004

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