1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Astral Daze”

My Back Feels Light/What Can You Say – Abstract Truth

Abstract Truth

Abstract Truth

Jazzy, funky, strutty and that’s the Abstract Truth. Or rather one should say, that’s ‘My Back Feels Light/What Can I Say’ by the Abstract Truth’. This slightly obscure track appeared on the super difficult to get hold of album ‘Cool Sounds For Heads’, however we are fortunate enough to be able to catch this one on the brilliant ‘Astral Daze’ compilation from Retro Fresh.

‘My Back Feels Light/What Can I Say’ by the Abstract Truth’ moves between the laid back intro (think Jack Johnson for a modern equivalent), but then throws in some brassy sounds before going into a jazzy Hammond organ interlude. It then moves into the second part of the song, ‘What Can You Say’ which is introduced with a quacking saxophone and the organ moves from jazzy to a more frenzied 60’s psychedelic sound.

This is a song full of changing moods and sounds and it keeps the listener engagae from start to finish. If we didn’t know better, one could be forgiven for thinking this came from the ‘Woodstock’ soundtrack as it has a similar feel. Ken E. Henson, who is credited with guitars and vocals on the album, has been around the SA music scene for a long time and this little lost (and refound on ‘Astral Daze’) masterpiece is a great example of his contribution. What (more) can you say?

Where to find it:
Astral Daze – Various Artists, RetroFresh, (2005), FRESHCD148

Predictions – Hawk

Hawk (Aka Joburg Hawk)

Hawk (Aka Joburg Hawk)

To include or not to include, that seems to have been the question that surrounded Hawk’s ‘Predictions’. The song originally appeared on the original 1972 South African vinly release of ‘Africa She Too Can Cry’ but did not make it onto the 1973 European vinyl release (yes the album was released outside our borders with the band taking on the name Joburg Hawk). It reappeared on an unofficial Japanese CD release of the album (circa 1998) but disappeared again when Retrofresh released the album locally on CD. So, who can, erm, predict what the next release will bring.

The song itself is a dense affair with claustrophobic and booming guitars, tumbling drums that fuzz out of the speaker, just on the right side of distortion, but with enough haze about the sound to be slightly unnerving. And over this soaring like a, erm, hawk, is the voice of Dave Ornellas. Back in the day, Dave had a wild bush of hair on his head and a voice that sounded as of it had been dragged through a wild bush. Its ragged sound only offset by it boom and it sort of sits somewhere between Ozzy Osbourne and Joe Cocker.

‘Predictions’ is a song that pummels you into liking it by is sheer force. It is an intense affair that you can, thankfully, find on the Retrofresh compilation Astral Daze. Perhaps they realised the mistake they made in leaving it off the ‘Africa She To Can Cry’ CD and with the wonders of modern technology and playlists, you can put it back in it’s rightful place as track 3.

Where to find it:
Astral Daze – Various Artists, RetroFresh, (2005), FRESHCD148


The End – Dickie Loader & Freedom’s Children

Dickie Loader - A Breath Of Fresh Air

Dickie Loader – A Breath Of Fresh Air

People sometimes use the word ‘searing’ to describe a guitar lick. The definition of searing is ‘extremely hot or intense’ which I guess is quite an apt way to try and explain the guitar sound that seems to tear through your speakers as soon as ‘The End’ starts. It is an extrememly intense moment that kick starts this collaboration between Dickie Loader and Freedom’s Children.

Loader had been around on the local scene for a while as Dickie Loader & The Blue Jeans, but one day he dropped his Blue Jeans and, avoiding any public indecency charges, forged a solo career. However, with this offering from 1970, he teamed up with those Astral rockers, Freedom’s Children, for a couple of tracks on his album ‘A Breath Of Fresh Air’. The result if the familiar dense wall of rock that the Chidren were capable of producing, over which Loader seems to manange to mix Robert Plant’s voice with that of Elvis to get a rock ‘n roll ‘n metal effect. The result is 2 and a half minutes of, well, there isn’t really any other words for it, but ‘searing rock’.

Most of Loader’s material has been confined to vinyl history, however, this is one of the few gems from him that have managed to make it into the digital era thanks to Benjy Mudie at Retrofresh records who dug this one out of the vault to include in the second in the series of Astral Daze albums, a series which captures the best of an era when guitars were fuzzy and loud and vocals were overdosing on testosterone. The inclusion of ‘The End’ on ‘Astral Daze 2’ is testament to the song being one of the standout tracks of its era.

Where to find it
Astral Daze 2 – Various Artists, RetroFresh, (2009), FRESHCD162


Magic Dragon – The Idiots

The Idiots

The Idiots

Warning: this song is not ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’. However it is a trippy little ditty that is somewhat reminiscent of some of the Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd songs (‘The Gnome’ for example). It has a strange childish feel to it with the subject matter being the stuff of kid’s books, and there is an innocent piano riff which could almost be the soundtrack to a nursery rhyme.

Those of you who are familiar with The Idiots only SA Top 20 hit, ‘In The Park’ may find ‘Magic Dragon’ a little surprising as the former is a breezy poppy number, but it does have a hint of what the latter delivers in that there is a brief organ interlude that wonders to the border of the world of pop and gazes at the land of psychdelia. On ‘Magic Dragon’ the Idiots pack their bags and cross that line.

The singer invites you to ‘climb upon my magic dragon/trip along in space’ and the sounds are ethereal and otherworldly and promise a strange journey. But it’s a ride worth taking. Don’t worry it’s only a 2 minute 11 second trip so you won’t get too much motion sickness from the weirdness of the song, but you should have a little smile on your dial when it’s over. The song originally appeared on the b-side of their single ‘Toyland’.

Where to find it:
Astral Daze – Various Artists, RetroFresh, (2005), FRESHCD148

The Eagle Has Landed – Dickie Loader & Freedom’s Children

The Eagle Has Landed – Dickie Loader & Freedom’s Children

The Eagle Has Landed - Dickie Loader

The Eagle Has Landed – Dickie Loader

This unlikely teaming up of a rock ‘n’ roller with a prog rock outfit
produced a startling result.  Dickie Loader started making records in
the early 60’s with his band The Blue Jeans. This music tended to be
covers of rock ‘n’ roll classics like ‘High School Confidential’,
‘Summertime Blues’, and ‘Sea Of Heartbreak’. But when the decade
rolled over, he went into the studio without his Blue Jeans (hopefully
he was wearing other trousers) and produced an aptly entitled album
called ‘A Breath Of Fresh Air’.

Three of the tracks on this album featured Freedom’s Children, those
heavy rockers of ‘Astra’ fame. The results were quite possibly a
little off putting for Loader fans, but fans of the Children would
have loved it.

‘The Eagle Has Landed’, a song about the moon landing, is a dense
affair, packed full of screeching guitars, heavy bass and a powerful
vocal performance from Loader. This track is a juggernaut that rams
its way through your consciousness and leaves your speakers exhausted.

Warning: Do not listen to Sonja Herholdt immediately after listening
to this; your brain will not be able to handle the gear change.

Where to find it:
Astral Daze – Various Artists, RetroFresh, (2005), FRESHCD148

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