1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Ballyhoo”

Man On The Moon – Ballyhoo

Man On The Moon – Ballyhoo

Man On The Moon – Ballyhoo

‘Man On The Moon’ was the second local song to top the Springbok Top 20 in the 80’s (after Joy’s ‘Paradise Road’). The single week that it spent at 1 seems to belie the impact the song had, and still has on the local music scene as it would easily make any list of the best South African songs of all time. It is a high quality song which has become a classic.
For a song about the moon, it is slightly ironic that it is a very atmospheric track. The insistent beat, the understated synthesizers, the cosmic ‘shooting star’ sounds and echo-ey harmonised vocals are all wrapped up in a velvet-ness of a dark silky sound. Even when they let the electric guitar loose, it has an extra-terrestrial feel to it that leaves you floating in space. And throughout the song is the ache and pain of a man torn between two loves and imploring the man on the moon to help him choose. Of course ‘the man on the moon’ is renown for being non-existent and this adds to despair of the singer in that he knows his condition is so helpless that he has to appeal to the non-existent for help.
In 2007 a cover of the track by Springbok Nude Girls’ Arno Carstens appeared on a CD called ‘The Covers’ and his version is faithful to the original, albeit somewhat heavier in sound, it maintains the out of this worldliness of the original. It updates the song for a new millennium but does not eclipse the original. It is fitting that the Ballyhoo version would appear on their ‘greatest hits’ CD called ‘Defining Moments’ as when it was released, it was a defining moment in South African music history. It raised the bar for all the acts that followed in the 80’s. ‘Man On The Moon’ is as timeless as the moon itself.

Where to find it:
Defining Moments – Ballyhoo (2006), Select Musiek, BHPCD2010


Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow – Dealians

Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow - Dealians

Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow – Dealians

The Dealians were a band with an eye on the future. Well that is if the title of their first Springbok Top 20 hit was anything to go by. ‘Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow’ would go all the way to the top of the Top 20, spending 3 weeks at number 1 which was an illustrious start to their hit career.

It’s not too surprising that the song had the success it did as it is an upbeat affair with warm brassy bits and some swirling organ underpinning the strong and breezy vocal. The beat is quick and it feels almost like a race to get to the end of this perfect pop ditty.

Despite all the positiveness in the music, the lyrics tell a slightly different story. The theme of the songs is the dilemma of trying to chose between 2 woman, something that was revisited by Ballyhoo’s ‘Man On The Moon’ and Dog Detachment’s ‘Heartwheels And Mindmills’ which featured recently on this list.

‘Look out here comes tomorrow/That’s when I’ll I’ll have to choose/Oh how I wish I could borrow/someone else’s shoes’ are the first lines of the song and it goes on to to mention the poor 2 girls by name with either ‘Mary oh what a sweet girl’ or ‘Sandra long hair and pig tails’ about to get the boot.

The song was a cover of a Monkees track that was written by Neil Diamond, but its not one of The Monkees’ best, their version sounds a bit flat and sluggish, almost as if the band were just going through the motions when they recorded it. The Dealians, however blow fresh air into the song to make it one of the great local pop tunes from yesteryear.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 2 (1994) GMP, CDGMPD 40486 (CD)


Superstar – Stewart Irving

Stewart Irving

Stewart Irving

‘Everybody’s trying to be a superstar/But nobody knows what for’. So sings the one time singer with Ballyhoo. The ironic thing is that he does it in what we would nowadays refer to as an Idols/X Factor voice. Not only does he do the voice, but it is one of those songs competitors in the aforementioned competitions would have no problems singing (or attempting to sing as the case may be.)

The thing with Irving is that he does it so well with this song. He does have a great voice (although he wasn’t the voice behind ‘Man Of The Moon’ – he joined Ballyhoo just after they recorded that) and the song is a solid (bordering on power) ballad. Irving puts a lot of emotion into the performance and it paid dividends as the song made it to number 6 on the Radio 5 charts in 1985 and it was included on Ballyhoo’s 1989 album ‘Alive’.

Despite the pleading note in Irving’s voice, the answer is quite simple. People want to be superstars for fame, money and (in the case of male rock artists) to pick up chicks, although they may not necessarily be in that order. Ballyhoo were Superstars in South Africa and in putting out this solo effort, Stewart Irving enjoyed his 15 minutes (or 6 weeks according to his Radio 5 chart run) of superstardom.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – Sharp Cuts Vol 1


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