1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Barriers”

White Flag – Dog Detachment

Barriers - Dog Detachment

Barriers – Dog Detachment

The white flag is usually regarded as a sign of surrender and it is perhaps a little ironic that the song called ‘White Flag’ appeared on Dog Detachment’s final studio album ‘Barriers’. They had gone through the rough punk of ‘The Last Laugh’, the maturing, ‘Fathoms Of Fire’ and then they really pulled it all together in ‘Barriers’ probably their most commercial album. But sadly this was a barrier that they hit as there was to be no more from the band other than the essential Retro Fresh collection ‘Best Kept Secrets’.

‘White Flag’ combines the pop sensibilities they displayed on ‘Fathoms Of Fire’ but still shows their punk roots. Mike Adams had left the band and it was essentially the Armstrong brothers (Brian, Terry & Alan) who continued flying the (white) flag. They drafted in Sharon and Anne Armstrong (presumably their sisters) for backing vocals. It was just a pity that they were Armstrongs and the person leaving the band was Adams. If it had been the other way round they could have called themselves The Adams Family.

‘White Flag’ is a melancholic rock track with slightly ethereal vocals bringing a sort of darkness to the poppy guitar sound. Sharon and Anne’s vocal are reminiscent of some of the 80’s UK Indie bands like The Marine Girls, Talulah Gosh, early Bananarama and early Everything But The Girl. While the lyrics could be viewed as being about lost love and regrets, it could equally be about the demise of the band and their relationship with record labels. Lines like ‘Where did we go wrong, where did it all fall to pieces’ and ‘Your promises made, I know they’ll all empty’ would apply to both scenarios.

Either way, this track was one by a band maturing and showing great potential to go on to great things, but fame continued to elude the Dogs and they went their separate ways.

Where to find it:
Best Kept Secrets – Dog Detachment (2001) Retrofresh, freshcd115


Heartwheels And Mindmills – Dog Detchment

JDog Detchment

Dog Detachment

There was a 4 year hiatus between the brilliant ‘Fathoms Of Fire’ (Dog Detachment’s 2nd album) and ‘Barriers’, their equally brilliant 3rd and final studio album. In that time, they continued to refine their sound and move away from the raw punk of ‘The Last Laugh’ (their first album) towards a more refined rock.

‘Heartwheels And Mindmills’, despite its rather stange title, moves along at a good pace with a staccato guitar forming the spokes on the song, going round and round in your mind while Brian Armstrong’s vocals, at first soft and almost whispered, suddenly catch the wind and soar like the sails of a windmill on the chorus. There is something quite beautiful in this sound.

And yet not is all well, as the lyric ‘How can I hope when my heart is torn in two’ tells us. There is angst and pain in the vocals that try and make sense of loving another when still loving the one you’re with. This is not a new problem for mankind, in fact there is a similar theme running through Ballyhoo’s ‘Man On the Moon’ and Dog Detachment picked up on the way we argue in circles when trying to resolve the situation. Like Ballyhoo who sang ‘My heart turns my mind into circles’, Dog Detachment sing of hearts and minds and circular things like wheels and mills. Though not as commercially successful as Ballyhoo’s take on this quandary, ‘Heartmills And Mindmills’ is no less a song. It’s just as tuneful and has a great vocal. It should have received the same attention.

Where to find it:
Best Kept Secrets – Dog Detachment (2001) Retrofresh, freshcd115


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