1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Archive for the tag “Billy Forrest”

Hello-A – Billy Forrest & Sharon Tandy

Hello-A – Billy Forrest & Sharon Tandy

Hello-A – Billy Forrest & Sharon Tandy

‘Hello-A’ was written by a Dutch chap called Hans van Hemert. It was first released by the duo Mouth & MacNeal and would top the charts in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. In South Africa the song was covered by Billy Forrest and Sharon Tandy, two legends of the local music scene. The Mouth And MacNeal version sounds like they could have been backed by Freedom’s Children as there is a dense guitar sound and a heavy beat going on which makes the track lean more towards rock than to pop.

With Sharon Tandy on female vocals, the South African version starts off with a kind of soul sound with shades of Dusty Springfield showing through. Then Billy comes in and moves it into more country territory with his voice and one starts thinking Glen Campbell. Then they combine for the catchy chorus and the harmonies move the song into pop territory. Rock gets a little look in with an occasional electric guitar giving a yelp. This gives rise to the equation ‘35% Soul + 35% Country + 20% Pop + 10% Rock = Hit’ as the song went to number 5 on the Springbok charts.

Undoubtedly there is a 70’s pop feel to the track, but it also has a fresh feel and upbeat rhythm to it. And putting the song into the hands of Billy Forrest, who was the master of bringing international songs to a South African audiences, could only spell success.

Hans van Hemert was a popular song writer for local acts to cover as we saw Springbok Top 20 hits for The Rising Sons (‘How Do You Do’) and Harvest (‘Welcome Home’) as well as ‘Hello-A’ which were written by him. ‘Hello-A’ was greeted with enthusiasm in South Africa, both by Billy and Sharon when they recorded it and by the record buying public when they heard it.

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

Video:

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:

Hazy Hazy (Crazy Crazy) – Billy & Geli

Hazy Hazy (Crazy Crazy) – Billy & Geli

Hazy Hazy (Crazy Crazy) – Billy & Geli

Billy Forrest has made a very good living covering some of the more obscure international song and turning them into hits in South Africa. In 1974 he teamed up again with Angelika Illman aka Geli (they had had a hit the year before with ‘Do You Love Me’, a cover of Sharif Dean’s song), and recorded ‘Hazy Hazy (Crazy Crazy)’ a song written by Chris Andrews. Andrews had seen a number of Springbok top 20 number 1’s in the late 60’s/early 70’s with songs such as ‘Yesterday Man’, ‘Pretty Belinda’ and ‘Carol ‘OK’.
It seems that the song was first recorded by a group called Bubbles which may have been British or possibly German or Dutch (very little info available on this). Their version also features a male and female vocal, both of which are rather breathy on the verses but do get a little less so on the choruses. Billy and Geli produce a straight forward pop vocal on this catchy tune that has the boy and the girl in the song falling hazily and crazily in love and looking for the other’s number.
‘Hazy Hazy (Crazy Crazy)’ did not do as well as the duo’s previous hit. ‘Do You Love Me’ peaked at 2 on the Springbok Top 20 while ‘Hazy Hazy (Crazy Crazy)’ only got to 18. Perhaps by 1974 we were moving away from the catchy bubblegummy pop songs of the early 70s that Chris Andrews was so good at writing and maybe if Billy had picked up the song when it first came out (1972), he may have had a bigger hit on his hands.
However, listening to it with hindsight, we can just enjoy it as a reminder of a past time that is full of hazy and crazy memories for many.

Where to find it:
The Heart And Soul Of – Billy Forrest Gallo CDREDD 654, 2001

Video:

Woman Yeah – The Gonks

Woman Yeah – The Gonks

Woman Yeah – The Gonks

The Gonks hailed from Durban and were the backing band for Billy Forrest (who was going under the name Quentin E Klopjaeger at the time) on his single ‘Lazy Life’. The mainstay of the band in its early line up was a guy called Howard Schachat who was the guitarist for the band. He had been in a band called Invisible Church before that.

The Gonks only made a few singles and then disappaeared, but one of those singles was ‘Nobody But Me’ which featured as its b-side ‘Woman Yeah’, a fuzzy garage-ey piece of rock pop from 1967. It has an insistent guitar riff that drills itself into your head going round and round while the vocals come across as a little bit soul, a little bit punk and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, giving it an interesting effect.

The track was written by band members Noel McDermott and Craig Ross, the latter eventually moving on to be part of Freedom’s Children. Grahame Beggs (who was one of the main members of Charisma who had a massive hit with ‘Mammy Blue’) produced the tracks.

There is not a lot of Gonks material available and what is out there is hard to find but the chaps behind the excellent ‘Astral Daze’ series decided that reviving an old Gonks b-side for the second compilation was a good idea and I for one agree. This is great stuff from what would be a lost era of SA music if we didn’t have the archive trawlers that we are fortunate enough to have. I found a copy of ‘Nobody But Me’, the a-side of the single on Youtube and its not bad, but I think the Astral Daze dudes chose right with going for the b-side.

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

Video:

Fire – Third Eye

Fire – Third Eye

Fire – Third Eye

The late 60s and early 70s in South Africa saw the emergence of heavy rock acts like Freedom’s Children, Hawk and the Otis Waygood Blues Band. To this list one can also add Durban based band Third Eye (sometime spelt Thyrd Eye) who crashed onto the scene in 1968 or 1969 (depending on which source you use) with a blistering and wailing thunderball of a cover of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown’s ‘Fire’.

From the first cry of ‘I am the son of hellfire’ (I guess they had to change the ‘god of hellfire’ to the ‘son of hellfire’ to avoid a ban from the ultra conservative at that time SABC), the song is racing against the flames that the song is about with Dawn Selby’s Hammond organ swirling like a whirling dervish dancer on fast forward. Maurice Saul’s vocals cry out from this vortex at first with ominous rock sensibilities but as the song gets more frenetic it slowly morphs into a screeching banshee as he starts to wail as one burning up.

The song, produced by Billy Forrest, would get to 16 on the LM Radio charts and it certainly holds it own when placed next to the Arthur Brown original. It has that same intensity of heat and burns just as bright. We certainly knew how to rock back then, whether producing original material or covering some of the classics of the day and Third Eye were spot on with this cover. Maybe its because we South Africans are so good at braai-ing that The Third Eye could so easily (so it seems) knock off a great cover of ‘Fire’. As Neil Young says, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.

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

Video:

Welcome Home – Harvest

Welcome Home – Harvest

Welcome Home – Harvest

Let’s get this straight from the start, ‘Welcome Home’ by Harvest is not a cover of the Peters & Lee song that got to number 1 in the UK. It is rather a cover of the Dutch duo Big Mouth & Little Eve song which did not make the Dutch charts. Big Mouth was the Mouth half of Mouth & MacNeal, a successful Dutch duo that brought us hits like ‘How Do You Do’ and ‘Hello-A’, both of which were covered by locals. The former was covered by The Rising Sons and the latter by a duet consisting of Billy Forrest and Sharon Tandy.

And Forrest and Tandy were both involved in the cover of ‘Welcome Home’ with Forrest producing the song and Tandy being a member of Harvest alongside Hawk’s Dave Ornellas. Their cover was released in 1978, a year after Big Mouth & Little Eve’s version. Harvest would get to 10 and spend 11 weeks on the Springbok Charts with their version.

‘Welcome Home’ is a pleasant 70s pop song with a catchy chorus and Harvest give it a slightly harder sound than the original with guitars, harmonica and Ornellas’ whiskey and honey vocals giving it a more bluesy feel than Big Mouth & Little Eve’s version. The picture sleeve of the cover shows a troopie knocking on the front door of what is presumably his home. This image would have helped to sell the single as many families were having to live with young men conscripted into the army and only returning home occasionally.

With big names like Forrest, Tandy and Ornellas being involved, coupled with a catchy song and a sentimental sleeve cover, it was no wonder this was a hit record in South Africa.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 3 (1994) GSP, CDREDD 610

Video:

The Wonder Of Your Love – Jody Wayne

The Wonder Of Your Love – Jody Wayne

The Wonder Of Your Love – Jody Wayne

Jody Wayne topped the Sprinbok Top 20 with ‘The Wedding’ in 1970. After that his fortunes took a turn for the worse in terms of chart success as his next 3 hits, ‘A Time For Us’, ‘Everything Is Beautiful’ and ‘Louanne’ peaked at 12, 20 and 19 respectively. However, with ‘The Wonder Of You’ he once more climbed into the top 5 on our charts as the song peaked at number 4. It was his 8th song to make the charts and at that point he was tied second with Four Jacks & A Jill for number of hits on the chart by a local act, only being beaten by Billy Forrest’s 9.

Listening to ‘The Wonder Of You’ one can see why he regained the lost ground. It is a fine example of a 70’s country-pop ballad. It’s emotional, has a strong country guitar, a laid back rhythm and Jody’s sweet vocals which are interchanged with emotionally charged spoken bits. The slow beat of the song was perfect for any slow dance in its day and I’m sure many a couple have fond memories of this hit.

Yes, like a number of songs on this list, ‘The Wonder Of Love’ was of its time and does sound a little dated now, but it was a big hit in its time. It would be Wayne’s last top 5 hit, although ‘A Picture Of Patches’ and his duet with Four Jacks & A Jill’s Glenys Lynne, ‘Cookie’, would manage to get to 6 and 7 respectively. Jody was one of the top local acts of the 70’s scoring 7 hits during that decade. So, listen to one of his bigger hits of that time and enjoy the wonder of Jody.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 3 (1994) GSP, CDREDD 610

Video:

I Loved ‘Em Everyone – Billy Forrest

I Loved ‘Em Everyone - Billy Forrest

I Loved ‘Em Everyone – Billy Forrest

There is a very definite connection between the song ‘I Loved ‘Em Everyone’, singing under a pseudomyn, your original first name being William and your surname starting with a ‘B’. In 1981 William Neal Browder (better known as T.G. Sheppard) recorded the song which was penned by Phil Sampson and it became his 7th number 1 on the Country Singles Charts in the US. In 1983 William Broad (aka Billy Forrest) took his version to number 17 in South Africa.

The song covers the same ground as the Willie Nelson/Julio Iglesias song ‘To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before’ as it is a tribute to all the women the singers have loved and how they “Loved Them Everyone” and how he would loved to have “kept ‘em all”. It paints a picture of a wanderer who strikes up relationships and then moves on. There is a mixed emotion in the song as it seems that the singer enjoyed having met all these woman, but at the same time there is an undercurrent of regret at not being able to settle down with one.

Its not a full on country song with twangy guitars and voices, but would probably better be described as country rock as there are some heavier touches on the guitar which give it a harder edge, but it still has that sort of wide open prairie sound to keep it country.

There is not a huge amount to choose from between Billy and T.G.’s versions. They are pretty similar, but as South Africans, we got to know the song through Billy Forrest. He was a prolific singer, coming up with songs under a variety of names, but we ‘Loved ‘Em Every One.’

Where to find it:
The Heart And Soul Of – Billy Forrest (2001), Gallo, CDREDD 654

Video:
Billy Forrest:

T.G. Sheppard:

Lazy Life – Quentin E Klopjaeger

Lazy Life – Quentin E Klopjaeger

Lazy Life - Quentin E Klopjaeger

Lazy Life – Quentin E Klopjaeger

This song is made from warm Saturday afternoons, the smell of newly cut grass, the sound of bees buzzing, blues skies, the aroma of boerewors braaing on the fire and kids running free in a large park. The rhythm section is a pulsing blue sky and the vocals are a cool breeze blowing through the scene.

Written by Gordon Haskell and with The Gonks playing the instruments, Quentin E Klopjaeger (aka Billy Forrest) put together a song of pure pop magic. At just over 2 minutes long, the song is bright and breezy and captures all the joy of a lazy life, you know, those days where you just get away from everything. A modern day title for the song would be called ‘Spending Quality Time With Your Family’, but that doesn’t scan as well.

The song topped the SA charts in June 1968 and spent 2 weeks there. The timing of this is quite odd as it would have been the middle of winter. Perhaps the country was just longing for those warmer lazy days to come again, but it just goes to show that, although ‘Lazy Life’ may seem to be a summer song, it is in fact one for all seasons.

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

Video:

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: