1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Cafe Society”

Woodpeckers From Space – Cafe Society

Woodpeckers From Space - Cafe Society

Woodpeckers From Space – Cafe Society

Some songs are really irritaiting and some songs you know you should find irritating but for some reason you can’t help listening to it and (secretly) enjoying. ‘Woodpeckers From Space’ is one of the latter. There is something unexplainable about this track which your sensible side say, ‘dismiss this as a load of tosh’, but a deep dark side of the brain is saying, ‘come, get down and boogie to this’.

Café Society started off sensibly with a dance cover of Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody To Love’ which made it to 22 on the SA charts. They followed this up with a cover of Dan Harman’s ‘Relight My Fire’. And then, who knows what happened. They somehow got to hear ‘Woodpeckers From Space’ by a Dutch band called Video Kids. The Video Kids refused to have their song released in South Africa due to Apartheid, so Costa Anadoitis, the driving force behind Café Society, decided to release a cover version of the song.

With its helium induced vocals, 80’s white guy rapping and Woody Woodpecker laugh sound reproduced by synthesizer, it is a cross between a kiddie’s dance song (something akin to ‘The Birdie Song’) and bubblegum pop with a disco/hi-energy dance beat thrown in for good measure. It would have had people on the dancefloor of the clubs in 80s South Africa as most people when dancing at a club just care about the beat and nothing else. But somehow, this one leaked out of the clubs and onto the radio and pecked its way to the top of the Springbok charts, where it sat for 7 weeks. It’s one saving grace was that it prevented Modern Talking’s ‘You’re My Heart, You’re My Soul’ from making it to number 1 as the latter sat at number 2 for 4 of the 7 weeks. For that alone it deserves recognition.

Where to find it:
Vinyl: Relight My Fire  – Café Society (1985), Passion, RSL1012


Working Girls – Working Girls

Working Girls – Working Girls

Working Girls – Working Girls

Was the name of this group and the song inspired by Dolly Parton’s 1981 hit ‘9 to 5’ which was taken from a film of the same name and which was about women in the workplace? Or did the inspiration come from slightly further back when in 1980 Sheena Easton arrived on the scene with her ‘9 to 5 (Morning Train)’? Listening to this 1984 hit from the Working Girls, I would say that the latter was more the inspiration as the lead vocals by Julia Jade Aston are quite similar to Sheena’s (and Julia just needed to add an ‘E’ at the front of her surname to have the same one as Sheena Easton).

The song is a synth driven one that takes on the sound of the time and the intro sounds a little like that of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ (although it also reminded me of the song ‘Space Invaders’ by Player 1). The strong beat accompanies the strong vocal to produce a solid 80’s dance track that precursored the Hi-Energy craze of that decade.

The song made it to number 26 on what had become the Springbok Top 30, peaking 4 places lower than the Working Guys (also known as Face to Face who were the male equivalent looks wise and who also had an Aston in the band, he was Jarrod Aston) who reached 22 with ‘Here We Are’. Julia Jade Aston had already had some success with Café Society, singing lead vocals on their popular ‘Somebody To Love’ and she went on to release a few solo singles, but ‘Working Girls’ would be her biggest success chartwise.

Where to find it:
Vinyl: Streetenergy – Working Girls (1984), WEA, WIC 8019


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