1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Archive for the tag “celebrities”

Beautiful – Karen Zoid

Beautiful – Karen Zoid

Karen Zoid - Chasing The Sun

Karen Zoid – Chasing The Sun

South Africa’s first Afrikaans rock chick takes it a little calmer on this track from her second album ‘Chasing The Sun.’ She had fallen in love with Don Reinecke, the guitarist in her band and she penned this beautiful ballad to him. ‘Beautiful’ was not only a love song, but it also made us aware of the abilities of Zoid in that she could do more than just churn out rock classics. She had a softer side.

The song had an effect as Karen and Don married in 2004, the year after it was released. Sadly the marriage only lasted till 2010, but the music lives on. I am sure that many a couple have adopted this as ‘their song’ and perhaps it has been played at a number of weddings. With it Zoid showed that she was a talented songwriter and not a one album wonder.

Where to find it:
Chasing The Sun – Karen Zoid, Just Music, (2003), CDJUST171


You’re beautiful every time we touch
When you make me laugh, when you think too much
You’re beautiful without your clothes
Everybody knows your love for me, it shows

And it shines through, shines through
Everything we do
I need you, I need you
I want to swim across this crowded room
And whisper in your ear.

You’re beautiful, when you’re being polite
She just fell off her chair and you gave her a light
You’re beautiful in your ugly shoes
You know that I still hate them, but I can stand by you

Because you shine through, shine through
Everything I do
I need you, I need you

I want to shout it from a rooftop
Shout it out to the moon…

I write another bagatelle
’cause lately I’m beside myself
Take me to the stars, show me the room
in the corner of your heart
Take me on a trip
buy me a ticket for the plane
I want to see, I have to say…

You’re beautiful, you know it’s true
I could go black, I could go blue
You’re beautiful, there are no lies
Only the river, only the sky

I guess I do it to myself, I sometimes think that
I need help
You know one and one is two
It’s a different kind of you

My baby, I love you.
Baby, I love you.

(Written by Karen Zoid)

The Tips Of My Fingers – Peter Vee

The Tips Of My Fingers – Peter Vee

Peter Vee - The Tips Of My Fingers

Peter Vee – The Tips Of My Fingers

Peter Vee has been involved in the South African music business for a long time. He began his career by joining The Invaders in 1962. He has worked with The Four Dukes, Sons of She, The In Crowd, The Staccatos, The Outlet and Buffalo. He has worked as a musician and producer. In between all this he found time for a solo career which produced 4 SA Top 20 hits, including ‘The Tips Of My Fingers’ which entered the charts on 11 January 1974, spent 11 weeks in the top 20, peaking at number 8. This was to be the highest position he gained as a solo artist (‘Working On A Good Thing’ by The Outlet which he co-wrote with Clive Calder made number 2).

The song is about not grabbing love when the opportunity arises. “I had your love on the tips of my fingers, but I let you slip right through my hands,” Vee laments in an early Cliff Richard voice. The song flows back and forth between tender refrains and crescendos of the chorus, all well-oiled by some slick production.

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


Hometalk – Mango Groove

Hometalk – Mango Groove

Mango Groove - Hometalk

Mango Groove – Hometalk

After the success of their eponymous debut album, the difficult second album loomed for Claire Johnson and her band. South African music history is littered with bands who made a great debut album, but then we never heard from them again. But this was not to be the case with Mango Groove. They produced another album of catchy dance tunes that had everyone dancing and tapping their feet to. The title track quickly told us that the Groovers were not a one album wonder and, with its sassy brassy sound, literally bounced up to the top of the Radio 702 charts.

Taking inspiration from the big bands of the 50’s, they are an unusually large group (11 people are pictured on the album cover), but they updated the 50s into the 80s and 90s with this ‘big’ sound. Claire Johnson’s vocals glide sexily over a large collection of instruments, including at different times saxophone, trumpet, xylophone, penny whistle, piano and there is even a tingling triangle. It is a smorgasbord of sounds thrown together into one giant party pot.

Where to find it:
Hometalk – Mango Groove (1990) Tusk, TUCD 14, TUCD (F) 14
Mango Groove – The Essential Mango Groove (2008), Gallo, CDREDD 694 (AN)


Die Mamba – Piet Botha

Die Mamba – Piet Botha

Piet Botha - Die Mamba

Piet Botha – Die Mamba

There is something menacing about the title song of Piet Botha’s 2003 solo album. Well, you call a song ‘Die Mamba’ and of course there will be something menacing about it. Mamba’s are not cute. But it goes deeper than the name. The music itself is threatening and edgy, full of guitars and drums that assault you with a wall of sound. It is somewhat reminiscent of the denseness of Freedom’s Children.

The lyrics talk of a musician roaming the country with an almost lecherous eye on the groupies (‘jong bokkies’) that he wants to bite. Not something a young woman should play to pa just before telling him you’re off to a Piet Botha gig. You may just find yourself grounded.

Despite the menace in the song, it is a great track to lose yourself in. Wail along to the guitars, growl along with the vocals, let your senses be pounded by the beat, and then crawl out the other end of the song with that elated feeling of having escaped from a frightening, but somehow exhilarating ordeal.



Where to find it:
Die Mamba – Piet Botha, (June 2003), Rhythm Records, RR042


Hulle roep my die mamba
Die hele kontinent behoort aan my
En ek beweeg
Maar ek hou nie baie van die woestyn
Want daar is nie jong bokkies
Bokkies om te byt..

Hulle roep my die mamba
En jy sal die vrees sien in hulle oge
Hulle roep my die mamba
By die hoor van my naam begin hulle bewe
En as jy by my pad loop staan
Dan kom die bliksem ek belowe
Jong bokkies…bokkies om te byt

Hulle roep my die mamba
En ek looi die kitaar
Op die lang pad gebore
En toe sommer net daar laat staan
Ek en my vriend adder loop by die nag
Al daai heerlike diertjies wat wag
Jong bokkies….bokkies om te byt
En dan sê hulle : “Hey hey hey
My mamba baby”

(By Piet Botha)

Video (Live versions):

Great Heart – Johnny Clegg

Great Heart – Johnny Clegg (The Spirit Of A Grey Tart)

Johnny Clegg & Savuka

Johnny Clegg & Savuka

People often try and describe what is fantastic about Africa and invariably these efforts resort to clichés about blue skies, open plains and bushveld. Few people have really managed to capture the spirit and greatness of the continent as Johnny Clegg did in ‘Great Heart’ and even less have done so to such a catchy tune. Full of imagery and loaded with high kicking, foot-stomping beats. This is one song about Africa that never fails to excite and delight.

The song was used in the movie version of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick’s book ‘Jock Of The Bushveld’ (most of the rest of the soundtrack being handled by Neill Solomon) and was also in the closing credits of Disney’s ‘Whispers: An Elephant’s Tale’. Jimmy Buffet did a cover version of it which had a Caribbean sound. While it’s great that international stars are covering a local artist, I’m afraid this version doesn’t work for me, it seems to lack hands on experience of the subject matter and tends to be a little bland in comparison to the original.

In more recent times, Johnny Clegg joined up with the elite of South Africa’s rock scene (Karen Zoid, Parlotones, Chris Chameleon to name a few) to re-record the song in aid of the Starfish charity. This version is well worth seeking out as it remains true to the spirit of ‘Great Heart’ but at the same time brings an updated slant to it.

Where to find it:
The Very Best Of Johnny Clegg & Savuka – Johnny Clegg & Savuka (2002), EMI, I-8575762
Johnny Clegg & Savuka:

Johnny Clegg & Friends:

Hog Hoggidy Hog

Jimmy Buffet


The world is full of strange behaviour
Every man has to be his own saviour
I know I can make it on my own if I try
But I’m searching for a Great Heart to stand me by
Underneath the African sky
A Great Heart to stand me by

I’m searching for the spirit of the Great Heart
To hold and keep me by
I’m searching for the spirit of the Great Heart
Under African sky
Sometimes I feel that you really know me
Sometimes there’s so much you can show me

There’s a highway of stars across the heavens
There’s whispering song of the wind in the grass
There’s the rolling thunder across the savannah
A hope and dream at the edge of the sky
And your life is a story like the wind
Your life is a story like the wind

I’m searching for the spirit of the Great Heart
To hold and stand me by
But I’m searching for a Great Heart to stand me by
Underneath the African sky
I’m searching for the spirit of the Great Heart
I see the fire in your eyes
I’m searching for the spirit of the Great Heart
That beats my name inside
Sometimes I feel that you really know me
Sometimes there’s so much you can show me

Guk a ‘mzimba (body grow old)
Sala ‘nhliziyo (but heart remain behind)

(Written by Johnny Clegg)

Ghana – Dorothy Masuka

Ghana – Dorothy Masuka

More Great Moments In Vinyl History

More Great Moments In Vinyl History

Andy Kershaw is a British DJ who specialises in ‘world’ music. In 1987 he put together a compilation album of interesting tracks he had found along his way. This compilation was called ‘Great Moments In Vinyl History’. It took him 17 years to come up with a follow up collection called ‘More Great Moments In Vinyl History’ and included in this collection is the track ‘Ghana’ by Dorothy Masuka. According to the sleeve notes, very little is known about this recording. A listener to Andy’s show found an old single which seemed like a test pressing at a Camden Market. Dorothy herself, when interviewed by Kershaw, had very little memory of recording the song.

However, this joyous celebration of the Wind of Change blowing through Africa, was fortunately unearthed and we can proudly rank it amongst the great South African songs (with a little poetic licence. Dorothy was from Zimbabwe, did most of her growing up in South Africa, but then spent a large part of the apartheid years wondering around Africa, and she thinks ‘Ghana’ may have been recorded in Zambia).

The song itself has a nice high life guitar and Dorothy’s strong vocals floating over a catchy tune. The lyrics are all about her wanting to go to the various African countries that had obtained independence and meet the leaders who had won that freedom. Dating the song is a little difficult as the sleeve notes of ‘More Great Moments…’ point out. The reference to all the Winds Of Change leaders would lead one to guess that the song would have been recorded in the early 60’s, but Dorothy expresses a wish to see Patrice Lumumba in Zaire. Lumumba died in 1961, but the Congo was not called Zaire until 1971. It may just be that people referred to the Congo as Zaire in a similar way that South Africa was sometimes referred to as Azania during the struggles.

Where to find it:
More Great Moments In Vinyl History– Various (2004), Wrasse Records – WRASS 122


Smiley Skull Of Faith – Springbok Nude Girls

Smiley Skull Of Faith – Springbok Nude Girls (Stripped down head music)

Relaxzor – Springbok Nude Girls

Relaxzor – Springbok Nude Girls

The year was 2000 and there were rumours in the air that the Nude Girls were going to call it a day. Then came ‘Smiley Skull of Faith’, a hard hitting song showing the Nude Girls at their confident best. At the time, it was hard to believe that this would be the last we would hear from them.

As history shows, they went on to call it a day a few more times, so we needn’t have worried. But had ‘Smiley Skull of Faith’ been their last offering, we could have sat around reminiscing and saying, ‘what a way to go’. Starting with a eerie keyboard and edgy guitar, the song thunders from the atmospheric to a barrage of drums at around the 1 minute mark. It then settles into tuneful rock with Arno Carstens trademark desperate howl which is tempered by his pensive low growl.

The band did not sound like one about to break up. They were tight and producing some of their best material and few of their songs were better at that time than ‘Smiley Skull of Faith’. The song made it to number 23 on the South African Rock Digests’ top 50 songs of 2000.

Where to find it:
Relaxzor – Springbok Nude Girls (2001), Epic, CDEPC8148


Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: