1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Archive for the tag “Chris Chameleon”

Lucky – Boo!

Shooting Star - Boo!

Shooting Star – Boo!

Those Boo! Boys (yes, despite the dress sense of their lead singer and names like Princess Leonie they were boys) were pretty lax in the spelling department as this song has appeared as ‘Lucky’ and ‘Lucki’ on various of their releases. However, this is not the list of ‘1001 songs you have to see mis-spelt before you go blind’ so we can give them the benefit of the doubt and put this down to typos and then get on with listening to the song.

A popular live tune at their gigs, this songs fairly bounces along on a funky bass line with Ampie Omo’s trumpet blasting hot air into the song that give it a slightly Latin-American sheen, while at the same time maintaining the ska-punk feel that pervaded Boo!’s music. Chameleon’s vocals are, as always on his Boo! material, gloriously quirky with a few primeval yelps thown in for good measure.

Boo! were one of the best fun bands around on the local scene in the late 90’s early 00’s and a tune like ‘Lucky’ is a prime example of how the music and their comedic repertoire blended together in what at times seemed to be a shambolicly lucky way, however, don’t be fooled, the band were not lucky, they got to where they did by having a serious amount of talent going on which carefully orchestrated the chaos. This song was just another example of how good they were at that. You say lucky, I say lucki, you say quirky I say quirki let’s call the whole thing pretty darn excellent.

Where to find it:
Shooting Star – Boo! (2002),Sheer Sound

Video:

Advertisements

Apie – Chris Chameleon

Screenshot from the video for Apie

Screenshot from the video for Apie

A chameleon goes ape. Well, it’s not quite as bad as all that, but if you weren’t familiar with Chris Chamelon and his amazing voice, you would be forgiven for thinking that this was a chameleon on helium as he employes the upper part of his range for this fun filled frolic that is as cheeky and cute as a monkey. However, those in the know will know that Chris Chamelon has such an amazing vocal range that he was able to execute this song without the aid of studio wizardry or extra tight trousers (and that includes the cartoon like aping of the ape of which he sings).
Aside from the vocal talents on display in this song, we can also hear the influence of Europe (Belgium and Holland in particular) where he has had some success, initially as a member of Boo! but also as a solo artist. This shows through in the street-busker accordion that pervades the song.
After the break up of Boo!, Chameleon seemed to be heading in a more serious musical direction as his solo material had less of the light-hearted feel of that he created in the group, but there were still the occasional smile-inducing tracks around and none more so than ‘Apie’. Others in a similar vein include ‘Soen’, ‘Kersfees In Afrika’ and ‘Klein Klein Jakkalsies’, and when one contrasts these to some of the more serious material (which in itself is very good and I’m by no means dismissing it here), you realise just how versatile this Chameleon is and no matter what your mood, you can find a song of his to suit it. ‘Apie’ is for your more playful moments.
Where to find it:
Kyk Hou Lyk Ons Nou – Chris Chameleon (2009, Rhythm Records

Video:

Blue – Chris Chameleon

Shine - Chris Chameleon

Shine – Chris Chameleon

It took just 2 years for Chris Chameleon to go from Boo! to Blue. After he broke up with bandmates Ampie Omo and Princess Leonie in 2004, Chameleon released a solo album in 2005 called ‘Ek Herhaal Jou’. The following year he released ‘Shine’ and ‘Blue’ was the opening track to the album. It is quite a dramatic start to the album. Starting with a riff similar to Blur’s ‘Girls And Boys’ and followed immediately by a synth riff that reminds one of Visage’s ‘Fade To Grey’, the song is a thick stew of synths and beats.

Chris himself is in fine voice, coming over just as strong as the music, albeit an octave or so higher. He throws in a little of his vocal gymnastics with ‘oo-oo-oo-oo’s and ‘ee-ee-ee-ee’s and such likes at the end of each line. It’s not quite an Olympic perfect 10 score with a high difficulty vocal (which he is quite capable of), but rather a sort of stretching exercise before the routine, but this is what the song requires.

‘Blue’ is wall-to-wall bounce and beats. It has as much energy as a three year old stuffed full of sweets and chocates and let loose on a bouncy castle. And the reason for it being so cheerful? Well that’s because he is in love and ‘Blue-oooooo is no longer my favourite colour’, or to use the title of a Bombay Bicycle Club album title, ‘I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose.’ This was Chris striking out on his own, making a thundering statement and doing so as only the most versatile voice in the country could. This was nothing like the punky sounds of Boo! or the REM does Boeremusiek, guitar heavy music of ‘Ek Herhaal Jou’. This was a new colour for Chris and not surprising given his surname.

Where to find it:
Shine – Chris Chameleon (2006), Rhythm Records, RR070

Video:

Soen – Chris Chameleon

Ek Vir Jou - Chris Chameleon

Ek Vir Jou – Chris Chameleon

Soen. The Afrikaans word for kiss. Prince did a song called Kiss and, well, this is not the same song, however, one could draw some parallels here. For starters, Prince’s ditty was sung in a strange falsetto voice and Chameleon’s voice on this one (for as well know he has a remarkable vocal range) is in one of his higher registers and, where Prince sounded a bit weird, Chris doesn’t.

The next thing one notices is the stripped down arrangements of the two songs. Prince was a master of creating complex songs with simple arrangements and while not quite in the same league, Chris has created a rather joyous, finger-poppin’, foot-tapping piece of pop with a simple strummed guitar, some nifty drumming (with a few bongos thrown in for good measure) and the best use of handclaps in a South African song ever (possibly).

Prince was also known for his sexy content and ‘Kiss’ is a very sexy song and tends to be a bit more adult than Chris’ ‘Soen’ which is more about a first love and those awkward first encounters with the opposite sex. Compare Prince’s “I Just need your body baby from dusk to dawn” with Chris’ “En ek stotter as ek met jou praat en my stem breek”.

Chris’ version may not ever be covered by Tom Jones and The Art of Noise, but is one of the most life affirming Afrikaans songs since David Kramer’s ‘Mesise Sonder Sokkies’. Maybe one day we’ll see Piet Botha team up with Bengula for a cover version.

Where to find it:
Ek Vir Jou – Chris Chameleon (2007), Rhythm Records

Video:

Wishboan – Boo!

Seventies Eighties Nineties Naughties - Boo!

Seventies Eighties Nineties Naughties – Boo!

A bass guitar saunters out of your speakers as an anxious xylophone flaps around it. Then Chris Chameleon’s shifty-eyed vocals come sliding across this. A monkey (punk) impersonating a harmonica adds a ‘woe is me’ background and then the song swells with warm trumpets as Chris pleads “Oh my wishboan/oh my shooting star/walk with me”.

This is a less hectic Boo! track that threatens to bubble over, but only loses control of itself mometarily at two points in the song when Princess Leonie goes a little ape on his drums and Chris Chameleon’s attacks his bass with a little more vigour, but just as they try and lead the song down a heavier path, the Nordic Viking looking Ampie Omo calms them down with a soothing trumpet.

Boo! were better know for more punkish and faster songs, but occasionally they would calm things down and produce deliciously laid back songs like ‘Wishboan’.  Somewhat melancholic it has warm brassy moments and the occasional moments of letting off steam but overall it is a song that draws you in and makes you feel safe.

Where to find it:
Seventies, Eighties, Nineties, Naughties –Boo! (2000) Monki Punk Productions, BOOCD03

Video:

Saved – Chris Chameleon

Saved – Chris Chameleon

Shine - Chris Chameleon

Shine – Chris Chameleon

After Boo! finally called it a day, it was not too surprising to see Chris Chameleon changing colours from a lead singer into a solo artist. With a voice like his, it would be a crime for him not to be singing. His first solo album ‘Ek Herhaal Jou’ was an Afrikaans offering, but with his second, ‘Shine’, we saw the ever changing Chameleon switch into English.

In the addendum to the book ‘1 001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die’, they give the 10 001 songs (that’s 9 000 extra songs in case you misread the “0”s) you must hear for those, like me, who just can’t get enough of lists. In amongst the extra songs is ‘Saved’ by Chris Chameleon, so it’s not just me that says you should hear this.

And why should you? It’s nothing like the quirky Boo! you came to love. Nor is it the more serious and quieter affairs that one found on ‘Ek Herhaal Jou’. And it doen’t feature some of the vocal gymnastics that he can get up to. It is a straight forward pop rock song with a slightly heavy beat, a foreboding voice on the verse which soars on the chorus and production tighter than some of the trousers that Chris wears. Perhaps not the most interesting track that he has produced in his various guises, but it is a song bursting with pop sensibilities, great hooks and as always, a sublime vocal performance. It is yet another side to this everchanging national treasure.

Where to find it:
Shine – Chris Chameleon (2006), Rhythm Records, RR070

Video:

Staan My By My Bra – Radio Kalahari Orkes

Staan My By My Bra – Radio Kalahari Orkes (Boo!tiful)

Heuningland by Die Radio Kalahari Orkes

Heuningland by Die Radio Kalahari Orkes

There’s a bit of the Travelling Wilburys about Radio Kalahari Orkes (“RKO”). Not so much in the sound, but it’s a bunch of ‘old enough to have fathered a boy band’ age guys getting together to make music. The big difference is that, unlike the Wilburys, RKO members include an actor and a journalist.

Now before you go off bemoaning the fact that these types should not be meddling in the music business, I might just point out to you The Aeroplanes who roped in actors Sean Taylor, David Butler and Nicky Rebelo for their masterpiece album ‘The Aeroplanes’, and Johannes Kerkorrel was a journalist before revolutionising Afrikaans music. So Ian Roberts (he of the ‘Ja, Swaar’ TV ad and starred in the movie Tsotsi, to name a few roles) and Rian Malan (author of ‘My Traitor’s Heart’) should not be written off as indulging their musical whims. They may not revolutionise the music scene, but the anthemic ‘Staan My By’ is worthy of inclusion in this list.

The song starts off with a bit of the boere squash box going, but quickly introduces a strong beat and guitar driven pulse that is bold and full. But perhaps it is inviting Chris Chameleon to guest on vocals that was the stroke of genius that makes the song. His higher pitch plays nicely against the growling of Roberts and Malan and soars on the rousing chorus which may have sounded a bit flat without this. It’s not that Chameleon steals the show here, but the synergies between him and the band make for a great song.

Where to find it:
Heuningland – Radio Kalahari Orkes (2009), Rhythm Records, RR1100

Video:

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: