1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Clive Calder”

Candlelight – Richard Jon Smith

Candlelight – Richard Jon Smith

Candlelight – Richard Jon Smith

When one sees the title ‘Candlelight’ one would expect a mellow schmoozy song about romantic scenes taking place in the soft light a candle creates, perhaps an intimate dinner or a relaxing bath. Well Richard Jon Smith seemed to have other ideas when he recorded this song which appears to have originally been the b-side of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’, a single by a band called Fingernail.

Not too dissimilar to the original, Richard Jon Smith’s version immediately dispels any romantic images associated with candlelight and kicks off with a glam rock stomping beat and a joyful guitar. It’s not too long before Smith bursts into the song, taking over from the guitar with a howling cry of ‘Candlelight/shines so bright/every one is happy because you’re by my side’. And this growly vocal continues throughout the song as it wends its merry way along with platform boots abounding while shades of Slade and glimmers of Glitter flicker around this Clive Calder produced track.

The South African public took to this bright candlelight giving Smith his first of 9 Springbok chart hits. It spent 9 weeks on the chart in 1973 and peaked at 11, a deserved success as it was a polished 70’s rock hit which brought one of the most successful local artists of the 70’s to the fore. ‘Candlelight’ is a track to have ready to play next time there is loadshedding, it may help brighten your life. Alternatively you could put on the Springbok Nude Girls’ ‘Dimmer’ if you’re a glass half empty kind of person.

Where to find it:
Yesterday’s Best Vol 1, 1995, Teal, MORCD502

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Working On A Good Thing – The Outlet

Working On A Good Thing – The Outlet

Working On A Good Thing – The Outlet

The Outlet were a band featuring Clive Clader (who went on to produce loads of stuff), Neil Herbert (who had a number 1 hit with ‘She’s A Woman), Robert Schroder (who wrote and produced loads of other hits), Greg Brown and Howie Jones (who were both in The Attraction) and Peter Vee (who had solo hits and hits as part of Buffalo). With this line-up, it was no surprise that they had a couple of Springbok Top 20 hits.

The second of these hits was ‘Working On A Good Thing’ and was the more successful of the 2 hits, going to number 2 and spending 14 weeks on the charts. Calder and Vee wrote the song which has the same cheeky rhythm as The Beatles’ ‘Ob La Di Ob La Da’. It is self abandoned pop that has no shame in being so. The gentle lilt of the music dances playfully with the almost understated vocals and that all sits nicely in a catchy groove.

As with songs of that era (1970), it is a short piece, clocking in at just over 2 minutes 15 seconds so is almost over just as you’re getting into it. One wonders if, when The Outlet recorded it, they knew that they were working on a good thing. The whoops and yelps in the background of the song seem to indicate that a bit of a party was going on in the studio, so I suspect they knew.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 2 (1994) GMP, CDGMPD 40486 (CD)

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Please Stay – Jonathan Butler

Jonathan Butler with Little Ronnie Joyce

Jonathan Butler with Little Ronnie Joyce

Butler was a mere 13 years old (nearly 14) when his song ‘Please Stay’ entered the Springbok Top 20 and as you listen to it, you can hear that he is a youngster, but at the same time, there is a real maturity in his voice. He knew how to inject the right emotions into the song. Backed by a band that sounds a bit like it could have been the Invaders (and maybe was, I haven’t been able to find out who the muscians were) and having Clive Calder and Peter Vee producing, ‘Please Stay’ is a powerful soul ballad.

The song was written by Burt Bacharach and Bob Hilliard and was a number 14 hit in the US for The Drifters in 1961. That version is a bit of a doo-wop affair and one does get the impression listening to it that The Drifters are not as concerned if their woman went than Jonathan was. Their version feels a little glib about the issue when listened to next to Butler’s. With Butler, you get the impression that it will be the end of the world if she goes. Maybe it is because the Drifters were older when they sang the song and therefore further away from the angst of teenage love with all its ups and downs.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s South African soul music of this ilk was doing well with the likes of Una Valli, Peanut Butter Conspiracy and The Invaders and, although this song came towards the end of this era, it is a prime example of how good the local musicians could be at the style. ‘Please Stay’ deservedly made it to number 2 on the Springbok Charts and stayed in the top 20 for 13 weeks, during which run, Butler would celebrate his 14th birthday. Not bad for a lightie from Athlone in the Cape.

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

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