1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Corporal Punishment”

Mission To Cairo – The Softies

Mission To Cairo – The Softies

Mission To Cairo – The Softies

The Softies were a band fronted by Mark Bennett from Corporal Punishment. It also featured Hannepoort van Tonder who had been in the Gerformeerde Blues Band and would work with The Radio Rats. With these two included in the line up one would expect a far more punky sound akin to their other bands than what ‘Mission To Cairo’ actually brings us.

And looking at the track’s title, one might perhaps expect something with a more Arabic sound. But what you get is something akin to The Dynamics with much more of a ska sound than punk. But is is also not pure ska because the beat is not quite right for it to be, rather it is the brass sounds that warms the track that give it this sort of feel. So, what are we left with?

Well its kind of poppy, slightly ska-ish, a little bit punky, somewhat afro-pop and totally enjoyable. If you want to classify it by its sound, perhaps best to sit it next to your Aeroplanes tracks as it is catchy, but not mainstream. In a piece I found on the band, they talk about trying to make clever pop. They were influenced by the smarter UK pop bands of the 80’s such as ABC, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Haircut 100 and these influences show through, but don’t dominate as Bennett drags some of his Corporals’ experience with him into the track.

‘Mission To Cairo’ was a single the band released in 1984 and they followed it up with the album ‘An Evening With The Softies’ and that was it for this polished and thoughtful pop band, which was a pity as they should have (and could have) done so much more.

Where to find it:
https://shiftyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/an-evening-with-the-softies

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Button Your Lip – Illegal Gathering

Illegal Gathering

Illegal Gathering

Illegal Gathering where one of the many Shifty records signings that featured James Phillips. Phillips had been in The Cherry Faced Lurchers, Corporal Punishment, Suburban Blank Boys and What Colours and appeared in the line up of Illegal Gathering alongside Karl Helgard, David Ledbetter and Wayne Raath.

‘Button Your Lip’ first appeared on ‘The Voice Of Nooit’ which was released as a cassette feature Corporal Punishment on the other side of the tape. The songs for the album were recorded in Cape Town in 1985 and would include a version of ‘Hou My Vas Korporaal’, a song that Phillips would make famous under the name Bernoldus Niemand’

Like a lot of the songs from Phillips’ bands at the time, ‘Button Your Lip’ has an ominous sound to it. It’s edgy stripped down stuff that was never going to have people flocking to buy it. It was aimed at an alternative market. One for whom music needed to prick one’s conscious, one for whom words meant more than a happy tune you can dance to. ‘Button Your Lip’ has a strange fascination to it. It lures you into an unsettled place and shakes you up a little before ejecting you, leaving you feeling somehow enriched by the experience despite the discomfort it brings.

During the 80’s in South Africa, gatherings were banned and people had to button their lips if they did not want a run in with the law. But people like James Phillips and his various bands did gather to create some of the most important music of the time. ‘Button Your Lip’ is just one of a multitude of tracks that came out of those creative groups.

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

Video:

Hear here:
https://illegalgathering.bandcamp.com/

Johnny’s Conscience – Corporal Punishment

Johnny’s Conscience – Corporal Punishment

Corporal Punishment

Corporal Punishment

In the UK, Punk was born out of the disaffection with the dire economic situation there and a general boredom with prog rock. In South Africa, it tended to revolve more about the disaffection with the political set up of apartheid. But where the UK punks tended to be thrashy and noisy, spitting out their venom, their South African counterparts were more refined, but no less vociferous.

James Phillips was one of the people at the forefront of this movement and one of his early groups was Corporal Punishment which he and Carl Raubenheimer were members of. The band’s name could have two meanings – physical punishment (like getting cuts at school, for those of you old enough to remember, but would rather forget such things) or the punishment dished out by the Corporal in the army because you hadn’t rolled up your toothpaste tube neatly enough (once again one for those of you old enough to remember, but would rather forget).

‘Johnny Conscience’ is a dark and brooding affair. It slinks down an unlit back alley in a seedy city, furtive eyes looking left and right, hands pushed deep into pockets. It wearily climbs the stairs, the smell of piss and vomit all around, and finally gets to the dingy flat where it shoots up and fades into oblivion. It weaves its way round your mind, unsettling your nerves and leaving you drained. But there is something addictive about it that keeps luring you back into its foreboding lair. And what is music if it doesn’t make you feel?

Where to find it:
Corporal Punishment – Corporal Punishment (1986) Shifty Records

Video:

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