1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Turn On You – Matthew van der Want

Turn On You – Matthew van der Want

Turn On You – Matthew van der Want

‘Turn On You’ was Matthew van der Want’s debut album and the title track opened the album. And if this was your introduction to Mr van der Want, it’s not a bad one to start with. It has a sort of REM sound going on, which sounds uplifting and melancholic at the same time. It’s pop, but not pop. It’s rock, but not rock.

The song comes from that period in South African music where the big bands were no longer looking to local sounds like eVoid, Hotline and such like did in the 80’s, but were looking to the rock and grunge sounds coming out of the US. Bands such as Counting Crows, Hootie and the Blowfish and the Spin Doctors come to mind when listening to ‘Turn On You’.

But there is a dark side to the lyrics which talk of ‘rummaging through your private things’ and which go on to say ‘I’m not sure what’s wrong with me’ and ‘I turn you on, I turn on you’. Given van der Want’s history, its not too difficult to see why he is insecure. He’s had a tough life and, from what I read somewhere, was living in a tent at some stage. However, the boy come good and produced some seriously good music once he started recording. He would go on to make even more polished and probably more immediate music alongside Chris Letcher, but this track marked him as someone to watch.

Where to find it:
Turn On You – Matthew van der Want, Tic Tic Bang records

Buy:
https://shiftyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/turn-on-you

Video:

Saving The Scenes – Van Der Want & Letcher

Saving The Scenes – Van Der Want & Letcher

Bignity

Bignity

Chris Letcher and Matthew van der Want have teamed up a couple of times to make music and this has produced some great results. Both ‘Low Riding’ and ‘Bignity’ are worth having in any self-respecting SA Rock fan’s album collection, and their solo projects are also worth checking out. But when they get together, there is a synergy that makes it quite special.

‘Saving The Scenes’ is one of the stand out tracks on 2002’s ‘Bignity’. It sound a little like those whiny but laid back grunge acts like Counting Crows but without the angst laden vocals. The song seems to float along on the back of a head-nodding beat and if there was such a genre as chilled-rock, this would slot into it nicely. On a lyrical front, there is a reason why the song did not make it on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. Consider the line ‘O silver stars make me nervous, make me wanna run join the Taliban.’

‘Bignity’ made the Mail & Guardian’s list of the top 20 albums of the first decade of this millennium, and with a track like ‘Saving The Scenes’ on it, I am not at all surprised that it did.

Where to find it:

Bignity – Van der Want/Letcher (2002), Sheer Sound, SHIF004

Video:

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