Around 1980 punk arrived in South Africa with bands such as Asylum Kids, Dog Detachment and Peach leading the way. One of the lesser known bands to take to the genre was Durban band The Gents. Consisting of Kevin Flame, Tim Rocker and Sydne B Good (not been able to find out their real names), they produced, as far as I have been able to find out, a single single and a single album.
The album was called ‘The Gents’ and featured Jo Day on backing vocals, but oddly did not feature ‘School Kids’, their only single. Nor did the b-side of the single, ‘1917’, make the album. The latter is a darker, more sinister track and is a pretty decent song in its own right, but it would have had a less wider appeal than ‘School Kids’. Faster, lighter and poppier, ‘School Kids’ motors along on a sea of mixed up hormones as it tries to make its way in life. It features a rough and tumble guitar that has all the energy and innocence of a playground barney between friends while Flame’s vocals mix the coolness of a schoolboy that tries to hide a slightly romantic side.
It’s a catchy tune but with a bit of punk venom thrown in for good measure. It captures those angst filled high school days when one is caught in the no-man’s land between boyhood and manhood. Cocksure and vulnerable at the same time but played with a maturity and skill that belies the line ‘we’re just school kids, holding on’. Sadly, the band disappeared after their brief career and they weren’t noticed by many. Fortunately though there is a Youtube video of ‘School Kids’ so you can hear it for yourself.
Where to find it:
Vinyl: The Gents – The Gents (1982), Rap Records, SRLP C5