1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Electric Petals”

Maid In Africa – Electric Petals

Polynation - Electric Petals

Polynation – Electric Petals

This is the second song from the solitary Electric Petals album, ‘Polynation’, to appear on this list. The punny title is a trademark of Danny de Wet, who was in early eVoid and went on to be one of the driving forces behind Wonderboom, and he also supplies the bittersweet lyrics.

The song is essentially a conversation between a white western tourist and a black South African ‘maid’. The tourist arrives in the country and buys up all the souvenirs on offer, even wanting to have the beautiful sky. But the ‘maid’ answers that, even if you were born and bred here, the sky is not ours to give. The the plight of the black people is raised and the tourist asks what can she do? But again the answer is that she can’t know that, even if she had been born and bred in Africa. The song then goes on to say that despite being down trodden, they still ‘shine through the ugliness’.

This bittersweet contrast between the ugliness of apartheid and the way that people can still ‘shine through’ brings a poingnancy to this song which subtly weaves a thin thread of township guitar into the predominantly western sounding song. This effect is further enhanced when the song moves into the ‘shines through’ section and a then, not very well known, Vusi Mahlasela delivers what the sleeve notes to the CD describe as a ‘one in a million vocal’ which underscores the ability to shine.

The album and the song were largely ignored by the general public at the time and that probably had more to do with the uncomfortable politics in the lyrics than the music itself as it is packed with great tunes with ‘Maid In africa’ being one of the standout ones.

Where to find it:
Polynation – The Electric Petals (1995), Teal Records, MMTCD-1906

The Party Song – The Electric Petals

The Party Song – The Electric Petals

Polynation - The Electric Petals

Polynation – The Electric Petals

The Electric Petals were Danny de Wet (early eVoid and Wonderboom), Angus Rose and Ajay. They produced a single album (‘Polynation’) and then went their separate ways. But what an album it was. It contained some great music with witty, incisive lyrics.

In the ‘The Party Song’ the Petals ask “How long till we dance to The Party Song?” and they are not imploring you to get up and boogie to this particular piece. It’s not really a song you can dance to and ‘the party’ is not a political one, it’s the celebration of the end of apartheid. This is made clearer in the line “I’m not talking about changes in the weather, I’m just talking about living happily together”.

Starting off slightly maudlin with a funereal organ and light military beat, it soon grows to a stomp-a-thon song, guitars flaring, drums banging the occasional sax going mad and a rousing chorus that seems to include everybody in the studio. This chorus is not quite in the league of Band Aid or USA For Africa, but the almost rabble-like quality of it makes it right for this song. It’s a song for the people and for the people to party to and the chorus certainly seems to be partying.

Where to find it:
Polynation – The Electric Petals (1995), Teal Records, MMTCD-1906

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