1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “End Conscription Campaign”

The Rising Tide – Bright Blue

The Rising Tide - Bright Blue

The Rising Tide – Bright Blue

Some great songs seem destined to live in the shadow of another offering from the same artist where one captures the public imagination to such an extent that it almost precludes listening to the other. For example ‘Taximan’ seems to play second fiddle to éVoid’s ‘Shadows’ and Clout’s ‘Save Me’ gets less attention than ‘Substitute’. To that list add Bright Blue’s ‘The Rising Tide’ which will always be overlooked in favour of ‘Weeping’.

Yes, ‘The Rising Tide’ is not as dramatic as ‘Weeping’ preferring to float on a cushion of laidbackness rather than loom large as its big brother does. However, just because it sounds more ‘on the beach’ than ‘in the city’ does not mean it didn’t have as serious a political message. While ‘Weeping’ took on the whole of apartheid and expounded on the senselessness of it, ‘The Rising Tide’ concentrates on a specifically ‘white’ issue, but which had ramifications for the blacks in the country too as it tackles the subject of conscription. (For any non-South Africans reading this, under aparthead white males were conscripted to serve in the South African Defense Force for a period of up to 2 years).

The song references David Bruce in the line ‘David, now that your eyes don’t shine anymore’. Bruce was one of the first to object to conscription on a purely political basis. Conscientious objection (i.e. that based on religious grounds) had been going on for years, but here was a guy prepared to face 6 years imprisonment (solitary confinement if the rumours were true) for his political beliefs. ‘The Rising Tide’ is an anthem of solidarity with David and the 22 others who took a stand against what the government of the day were doing. It is a beautifully crafted song which oozes a real sense of caring, not only about the issue of conscription, but also for the fate of those who objected.

So while not a big picture song like ‘Weeping’, this is still worthy of a listen every now and then reminding us of some of the specifics, while doing so, dare I say it, with a catchier tune.

Where to find it:
Every Now And Then – The Best So Far… 1984-2001 (2001) Universal


National Madness – The Aeroplanes

The Aeroplanes

The Aeroplanes

The Aeroplanes never really took off in South Africa, well not to the masses, but they were one of those shifty Shifty groups that did well in the ‘alternative’ or ‘underground’ music scene. It’s not too difficult to see why they never hit the mainstream, their music is too angular and unpolished and their lyrics were too close to the bone for the average South African. And that is what made them so good. Despite their lack of polish and their music being somewhat jolting, they still managed to inject the songs with some great lo-fi tunes. Their songs had genius written all over them.

‘National Madness’, by it’s very title, would not have garnered much (if any) airplay. The fact that this song first appeared on the End Conscription Campaign’s (“ECC”) tongue-in-cheekly titled album ‘Forces Favourites’, would also not have helped its cause (but did help the ECC’s).

There are two versions of the song to choose from. The one that appears on The Aeroplanes’ ‘Greatest Hits’ has sad but angry vocals which are applied to raw beats and bandaged up with bruised guitars. It is an open wound of a song where you can feel the hurt. A second version which appears on the ‘Shotdown’ compilation and re-issue of ‘Forces Favourites’ is a slightly smoothed over one with a burping sax and a female backing vocal is thown in. This does take away some of the edge of the original, but none of the venom. Either way, the song worms itself into your brain, unsettling you slightly and doing what all good music does, makes you think.

Where to find it:
Shot Down (Resistance Music from Apartheid South Africa) – Various Artists (2006),Shifty Records
Greatest Hits – The Aeroplanes, (No label or year given) CDCJM001
Forces Favourites – Various Artists (1986), Shifty Records (SHIFT10)

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