1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “eVoid”

Shadows – Wonderboom



When you take on a classic, you often take a huge risk. ‘It’s not as good as the original’ or even, ‘why don’t they just leave the old songs alone, you can’t make it better’ will often be thrown at you, invariably by the older generation who grew up with the original. And I must admit, I am like that sometimes with cover versions or remakes of films that I grew up liking.

However, with Wonderboom’s take on arguably the best South African track of the 80s, I am quite content to sit back and enjoy one of my favourites being given a update, and I did my growing up in the 80s. Wonderboom are one of a handful of South African acts who could have pulled this off in this style, injecting the the old ‘bundu bush’ ethno-punk original with a hard edged rock swagger and the result is an in-yer-face, wall-of-sound song that retains the feel and tune of the original, but has dragged it through the bush backwards into the naughties.

It is a much more straight forward cover than their take on Rabbitt’s ‘Charlie’ where they took that one and turned it into a heavy kwaito track and I would have to say it is not as good as the original (because I am old), but it certainly shows respect to the éVoid version and as one who grew up with the original, you can’t ask for more than that. Like nearly every cover of a classic, this will live in the, erm, shadow of the original, but it is not so pale that you can hardly make out the details shadow. It is a clear, well-defined one created by a sharp African sun, it is one that demands to be noticed.

Where to find it:
Rewind – Wonderboom (2001), David Gresham Records, CDDGR 1533


Santana Sessions:

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

I Am A Fadget – éVoid

I Am A Fadget - éVoid

I Am A Fadget – éVoid

If by some weird twist of fate you had not already heard ‘Shadows’ or ‘Taximan’ and then decided to buy this strange looking LP (because they were LPs back then) with an opening track called ‘I Am A Fadget’ thinking that it some how related to British Indie band Fad Gadget (Fad + Gadget = Fadget), you would probably have gone ‘Blimey,’ (because you are a fan of British music and the poms say ‘blimey’) ‘that Frank Tovey’ (the front man of Fad Gadget) ‘has gone all ethnic and funky.

On ‘I Am A Fadget’ the Windrich boys took those serious-sythn-sounds-from-the-lower-notes-on-the-keyboard sound that bands like Fad Gadget were playing and injected it with some earthy Africa rhythm and threw in a funky guitar over the top of it to create a jerky, fashion conscious slice of ethno-pop-punk. Erik’s voice stretches across the quirky beats giving an overall effect of something unsettled and nervous, tightly wound and full of pent up energy.

The song did not do as well ‘Shadows’ and ‘Taximan’ and its easy to see why. It is not as catchy as those two, it is a little too edgy for the mainstream, but it is a great song that probably would be better remembered if it didn’t have to live in the, erm, shadow, of its bigger brothers.

Where to find it:
éVoid – éVoid (2000), RetroFresh, freshcd 106


Weeping – Erik Windrich


Erik Windrich

Okay, we need to start this one with a statement that this is not a cover of the classic Bright Blue song by the éVoid frontman. No this is a song which Erik wrote around the same time that Bright Blue were writing their song, however, Erik took about 26 years longer to release his song of the same name.

A lot had happened in that time. Erik, had re-located to London with his brother Lucien and the 2 of them were plying their trade as éVoid, performing live at The Springbok Bar in Covent Gardens. After years of that, things went quiet on the Windrich front till Erik decided to record a new album and when he did, he included this track which had been sitting around in his back pocket for a while. He found himself a few musicians to record with, including a guy called Mosi Conde from Guinea who brought a kora to the proceedings.

The result is a gently bittersweet song that has Mosi’s kora cascading around Erik’s guitar picking, the latter still having that South African sound that éVoid had managed to pluck from their instruments. It is a matured éVoid sound, no longer the manic bounce around the stage stuff, but a more refined take on life, but no less catchy. Like the éVoid track, ‘The Race Of Tan’, the lyrics ponder the fate of those whose ancestory was regarded as questionable and borderline acceptable under the apartheid regime. It looks at identity and racism.

This song should not be played next to the Bright Blue one to compare them just because they share a title. Both songs bring out the tears because of the injustices seen in the country back then, but while Bright Blue drag the extra sobs from you due to the dramatic beauty of their composition, Windrich seduces them from you using sheer gentle beauty.

Where to find it:
backyard Discovery – Erik Windrich (2003)


Hear here:

Taximan – éVoid

Taximan - éVoid

Taximan – éVoid

The main force behind éVoid were the Windrich brothers Erik and Lucien. And behind the massive hit ‘Shadows’ there was the little brother ‘Taximan’ a song which has had to live in the, erm, shadow of it’s big brother all these years. Had they not written ‘Shadows’ éVoid would have always been remember as the band that brought you ‘Taximan’.  There may be some out there who prefer this younger brother to the older statesman hit and that is perfectly acceptable because, well, ‘Taximan’ is such a brilliant song in its own right.

The song itself is a bit like a taxi ploughing its trade between Soweto and Jozi. It’s overloaded with great ideas, it doesn’t obey the usual rules but choses to plough its own furrow, there is a great dance beat booming away, someone is leaning out the song shouting ‘heya!heya!’ and then it comes to an abrupt stop without much warning.

‘Taximan’did not fare (no, not what you pay for the ride) quite as well as ‘Shadows’ but reached a respectable 6 on the Springbok Charts in comparison to the latter’s 3. That said, it did manage number 3 on the Radio 5 charts where ‘Shadows’ stalled at 4. One can just imagine the sibling rivalry that went on in the LP sleeve way back when. Both songs have grown up and matured, yet both sound as vibrant and youthful as they did in 1983/4. So come out of the shadows for a bit, head out on that highway and head into town with the most loveable ‘Taximan’ in South African musical history (with Karen Zoid’s ‘Taxi’ coming a close second).

Where to find it:
éVoid (2000), RetroFresh, freshcd 106
SA Top 40 Hits of All Time – Various Artists (2001), Sting Music, STIDFCD037


Kwela Walk – éVoid

Kwela Walk – éVoid

I Am A Fadget (12" single) (1984) WEA, WIM 415

I Am A Fadget (12″ single) (1984)

‘Kwela Walk’ was on the B-Side of the ‘I Am A Fadget’ single, but was not included on éVoid’s 1983 eponymous debut album. It also didn’t feature amongst the bonus material on the 2000 Retro Fresh release of that album, so lovers of this joyfully bouncy track had to wait till September of 2001 when it was included in the CD re-release of ‘Here Comes The Rot.’

Quite why this song was relegated to a b-side is still a mystery to me. Yes, it’s not quite in the same league as ‘Shadows’ (but then that song is in a league of its own) but it certainly is as infectious as ‘Taximan’ or ‘I Am A Fadget’. It has enough township joie de vivre, whistles and mbaqanga rhythms to lift the soul and get the feet tapping. I think few can deny that ‘Kwela Walk’ can stand shoulder to shoulder not only with éVoid’s output, but with any song to have come out of the southern tip of Africa.

Where to find it:

I Am A Fadget (12″ single) (1984) WEA, WIM 415
Here Comes The Rot (CD re-issue) – éVoid, (1986, 2001), Retro Fresh, FRESHCD117


Shadows – éVoid

Shadows – éVoid (Shady music from the 80’s)

Brothers Lucien and Erik Windrich started out plying their trade in a band called Void. A cover version of The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ is the only known release under that name. It was only when they added the ‘e’ in front of the band’s name and recruited drummer Wayne Harker that things really started to happen. With their fresh ethnopunk sound, outrageous fadget fashion and energetic live shows, they soon caught the attention of the public with a song that would go on to become a South African classic.

‘Shadows’ is a song full of feelings and texture. It seems to glide out the speakers at you and transports you through the air above the bundu bush of Africa. It is as timeless as Africa itself.

The song got to number 3 on the Springbok Radio Charts (4 on Radio 5, and number 1 on Capital 604 charts) and helped make the band’s eponymous debut the first local album to top the Springbok Album charts which had started in 1982.

In 2000 Retro Fresh, the record label dedicated to re-releasing classic SA music on CD, put out the album ‘éVoid’ which contained some bonus tracks not on the original vinyl, and it fast became one of the best selling CD’s on that label, a testament to the popularity of the band, but in particular, the song ‘Shadows’.

A year later, Wonderboom, featuring one time drummer for Void, Danny de Wet, paid homage to the achievements of éVoid by recording a gritty version of  ‘Shadows’.

Where to find it:

éVoid (1983, 2000), RetroFresh, freshcd 106 (CD, downloads)
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 2 (1994) GMP, CDGMPD 40486 (CD)


I had the strangest dream
In the bundu bush of Africa
I was king of kings
There I stood, the jungle lion
I had the strangest dream

Shadows, shadows, Shadows
I’m waiting, waiting, in the shadows
The lion hunting down the lover
Burning with the hunger

In your eyes I saw fear
Though you stood like a silver spear
Trembling in the wind
I smelt the scent
Your sweet, sweet scent
Your eyes
So full of fear


I muscled into attack, my body arcing through the air
You became a burning bush
And I a victim of your snare


(Words & Music Erik & Lucien Windrich)

Live at Concert in the Park :

Wonderboom Cover:

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