1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Fokofpolisiekar”

Toe Vind Ek Jou – Francois van Coke & Karen Zoid

Francois van Coke & Karen Zoid

Francois van Coke & Karen Zoid

This is what it has all been about. Anton Goosen’s ‘Bloemetjie Gedenk Aan Jou’, Bernoldus Niemand, Koos Kombuis, Johannes Kerkorrel and the whole Voelvry movement, the blues guys like Valiant Swart, Piet Botha and Die Blues Broers, Arno Carstens and the Springbok Nude Girls, Afrikaans punk from Fokofpolsiekar. All of these guys were building up to this one perfect Afrikaans song.

‘Toe Vind Ek Jou’ is undoubtedly the best Afrikaans song I have heard. It has everything, atmosphere, emotion, a great tune, brilliant vocals and harmonising. It is no wonder that at the time of writing this, the Youtube video had already had over 4.6 million views and spawned numerous cover versions (the Varsity Sing version is one of the better ones). In comparison Bok van Blerk’s ‘De La Rey’ which was also hugely popular and which has been around a lot longer only has 1.6 million views. I had sort of got to thinking that there were no surprises left in the Afrikaans music world but ‘Toe Vind Ek Jou’ proved me wrong I’m pleased to say.

This song with its almost understated soft drumming highlights the talents of 2 leading lights of South African music. Francois van Coke found his way to this song via the noise of Fokofpolisiekar and the heavy rock of van Coke Kartel while Karen Zoid has been ploughing her own furrow as our foremost ‘rock chick’ for a good while now. And while ‘Toe Vind Ek Jou’ is essentially a ballad, there is a feeling of a tension underlying the vocals and the lyrics hint that this relationship was not always a bed of roses. The first line ‘Ek lê my wapens neer’ (‘I lay down my arms’) introduces the surrender of the couple to their love which has survived a stormy relationship and as they have matured the anger of youth has dwindled and they are left clinging to each other. Possibly the best moment in the song is when Francois and Karen sing the lines ‘Ek het genoeg gegee, Ek het genoeg geskree, Ek het lankal terug geleer’ the second time around when Karen’s higher pitched voice goes head to head with Francois’ gravelly one and the result is something quite beautiful.

There are no pretensions in this song but plenty of control. Zoid and van Coke could have been tempted to make this just another Afrikaans rock song, but somehow they turned it into something special.

I have gone back to wondering if there will now be no further surprises coming from the Afrikaans music scene in South Africa, but I’m a little less certain of myself this time round.

Where to find it:
Francois van Coke – Francis van Coke (2015)

Video:

Varsity sing version:

Fokofpolisiekar – Fokofpolisiekar

Fokofpolisiekar

Fokofpolisiekar

Sometimes one can take a joke too far and Fokofpolisiekar took the joke of forming a band with a deliberately offensive name to the heights of the SA music scene and went on to spawn bands like Van Coke Kartel, aKing and Die Heuwels Fantasties as well as inspiring acts such as Jack Parrow and Die Antwoord.

They first came to prominence through the song with the same name as the band which is a thrashy, adrenaline fuelled piece of punk. Full of energy, roaring guitars and maniacal drums, there is something more to it than just noise – there is a tune in there, and a soaring sing-a-long chorus, things which a lot of punk bands tend to ignore as they endeavour to make a noise. And it is this fine balance between noise and tune that makes this song work.

Aside from that, the thing which set this apart from just about every other punk band on the planet was that these guys sang in Afrikaans. We had had the revolution from innocent sweet music to Afrikaans rock through guys like Anton Goosen, Koos Kombuis et al, and there had been a Afrikaans blues movement with Valiant Swart, Piet Botha and that crowd, but I think even with this hardening of the Afrikaans music sound, few could ever imagine Afrikaans punk working. But it does and with this, one of the very first songs of the genre, it could not have got off to a better start. There is anger, nose, tune and controversy all rolled into just over two and a half minutes of brilliance. In the 70s we all loved Squad Cars (a Springbok radio programme for those too young to remember), but in in the early 2000s we moved on and told those polisiekars where to go.

Where to find it:
Fokofpolisiekar 10 Year Anniversary – Fokofpolisiekar (2012), Rhythm Records

Hear here:
https://myspace.com/fokofpolisiekarband/music/album/fokofpolisiekar-10-year-anniversary-18961052

(Belville) Rock City – New World Inside

Dream Hope Fear - New World Inside

Dream Hope Fear – New World Inside

New World Inside. Sounds quite philosophical and inward looking. Also it doesn’t really give a clue to the type of music you may hear coming from a band with that name (unlike someone like, say, Metallica). However, it was far more radio friendly than the name of the band most of the member of NWI went on to form – Fokofpolisiekar.

Knowing the Fokof… connection, you may now have a better idea of what sort of music is in store for you when you put ‘(Belville) Rock City’ on. And it doesn’t disappoint. From the moment the frenetic drums thrash around in your speakers and the growling guitar kick in, you are in Belville Punk City. It’s fast and frenetic, and, despite the lyrics being in English, shock horror, these were nice young Afrikaans lads making that noise. Okay it doesn’t seem so shocking nowadays, we’ve become used to geraas vannie plaas as Fokofpolisiekar, aKing and Van Coke Kartel have become well known (household?) names. But back then it was pretty radical.

As this song speeds through your (sound) system, and thunders along the highways of your mind, you are sucked into its slipstream. You may think there is no philosophical inward looking here, especially when at one point the singer barks out at you “WE DON’T CARE!” But then comes the question: “Are we doomed to become our parents/Oh please God no”. And luckily for us, these guys didn’t. Afrikaaners didn’t do punk until these lads came along and when they did, they did so in fine style.

Where to find it:
Belville Rock City – Various (2008), Rhythm Records, RR095

Hear here:

Against All Odds – aKING

Against All Odds – aKING (Don’t bet against this one)

Against All Odds by aKING

Against All Odds by aKING

No, this is not a cover of the Phil Collins song from the movie of the same name, rather it is a melodic, solid rock song with neat guitar work, tight drumming and a heartfelt vocal delivery. When Fokofpolisiekar did as it was told, Hunter Kennedy and Jaco Venter were aching (did you see what I did there?) to make music under a different guise, so they formed aKING and have made a success of it.

It might just be me, but is there a resemblance between the opening guitar riff of Against All Odds and Baxtop’s JoBangles. If you took the funk out of the guitar intro to JoBangles and made it rock, you’ll see what I mean. Not that I’m saying Baxtop should be calling their lawyers, we don’t need another ‘Kookaburra’ vs ‘Down Under’ here.

Part of the video for the song (see below) was shot in one of my favourite record shops, Mabu Vinyl in Cape Town, but be warned, it does open up with a guy dancing around in his underpants. Perhaps that’s one of the ‘odds’ you’re up against, for it is very odd. But as distracting (and disconcerting) as it is, don’t let it deter you from the strength of the song.

Where to find it:

Against All Odds – aKING (2009), Rhythm Records, RR100

Lyrics:

curious and cautious
in a stagger on my heart’s track
how vast the world was
by the lights of lime we gather
inflamed like moths to a fire

nauseous like lovers
tripping on the heart’s trap
the gullible uncovered
a faint radiance
two dullards finding their colour

against all odds
caught between a curve and a soft spot
against all odds
unraveled in each other’s arms

awkward
in a state of undress
how shy it was to touch
uneven out the evening
discreetly mocking the morning

struck by the moon I threw myself over
the night has a rainbow mutely hovering

weightless under covers
slip into the heart’s lap
zealously juvenile
an old-fashioned raucous promise
nestles beneath the bravado

Video:

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