1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Four Jacks & A Jill”

Master Jack – Four Jacks & A Jill

Master Jack - Four Jacks & A Jill

Master Jack – Four Jacks & A Jill

‘Master Jack’ has been one of the most successful South African songs on the US Billboard charts. Yes, we had seen Hugh Masakela top the US charts with ‘Grazing In The Grass’, but that was recorded and produced in the US while the Four Jacks & A Jill version of ‘Master Jack’ was completely recorded and produced in South Africa. With its simple guitar tune, Glenys Lynne’s innocent vocals and positive lyrics, the song made its way to number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would also make it to number 33 in Germany as the band recorded a German version of it. This would inspire cover versions by the likes of Trini Lopez and German singer Heidi Bruhl.

The song was written by David Marks and some interpretations of the lyrics are that it was referring to BJ Vorster, who would become the Prime Minister of South Africa, while others think that it related to Hendrik Verwoed, the architect of apartheid. Some say that Master Jack refers to a mine foreman, an interpretation that holds water as Marks did work on the mines. Marks himself has also said that the assassination of Hendrik Verwoed helped him to complete the song, so it seems there are a number of ‘faces’ to this Master Jack.

However you chose to interpret the song, nothing can take away the beauty and simplicity of the Four Jacks & A Jill version which is a gentle track that floats on a cloud of melancholy with a pensive angel on lead vocals, harmonising with the other angels who have traded in their harps for a folk guitar. ‘Master Jack’ is a South African classic and will be with us for a long time, as long as we live in a strange, strange world.

Where to find it:
The Heart And Soul Of – Four Jacks & A Jill (2001), Gallo, CDREDD 661


Qongqothwane (The Click Song) – Miriam Makeba

The Click Song – Miriam Makeba

The Click Song – Miriam Makeba

Cher tried to cover this. You know Cher of Sonny & Cher fame. Four Jacks & A Jill also covered it and so did Coleske. Amampondo have bashed it out on the maribas. There are a variety of covers if you ever want to trawl through Youtube, including one by a couple of bratish American girls going under the name The Soap Girl and one by a Glaswegian dude called Tom Urie.

But one always comes back to the most famous version, that by Miriam Makeba. Yes, Makeba took this traditional Xhosa song that is usually sung at weddings and made it her own. She wowed US audiences with her pure singing voice that has a certain innocence to it, but not only could she sing, she could also click. The early recordings of her singing this have a certain raw-ness to it that gives it an authenticity. Although it became a song that is indelibly linked to Makeba, her 2 Hot 100 hits in the US did not include her rendition of The Click Song (her hits were ‘Pata Pata’ which got to number 12 and ‘Malayisha’ which made number 85).

The song sounds pretty cool played on the marimba’s a la Amampondo style, but it lacks the clicks. Cher couldn’t click. Four Jacks & A Jill and Coleske had the advantage over Cher of being South African, and they do a pretty decent job of the song. Even The Soap Girls and Tom Urie don’t do too badly in getting their tongues round the song (although skip past the rather long intro on The Soap Girls version). But none of them click (sorry) with the song in the same way Miraim did. So, all together now, ‘Igqira lendlela ngu qongqothwane…’

Where to find it:
Various – Sound Offerings (From South Africa) (1998), Gallo, CDREDD623


The Wonder Of Your Love – Jody Wayne

The Wonder Of Your Love – Jody Wayne

The Wonder Of Your Love – Jody Wayne

Jody Wayne topped the Sprinbok Top 20 with ‘The Wedding’ in 1970. After that his fortunes took a turn for the worse in terms of chart success as his next 3 hits, ‘A Time For Us’, ‘Everything Is Beautiful’ and ‘Louanne’ peaked at 12, 20 and 19 respectively. However, with ‘The Wonder Of You’ he once more climbed into the top 5 on our charts as the song peaked at number 4. It was his 8th song to make the charts and at that point he was tied second with Four Jacks & A Jill for number of hits on the chart by a local act, only being beaten by Billy Forrest’s 9.

Listening to ‘The Wonder Of You’ one can see why he regained the lost ground. It is a fine example of a 70’s country-pop ballad. It’s emotional, has a strong country guitar, a laid back rhythm and Jody’s sweet vocals which are interchanged with emotionally charged spoken bits. The slow beat of the song was perfect for any slow dance in its day and I’m sure many a couple have fond memories of this hit.

Yes, like a number of songs on this list, ‘The Wonder Of Love’ was of its time and does sound a little dated now, but it was a big hit in its time. It would be Wayne’s last top 5 hit, although ‘A Picture Of Patches’ and his duet with Four Jacks & A Jill’s Glenys Lynne, ‘Cookie’, would manage to get to 6 and 7 respectively. Jody was one of the top local acts of the 70’s scoring 7 hits during that decade. So, listen to one of his bigger hits of that time and enjoy the wonder of Jody.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 3 (1994) GSP, CDREDD 610


Ten Tons Of Loving – Johnny Collini

Ten Tons Of Loving - Johnny Collini

Ten Tons Of Loving – Johnny Collini

Ten tons is pretty heavy, but this song was not. Released in 1969, Johnny Collini makes light work of this John Edmond composition. With the composer also taking on the production ‘Ten Tons Of Loving’ is one of those pop songs that Cliff Richard or Herman’s Hermits perhaps would have taken into the charts in the middle to late 1960’s. It’s a lighthearted song about the huge amount of love the singer has.

Collini, who was born in Heidleberg and sang in The Zombies (no not the UK band featuring Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, but the South African one that morphed into Four Jacks & A Jill), brings a strong vocal to the song and with his voice being brought right to the fore, the instrumentation seems almost muted against his big voice.

‘Ten Tons Of Loving’ did not make the Springbok charts (only his hit ‘That’s Why God Made The World’ managed that), but was a popular tune in its day. Collini went on recorded a number of singles, but as far as we know he never released an album. With its title being what it was, one could regard the song as being about a Whole Lotta Love. Hopefully that last comment doesn’t go down like a lead balloon.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 2 (1994) GMP, CDGMPD 40486 (CD)


Master Jack – David Marks

Hidden Years - David Marks

Hidden Years – David Marks

Sometimes it’s better to have someone else sing the songs you write and when you listen to David Marks working his way through this classic tune that he penned you can’t help yearing for the flowery pop of the Four Jacks and the beautiful voice of Jill (Glenys Lynne). However, there is something strange, strange and alluring about this version which can be found on David Marks’ album ‘The Hidden Year’.

He slows the song down, dismisses that lovely plucked guitar work and replaces it with a lush orchestration and electric guitar. It must also be said that Marks does not have the best singing voice (but better than some that have committed their voice to vinyl – Anneline Kriel springing immediately to mind) and he puts emphasis on words in what I would regard as strange, strange places.

Despite all this, Marks’ version is interesting as it gives one an insight into perhaps how the song originally sounded in his mind and its not often you get to hear this where the artist who had a hit with a song is not the one who wrote it. And here we get the idea that this song was about the beauty of the world around us, not only from the lyrics, but from the way Marks sings and arranges this version. There is a sense of a person in a beautiful landscape, with a wide sky full of stars above them, slowly swirling round to take it all in. There is a depth to this version that Four Jacks and A Jill’s one never had. Both are great tracks to listen to, Four Jacks for those frivolous moments when you don’t feel like deeper feelings, but just want to be happy, and Marks’ version for when you want to sit back and contemplate life, the universe and everything.

Where to find it:
David Marks – The Hidden Years – Songs from 1964 to 1994, 3rd Ear Music, 3eM CD 003

Timothy – Carike Keuzenkamp

Timothy – Carike Keuzenkamp

Timothy - Carike Keuzenkamp

Timothy – Carike Keuzenkamp

Carike was one of the darlings of the Afrikaans music scene. She was born in Den Haag in The Netherlands, but moved to South Africa where she made a name for herself as a singer. Her full name is Elizabeth Maria Magdalena van Zyl, so if you thought spelling out the long surname Keuzenkamp was a pain, just be glad she chose a different stage name to her full real one.

In 1967 she starred in the film ‘Die Professor En Die Prikkelpop’ in which she sang a version of Four Jacks & A Jill’s hit ‘Timothy’. The film extract on Youtube that shows her singing the song would have been regarded as quite raunchy back then as it shows Carike and some scantily clad girls sitting around in a room while Carike performs an acoustic version of the song. And they moan about the outfits the girls wear in pop videos these days!

The film version of the song is a simple guitar and voice recording whereas the version that appears on The Best Of SA Pop series is fleshed out with piano and a little bass, but it is still a simple arrangement which relies heavily on Carike’s pure vocals. This compared to the Four Jacks And A Jill version which has drums and some brassy bits and presents a much fuller sound.

There probably were and probably will be lots of arguments about which version is better. The public back in 1967 thought both were groovy (because groovy was a word in use back then) and sent both Carike and Four Jacks & A Jill to the top of the charts with their respective versions. Whichever one you decide on, it is worth listening to this one for its more innocent and sparser approach.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 1 (1994) GMP, CDGMPD 40485 (CD)


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