1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Grahame Beggs”

Woman Yeah – The Gonks

Woman Yeah – The Gonks

Woman Yeah – The Gonks

The Gonks hailed from Durban and were the backing band for Billy Forrest (who was going under the name Quentin E Klopjaeger at the time) on his single ‘Lazy Life’. The mainstay of the band in its early line up was a guy called Howard Schachat who was the guitarist for the band. He had been in a band called Invisible Church before that.

The Gonks only made a few singles and then disappaeared, but one of those singles was ‘Nobody But Me’ which featured as its b-side ‘Woman Yeah’, a fuzzy garage-ey piece of rock pop from 1967. It has an insistent guitar riff that drills itself into your head going round and round while the vocals come across as a little bit soul, a little bit punk and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, giving it an interesting effect.

The track was written by band members Noel McDermott and Craig Ross, the latter eventually moving on to be part of Freedom’s Children. Grahame Beggs (who was one of the main members of Charisma who had a massive hit with ‘Mammy Blue’) produced the tracks.

There is not a lot of Gonks material available and what is out there is hard to find but the chaps behind the excellent ‘Astral Daze’ series decided that reviving an old Gonks b-side for the second compilation was a good idea and I for one agree. This is great stuff from what would be a lost era of SA music if we didn’t have the archive trawlers that we are fortunate enough to have. I found a copy of ‘Nobody But Me’, the a-side of the single on Youtube and its not bad, but I think the Astral Daze dudes chose right with going for the b-side.

Where to find it:
Astral Daze 2 – Various Artists, RetroFresh, (2009), FRESHCD162


Afrikaan Beat – Shangaans

Jungle Drums - Shangaans

Jungle Drums – Shangaans

Now here’s a strange one. This is a band named after an African tribe, but made up of white guys. And on top of this they are perfoming a cover of a song written by a German guy who was trying to make music that sounded African.

The Shangaans were a 5 piece South African band whose line up included Grahame Beggs (who had great success with his band Charisma), Alain D. Woolf and a guy called Glen Muller (one wonders if they were ever tempted to call themselves the Glen Muller Orchestra). ‘Afrikaan Beat’ was a cover of a track by Bert Kaempfert who had had some internation success with his ‘African’ styled music. The local lad’s version of it appeared on their album ‘Jungle Drums’ which garnered some international interest and was released in The UK, Germany, Australia, France and Spain and probably a few more countries.

The Shangaans substituted the trumpet that Kaepfert used to carry the tune with a penny whistle type keyboard sound and while it lacked the warmth of the brassy version Kaempfert produced, this gave the song a more home grown feel as it trips along merrily, dragging tapping feet in its wake. There is an innocence to the song which gives it a 50s feel despite it being released in 1965. But it is this bright and breezy pop feel that gives the tune its appeal.

Where to find it:
Jungle Drums (Vinyl) – The Shangaans (1965)


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