1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Hotline”

Wozani – Hotline

Wozani – Hotline

Wozani – Hotline

Wozani means come here and its an apt title for a song that lures you into its clutches through seductive beats, hypnotic keyboards and a voice dipped in honey and whiskey. It had been 4 years since PJ Powers and Hotline burst on to the scene with their anthemic ‘You’re So Good To Me’ and 3 years since PJ sent chills down our spines with her awesome vocals on Hotline’s cover of The Beatles’ ‘Help’.

But then in 1983 (the following year) with the release of ‘Music For Africa’, there was a change in direction for the band. No longer were they a straight rock band, they were a South African rock band. Perhaps it was their wonderful pop duet with Steve Kekana, ‘Feel So Strong’ that sent them in new directions, but when you listen to the title and opening track to their 5th album, they had matured into this new sound and we were all comfortable with it.

‘Wozani’ has the circular rhythm of Zulu songs and also features the deep voiced Mathlathini style backing vocals repeating the title while PJ’s powerful vocals work their own magic on you. It is a song to immerse yourself in. The lyrics talk of simple times, of a man coming home to his wife and her inviting him to come and eat. The tune is not complex, neither is the subject matter which gives the song a feel good factor.  So, wozani and listen to this one.

Where to find it:
The Best Of P.J. Powers & Hotline – P.J Powers & Hotline (1991) Mike Fuller Music Records, PJCD300

Video:

Turn On You – Matthew van der Want

Turn On You – Matthew van der Want

Turn On You – Matthew van der Want

‘Turn On You’ was Matthew van der Want’s debut album and the title track opened the album. And if this was your introduction to Mr van der Want, it’s not a bad one to start with. It has a sort of REM sound going on, which sounds uplifting and melancholic at the same time. It’s pop, but not pop. It’s rock, but not rock.

The song comes from that period in South African music where the big bands were no longer looking to local sounds like eVoid, Hotline and such like did in the 80’s, but were looking to the rock and grunge sounds coming out of the US. Bands such as Counting Crows, Hootie and the Blowfish and the Spin Doctors come to mind when listening to ‘Turn On You’.

But there is a dark side to the lyrics which talk of ‘rummaging through your private things’ and which go on to say ‘I’m not sure what’s wrong with me’ and ‘I turn you on, I turn on you’. Given van der Want’s history, its not too difficult to see why he is insecure. He’s had a tough life and, from what I read somewhere, was living in a tent at some stage. However, the boy come good and produced some seriously good music once he started recording. He would go on to make even more polished and probably more immediate music alongside Chris Letcher, but this track marked him as someone to watch.

Where to find it:
Turn On You – Matthew van der Want, Tic Tic Bang records

Buy:
https://shiftyrecords.bandcamp.com/album/turn-on-you

Video:

Feel So Strong – Steve Kekana & Hotline

Feel So Strong - Steve Kekana & Hotline

Feel So Strong – Steve Kekana & Hotline

Sometimes when big named stars get together to record a duet the results are not that great and do not add up to the sum of the parts. Perhaps it is competing egos that result in the disappointing output, who knows. However when the local talents of PJ Powers and Hotline got together with our own Stevie Wonder, Steve Kekana, the result was not disappointing.

Written by PJ, ‘Feel So Strong’ is a song that jammed rock and township with a bit of gospel organ thrown in for good measure into 7 inches of vinyl brilliance and this is all coated in a thick layer of pop sensibility. The result is a catchy tune that rocks and you can dance to.

Despite the obvious contravention of Apartheid laws (a white woman and black man singing a song where the lyrics hint at a relationship across the colour bar – ‘I’ve never felt like this before/but being alone isn’t scary anymore’) the song got heavy rotation on the radio stations and climbed to number 6 on the Springbok Radio top 20. It was perhaps the use of phrases such as ‘I never thought I’d find a friend quite like you’ that made the censors think they were just friends.

Given Kekana’s European successes (he charted in Finland, Sweden and Switzerland) it is not too surprising that he and Hotline performed the song on the German Television music show Musikladen (see the Youtube video link below). Together they were beautiful and made beautiful music that rocked our world. Powers to the people who ‘Feel So Strong’.

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

Video:

Dancing In The Moonlight – Wozani

Dancing In The Moonlight – Wozani

Dancing In The Moonlight - Wozani

Dancing In The Moonlight – Wozani

George van Dyk, the driving force behind Wozani was a one time bass player with Hotline who, strangely enough, produced an album called ‘Wozani’ in 1985. Other members of the band included ex-Zia (a band that Clout’s Cindy Alter fronted) personnel Graham Clifford, Abe Sibiya and Bheki Gumbi. Wozani’s only output was an album released in 1990 called ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ and the title track opens the album.

It is no small surprise that the song harks back to the sounds that Hotline and Zia made – danceable synthpop infused with township jive sensibilities and an obligatory blast on the sax (courtesy of Mike Faure). ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ does not have to be taken literally. You can dance to it at any time of day or night as that is what it was made for. It bounces along, toe a-tapping and bodies a-swaying, with a joie de vivre that has party written all over it. It is not too dissimilar to Lionel Richie’s ‘Dancing On The Ceiling’ and ‘All Night Long’ except that it was plainly made in Africa and is less clinical and more earthy.

George van Dyk delivers a powerful vocal to this little known gem from a time when the country was changing and this kind of music was beginning to go out of fashion. Perhaps it was released a little too late to have made a major impact on the local charts, but anyone who enjoyed the ethnopop that was produced in South Africa in the mid-eighties should enjoy this laatlammetjie.

Where to find it:
Not available on CD, you need to look for the vinyl: Dancing In The Moonlight – Wozani (1990), RPM Records, RPM 7135 (cassette CCRPM 7135)

Video:

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