1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Archive for the tag “Johannes Kerkorrel”

Trek Oop Jou Gordyne – Bacchus Nel

In Die Arms Van Die Nag - Bacchus Nel

In Die Arms Van Die Nag – Bacchus Nel

Bacchus, a Standerton man, was born Stephen Nel, and was born with the gift of sight. However, when he was just 21 and working as an insurance salesman, his Volkswagen Beetle collided with a truck. The accident would leave Stephen blind. Out of this tragedy grew something quite amazing, an ability to play, sing and compose music.

He was spotted by Piet Botha who helped him record his debut album, ‘In Die Arms Van Die Nag’. The songs are full of images and feelings with generally a sort of sweet and sad feel to them. They have a kind of late Sunday afternoon feel to them where you are relaxed from the weekend but the spectre of Monday’s work is just making its presence felt.

‘Trek Oop Jou Gordyne’ (open your curtains) is, for me, the stand out track on the album. It is one of the more upbeat ones which tells you to ‘trek oop jou gordyne/dat die Here’s lig op jou kan inskyn’ (open your curtains so that God’s light can shine on you’). It is an invitation to look around and count your blessings. The lyrics go on to talk about valuing family and cheekily quotes Johannes Kerkorrel’s ‘Sit Die Af’ but instead of sitting dit af to get away from the apartheid propaganda of the day, Bacchus says ‘sit dit af’ to spend time in the kitchen with the family.

The song bounces along on some neat bongo slapping with Bacchus’ guitar seeming to come in halfway between Duane Eddy and Sipho Gumede, drawing both on western rock and African sounds. And cutting a path through the music is Bacchus’ voice which is both sharp and mellow. So, open your curtains and play Bacchus Nel out loud so that not only you, but the world outside can hear this special talent.

Where to find it:
In Die Arms Van Die Nag – Bacchus Nel (2005)

Video:

Six String Razor – Mauritz Lotz

Six String Razor – Mauritz Lotz

Six String Razor – Mauritz Lotz

Lovers of a good old work out on the electric guitar will certainly enjoy this track. With shades of heavy metal groups such as Iron Maiden and Scorpion mixing with the more AOR sounds of groups like Journey, Asia and Foreigner, this instrumental track is prefect for you. It is also a good one for would be air-guitar heroes.
Mauritz Lotz has not really been at the forefront of South African music, but is certainly a ‘back room’ muso of note not only having worked with the likes of Mango Groove, Johannes Kerkorrel and Lesley Rae Dowling locally but has also worked with international stars such as Chris de Burgh, Dave Matthews and Ice Cube. And it’s not too surprising when listening to ‘Six String Razor’, the title track from his 1990 album.
From the outset, you know you are going to ROCK!!!! There is that sort of scratchy, ominous rock intro that continues throughout the song, holding it together and keeping it grounded, allowing Lotz’s guitar to soar, race and yowl at will. And it does so in a way you that has you soaring, racing and yowling along with it.
‘Six String Razor’ is as crisp and clean as any shave that a razor company will tell you you can get. It gets close to your skin, but never irritates and leaves you feeling refreshed. I like it Lotz.
Where to find it:
Six String Razor – Mauritz Lotz (1990), Tusk, TUCD12

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:

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