1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Mike Pilot”

Better The Devil You Know – Stingray

Better The Devil You Know - Stingray

Better The Devil You Know – Stingray

Stingray were a bit of a supergroup in South Africa, featuring Tidal Waves’ Mike Pilot, Dennis East, Rising Sons’ Eddie Boyle, Julian Laxton and Hocus’ Allan Goldswain. And with all these talents coming together singing ‘Better The Devil You Know’, well, one wouldn’t be taken to task for running out and buying this single without even hearing it, because you knew what these ‘devils’ were capable of.

And you wouldn’t have been disappointed as the song kicks off with a guitar riff that has ROCK!!!!! Written all over it. There is a bit of a Led Zep feel to this opening and this feel continues into the track with the thumping syncopation of the drums and East’s howling vocals. The chorus moves the song into more AOR territory, with higher pitched backing vocals intertwining with the raw rock of the lead.

And we took to the devil we knew as the song went all the way up to 4 on the Springbok Radio charts in 1979, spending 12 weeks in the top 20. This was a better peak than all of Dennis East’s solo hits, the Rising Sons hit and The Julian Laxton Band’s ones. Only Tidal Wave manged better as they hit the top spot with ‘Spider Spider’. But the average weeks the songs by the band members’ other hits managed was 9.2 and their peak positions averaged 9.4 so one could say that in the case of Stingray, the whole was better than the average of the parts.

‘Better The Devil You Know’ is one of the great tracks in the South African musical chest. It has all you need for a perfect rock song – wailing and fuzzy guitars, a howling lead vocal, high pitched backing vocals and thundering drums. Would surely rank highly in a top 100 South Africa rock tracks list.

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


Mango Mango – Tidal Wave

Mango Mango – Tidal Wave

Mango Mango – Tidal Wave

Tidal Wave’s ‘Mango Mango’ once held the record for falling out of the Springbok Top 20 from the highest position as it spent its last week in the chart at number 7. It held that record for over 6 years before Celi Bee & The Buzzy Bunch’s ‘Superman’ left the chart from number 5. The song was banned by the SABC after having spent 9 weeks in the chart. One can only guess at why it was banned, but it could have been the catchy chart of ‘69 ,69, 69’ which the song starts with where the censors suddenly woke to the fact that this could refer to a sexual position. Although there could be any number of other reasons they thought up.

Copies of the top 20 listing from the SABC archive, actually have ‘Mango Mango’ listed at number 13 the week it left the chart, but this was crossed out and every song moved up 1 position with a new one at number 20.

However, we did have 9 great weeks to enjoy this bouncy number which Mike Pilot and friends brought us. The song stomps along with a prominent drum sound that a piano plinky-plonks next to while a strong vocal pounds out the chanting chorus of ‘Maaango, Maaango’. As the song heads towards its climax the vocals become echoey and some yelps and screams give it a stereotypical jungle like feel.

‘Mango Mango’ would also make the LM Radio charts, enterting them on 17 January 1971 at number 5 (2 places higher than the position it left Springbok charts from). However, it was the 14th song to enter those charts at 5 or higher (counting from 15 March 1970), so that was not unusual. After entering at 5 it dropped to 17 the next week and then spent another week at 17 before leaving the chart, maybe it proved to be too fruity for the LM people as well as the SABC guys.

Where to find it:
Tidal Wave – Spider Spider – The Best Of Tidal Wave (2007), RetroFresh


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