1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “No Friends Of Harry”

A Long Way Home – No Friends Of Harry

One Came Running - No Friends Of Harry

One Came Running – No Friends Of Harry

If, like me, you spent your teenage years listening to Barney Simon’s Powerhaus on a Saturday afternoon/evening, you were probably doing a double take when Barney introduced us to a local band called No Friends Of Harry and the song ‘Long way back Home’. It was not that were not used to Gothic music as Barney had already educated us in that, playing the likes of Sisters Of Mercy, Fields Of The Nephelim and such like.

But this? This was a local band. British Goth bands were acceptable, but wasn’t there too much sunlight in South Africa for Goths to exists here? Well exist they did and they were doing a darn good job of being Goths. No Friends of Harry were the stand out band for the genre in SA. There were some others that had potential like The Gathering, but NFOH were the ones with the staying power.

‘A Long Way Home’ has a menacing bassline that starts the song off and doesn’t relent until the last black drop of the songs has been squeezed through your speakers. It is kept company along the way by some rusty edged guitars. And no Goth song would be complete without some dark and brooding vocals which Rob McLennan supplies with aplomb.

No Friends Of Harry paved the way for the likes of Ashton Nyte and his band The Awakening, but they were the originals, the Gothfathers of the genre in South Africa and ‘A Long Way Back Home’ will always be amongst the songs one reaches for if you are looking to go over to the dark side in sunny South Africa.

Where to find it:
The Present Has Passed: The Best Of No Friends Of Harry (2003), Fresh Music FRESHCD129



White Rabbit – No Friends Of Harry

In From The Cold

In From The Cold

When you cover an old Jefferson Starship song from one of their most highly rated albums (‘Surrealistic Pillow’) and which goes on to be rated by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top 500 greatest songs of all time (albeit 478th on the list), you are surely either brave or stupid. I think one can safely say that Rob McLennan and his band were not stupid when they took on this challenge.

No Friends Of Harry, were the front runners in the local goth/alternative scene in the late eighties and soon after the appearance of the debut mini album ‘One Came Runing’, a few of their tracks appeared on the brilliant compilation of alternative music of that era, ‘In From The Cold’. In amongst these was their blistering version of the old Jefferson Starship number.

Of course comparisions are almost obligatory when discussing cover versions so here goes. For a start, JS’s version is a builder with the instrumentation sounding almost muted while Grace Slick’s witchy vocals start off as threatening and dark, but as the military tattoo drum beat builds to an ‘into battle’ frenzy, so her voice becomes more banshee like. NFOH, decided to start out in full battle mode and McLennan’s vocals, while a long way off Slick’s in terms of technical ability, are dripping with sneers and anger while a menacing bass circles round the enemy.

Both versions have their merits and there will be those that say Jefferson Starship’s is better, while other will go for No Friends Of Harry’s and other still, like me, who enjoy both equally. Where NFOH’s version does trump Starship’s is that it is almost 5 minutes long compared to a paltry two and a half minutes Slick & Co. Feed your head on some white rabbit, the slick, quick way or, the longer, more harried route.

Where to find it:
Vinyl: In From The Cold – Various (1988), Principal Records, PRINCE013


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