1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Tchaikovsky One – Omega Limited

Tchaikovsky One – Omega Limited

Tchaikovsky One – Omega Limited

My father was not big into popular music. I think that the only pop album he ever bought was The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’. He did however also splash out on an imported version of Deep Purple’s ‘Concert For Group & Orchestra’ which teamed the hard rocking Deep Purple with the classical sound of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Somewhere inbetween this was one of those cheapo MFP albums called ‘Classics With A Beat’ which did exactly what it said on the tin. It took popular classical music and put a beat to it.

This mixing of classical and rock was pretty prominent back in the late 60’s and early 70s with songs like Miguel Rios’ take on Beethoven’s ‘Song Of Joy’ making the Springbok charts in July of 1970. But earlier that year (in the April to be a bit more precise), we took Omega Limited’s dense rock take on Tchaikivsky’s Piano Concerto Number 1 to heart and propelled it to number 3 on the Springbok Top 20. Instead of a piano, the band (who hailed from Cape Town) used guitars, one for the more bassy tune while a more jangly one flits round it.

The result is a brilliant, rocking, slightly psychedelic piece of music that even your parents would recognise and maybe, just maybe, you could have got away with saying, ‘Look mom, dad, I’m listening to classical music’ and they couldn’t really argue…although they probably would have anyway. But for a short while in recent musical history, classical was cool, as long as we didn’t worry about all that orchestra stuff and let the guitarists get on and rock those tunes for us.

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

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The Boy And The Bee – Omega Limited

The Boy And The Bee – Omega Limited

Astral Daze - Psychedelic South African Rock 1968-1972

Astral Daze – Psychedelic South African Rock 1968-1972

The Boy And The Bee

Omega Limited – The Boy And The Bee

Sometimes, but not very often, the b-side of a single (or a Bee Side in this case) can garner as much, if not more, interest than the A-side. One wonders just how many record companies have cursed using such a strong song for ‘filler’ when they could have released it as a separate single and doubled their profits. Way back in 1970, the powers that be at Polydor records in South Africa must have been having these thoughts.

They had bunged ‘The Boy And The Bee’ on the b-side of ‘Tchaikovsky 1’. The single sold well, getting to number 3 on the SA Top 20. But some people took to enjoying ‘The Boy And The Bee’ as much as they did Tchaikovsky. And it’s not surprising when one listens to this dense slice of power rock with a strong vocal performance and blistering guitars, culminating in a brilliant rendition of the Flight Of The Bumble Bee performed on guitar. The song should have been a hit in its own right.

Fortunately, those guys at Retrofresh remembered this and included it on the first in the all-important ‘Astral Daze’ series of CDs that has been mining the rich vein of ‘lost’ SA rock.

Where to find it:
Astral Daze – Various Artists, RetroFresh, (2005), FRESHCD148

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