Peter Vee has been around the South African music scene since the early 60’s. He was a member of The Invaders, The Four Dukes, Sons of She, The In Crowd, The Outlet and The Staccatos before striking out on his own and forging a successful solo career which produced 4 Springbok top 20 hits. The least successful of these 4 hits was ‘He (Can Build A Mountain)’ which spent 2 weeks at number 20.
The song appears to be a cover of one recorded by a band called Family Child who, I believe, were a German band that included as a member Bernd Vonficht who became better known in South Africa in the earlier 80’s as Bernie Paul having hits such as ‘Oh No no’ and ‘Night After Night’.
‘He (Can Build A Mountain)’ is a gospel/soul number which builds slowly on the back of a repeated refrain of lines starting with a syncopated ‘He’. The circular nature of this draws you into the song as it builds, like being slowly sucked into a whirlpool of warmth and joy. Undoubtedly it is a song of its time and fitted in well with the soul and gospel tinged sounds that were popular at the time (think Alan Garrity’s ‘Put Your Hand In The Hand’ and the earlier hit, Edwin Hawkins Singers ‘Oh Happy Day’).
There is not much to choose between Peter Vee’s version and that of Family Child as they are quite similar, but, of course, we would have known Peter’s version on our radios. There is also a cover by Joanna Field and Billy Forrest which one can find of Youtube. This sounds more like a more recent version (possibly early to mid 80’s) and is a little more like a church band version rather than the gospel choir-y versions from Peter and Family Child.
Of course you can choose which one you prefer, but as a clue to which one is my favourite, I can give you a hint – the Joanna Field and Billy Forrest version will not appear on this list. The title of the song says ‘He (Can Build A Mountain)’ but one could say of Peter Vee that ‘He (can Build A Good Song)’.
Where to find it:
Vinyl: The Tips Of My Fingers (1973), MFP, MFP54633