1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Robin Auld”

Baby You’ve Been Good – Robin Auld

Baby You've Been Good - Robin Auld

Baby You’ve Been Good – Robin Auld

Before his baby was good to him, Robin Auld released an album called ‘At The Corner’ in 1984 which contained the single ‘First And Last’. Well thankfully this was not the last we heard from the Kommetjie Kid as it was with his follow up album and single that Auld came to the attention of the country. The album was ‘Z-Astaire’ and the single was ‘Baby You’ve Been Good To Me.’ He suddenly found himself with a number 25 hit on both the Springbok and Capital 604 charts as well as a number 8 hit on the Radio 5 charts.

‘Baby You’ve Been Good To Me’, in a way, defined Auld’s style. It is a laid back rock track. There are hints of Dire Straits in there with some neat guitar playing and the song seems to drift along on a wave of good feeling. This is complimented by Auld’s distinctive voice which is both rough and smooth at the same time. There is a kind of gravelly sound in there, but the overall effect is of a relaxing smoothness.

And the lyrics drift along with the song. The line‘Baby you’ve been good to me/There is still so much that we can see/doesn’t matter if we’re looking through a cloud’ conjures up images of floating along on a cloud watching the world go by, feeling relaxed in the warmth of the love of his baby.

Auld went on to produce further South African gems, but this, for many, would have been their introduction to one of our most talented singer/songwriters. His ‘baby’ was good to him as it launched a career that has continued for a number of decades now and is still going.

Where to find it:
The Best Of Robin Auld Vol 1 – Robin Auld (1999) TicTicBang, BANGCD888


3 Force Blues – The Lurchers

Sunny Skies – The Lurchers

Sometimes the clue to what a song will sound like is in the title and with the word ‘blues’ sitting at the end of the title of ‘3 Force Blues’ you have a pretty good idea of what sort of song you’re dealing with. The Lurchers, fronted by that giant of SA music, James Phillips, brought a fuller and more polished sound to Phillips’ songs on their album ‘Sunny Skies’. His earlier stuff with Corporal Punishment, Illegal Gathering and The Cherry Faced Lurchers has a rough, unpolished sound that suited the rough unpolished times we were living in back then, but in 1994 when Phillips put together The Lurchers, which featured Willem Möller on guitar, Lee Edwards on bass, Lloyd Martino on drums and Paul Hamner on piano, the sound seemed to get that little bit more sophisticated.

There is no more of the wild youth inexperience and learning going into the music, here is a man and a band who had matured and knew what they were doing. And ‘3 Force Blues’ would, I am sure, have had some influence on the bright eyed youngsters who were about to launch the blues explosion that happened in Stellenbosh in the late 90’s early 00’s.

Edwards’ bass and Möller’s guitar prowl around the song together, as if eyeing out this gravelling voiced singer, stalking him, watching his every move so that they can adapt and change as they need to  and they do this expertly. While Phillips is aware of those around him, but one can almost see the twinkle in his eye as he tries to weave and bob, challenging them to keep up. It’s a kind of sparring match, tight and tense to those watching closely, but on the face of it, relaxed and confident.

As we moved on from apartheid, Phillips looks forward to the Sunny Skies that he hoped for, but there was still a lot going on to be concerned and angry about. Sadly, about a year after its release, James would die in that carsh crash so he never really got to experience the new South Africa. But his music lives on and will continue to stand as a reminder of where we came from. Based on the Beaufort Scale, a Force 3 wind is a gentle breeze and often after a Force 11 (violent storm) the wind then subsides to Force 3 as nature gets back to normal. ‘3 Force Blues’ is a bit like the Force 3 breeze after the storm. It’s not becalming, there is still movement and disruption which one can enjoy. You can also check out the Robin Auld acoustic cover which, with his gravelly vocals, is just as compelling as the original.

Where to find it:
The Lurchers – Sunny Skies (1994), Shifty Records


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Zen Surfing In The 3rd World – Robin Auld

Zen Surfing In The 3rd World – Robin Auld

Zen Surfing In The 3rd World – Robin Auld

After his 1991 album ‘Love Kills’, Robin Auld moved across to the innovative and essential Shifty Records label, a label known for its political and renegade attitude. With Lloyd Ross on the production desk, Auld recorded and released his 5th album ‘Zen Surfing In The Third World’. Those who may have been worried about Auld changing record labels, expecting a totally different sound and style would have been put at ease almost from the first note of the title track which opens the album as within a few beats there is that jaunty jangling guitar sound fans would have known and love.

They would have been further put at ease when a few second later Robin’s distinctive vocals come through like a gentle wave singing ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday/anywhere where the sky is blue’. And that’s the Robin we know and love. When you put this track on, the sun shines, the surf is perfect, and you feel your spirit lift. And there doesn’t appear to be a heavy political message that was an integral part of the Shifty ethos. But then this was 1993. Things were changing in the country and there was a lot of optimism and worry sloshing around as we transitioned.

‘Zen Surfing In The Third World’ was a great anthem for the time. It is soaked in positive vibes, rejoicing in the changes and looking forward to better times, but also acknowledges the past and high level of emigration, especially in the lines ‘Do you maybe want to sing a freedom song/it don’t matter where you stay/the world gets smaller every single day’. But he goes on to add later in the song ‘There’s no battle to fight now baby’.

According to Wikipedia, ‘Zen’ emphasises rigorous self-restraint, meditation-practice, insight into the nature of mind and nature of things’ and on ‘Zen Surfing In The Third World’ Robin perhaps doesn’t do too much rigorous self restraint (he’s too busy being happy) but he does sort of meditate on what has just transpired. The song is a study on the nature of mind and nature of things, but it is also a thing of the mind and a thing of nature as he conjures up sunny skies and white beaches. So grab your cozzie and board, surf’s up!

Where to find it:
The Best of Vol 1 – Robin Auld (1999), TicTicBang, BANGCD888
Zen Surfing In The Thrid World – Robin Auld, Shifty Records (1993), CDSHIFT (WL) 53


All Of Woman – Robin Auld

All Of Woman – Robin Auld

All Of Woman – Robin Auld

In December 1984, Robin Auld saw his first Radio 5 hit in the form of ‘Baby You’ve Been Good To Me’ which got to number 8 on those charts and, while a pleasant and popular song, it did come across a bit as one by someone still learning their trade. Roll on about 8 months and Auld came along with a stronger offering in the form of ‘All Of Woman’ and this improvement was rewarded as he topped the Radio 5 charts with it.

Like its predecessor, ‘All Of Woman’ is a laid back love song which starts with a gentle beat and synthesized orchestral sounds. These are joined by sort of xylophony ‘plink plonks’ (sorry don’t know how else to describe them) before Robin comes along with his gentle vocals declaring that his love is ‘All of woman/to me’. But listening to the rest of the lyrics, the song is like a bunch of flowers sent in order to make up as the singer confesses ‘I know I’ve made you sad/I admit that I’ve been bad’.

We all like a break up/make up story in films and songs but here we are not told if the ‘make up’ happens, but are rather left to decide if the song itself is strong enough to garner the forgiveness that is being sought. Well those jocks on Radio 5 certainly though Robin had done enough as they propelled him to the top of their charts and its not difficult to see why they thought so. Check out the acoustic recording Robin did of the song in 2015 (see link below) and I think you will agree that Robin created a timeless classic with this one.

Where to find it:
The Best of Vol 1 – Robin Auld (1999), TicTicBang, BANGCD888


Acoustic version video:

Which Way To Go – Robin Auld

Iron In The Sky - Robin Auld

Iron In The Sky – Robin Auld

If one were to talk of two guitars making beautiful music in a South African context the most obvious thought would be of Steve Newman and Tony Cox. But wait, here we have 2 guitars making beautiful music and there is singing on top of it! But hey, Cox & Newman can’t be expected to produce every single 2 guitared piece in South Africa.

So who are these guitar players and who is doing the singing. Well, as the title of this entry in the list will tell you, one is Robin Auld who one presumes is doing the acoustic strumming and the main vocals are immediately recognisable as his husky laid-back ones. But there is a decidedly South African electric guitar dancing around Auld’s acoustic and this is supplied by one Louis Mahlanga who is a well known name in South African music circles.

There is such a great synergy between the two guitars as they both trying to out joie de vivre each other, that they are sensibly given almost a minute and a half for an instrumental break. It’s infectious music that makes you glad to be alive. Poignantly, the song was co-written by Auld and James Phillips and the version on ‘Iron In The Sky’ was recorded live in Grahamstown. Phillips was killed in a car cash going to perform at the festival and this song is a hugely suitable tribute to him, not only because of its life-affirming beauty, but the synergy of the ‘white’ acoustic sound with the ‘black’ electric guitar to create a rainbow nation song would have pleased James.

Where to find it:
Iron In The Sky – Robin Auld, November 2000, (CDVM27)


Drunken Girl – Robin Auld

Drunken Girl – Robin Auld

Robin Auld - Africana

Robin Auld – Africana

There is something about surfing that generally leads to great, feel
good music. The Beach Boys (although only one of them actually surfed)
were amongst the best exponents of this. In more modern times, Jack
Johnson took a more laid back approach to this kind of music. In South
Africa, we have, for a good few decades now, been privy to the laid
back ‘surfer’ music of Robin Auld.

‘Drunken Girl’ is another slice of perfect laidback pop from our
little maestro. It has Auld’s trademark mellow vocals surfing nicely
upon a groove wave of guitar and rhythm, taking you on a great ride.
But scratch the surface of this song a little and you’ll realise that
‘Drunken Girl’ is not as easy as the title suggests. The lyrics are
thoughtful and somewhat sad. This was always a trademark of Auld. The
sounds might seem carefree, but there was always a serious side to his
lyrics and this combination is what has given his work its longevity.

Where to find it:
Africana, Free Lunch Productions (2010)


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