1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Shadows – Wonderboom

Wonderboom

Wonderboom

When you take on a classic, you often take a huge risk. ‘It’s not as good as the original’ or even, ‘why don’t they just leave the old songs alone, you can’t make it better’ will often be thrown at you, invariably by the older generation who grew up with the original. And I must admit, I am like that sometimes with cover versions or remakes of films that I grew up liking.

However, with Wonderboom’s take on arguably the best South African track of the 80s, I am quite content to sit back and enjoy one of my favourites being given a update, and I did my growing up in the 80s. Wonderboom are one of a handful of South African acts who could have pulled this off in this style, injecting the the old ‘bundu bush’ ethno-punk original with a hard edged rock swagger and the result is an in-yer-face, wall-of-sound song that retains the feel and tune of the original, but has dragged it through the bush backwards into the naughties.

It is a much more straight forward cover than their take on Rabbitt’s ‘Charlie’ where they took that one and turned it into a heavy kwaito track and I would have to say it is not as good as the original (because I am old), but it certainly shows respect to the éVoid version and as one who grew up with the original, you can’t ask for more than that. Like nearly every cover of a classic, this will live in the, erm, shadow of the original, but it is not so pale that you can hardly make out the details shadow. It is a clear, well-defined one created by a sharp African sun, it is one that demands to be noticed.

Where to find it:
Rewind – Wonderboom (2001), David Gresham Records, CDDGR 1533

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Audio:

Santana Sessions:

Taximan – éVoid

Taximan - éVoid

Taximan – éVoid

The main force behind éVoid were the Windrich brothers Erik and Lucien. And behind the massive hit ‘Shadows’ there was the little brother ‘Taximan’ a song which has had to live in the, erm, shadow of it’s big brother all these years. Had they not written ‘Shadows’ éVoid would have always been remember as the band that brought you ‘Taximan’.  There may be some out there who prefer this younger brother to the older statesman hit and that is perfectly acceptable because, well, ‘Taximan’ is such a brilliant song in its own right.

The song itself is a bit like a taxi ploughing its trade between Soweto and Jozi. It’s overloaded with great ideas, it doesn’t obey the usual rules but choses to plough its own furrow, there is a great dance beat booming away, someone is leaning out the song shouting ‘heya!heya!’ and then it comes to an abrupt stop without much warning.

‘Taximan’did not fare (no, not what you pay for the ride) quite as well as ‘Shadows’ but reached a respectable 6 on the Springbok Charts in comparison to the latter’s 3. That said, it did manage number 3 on the Radio 5 charts where ‘Shadows’ stalled at 4. One can just imagine the sibling rivalry that went on in the LP sleeve way back when. Both songs have grown up and matured, yet both sound as vibrant and youthful as they did in 1983/4. So come out of the shadows for a bit, head out on that highway and head into town with the most loveable ‘Taximan’ in South African musical history (with Karen Zoid’s ‘Taxi’ coming a close second).

Where to find it:
éVoid (2000), RetroFresh, freshcd 106
SA Top 40 Hits of All Time – Various Artists (2001), Sting Music, STIDFCD037

Video:

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