1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “The Road Is Much Longer”

Lungile Tabalaza – Roger Lucey

Roger Lucey

Roger Lucey

Lungile Tabalaza was a man arrested during the apartheid years and died while in police custody, ostensible committing suicide by jumping out of a fifth floor window. One man who was angry about this was Roger Lucey and when you hear his song about the incident, you can feel the emotion in his voice. There is an abrasive bass, an edgy beat and a wailing woman’s voice that mixes grief with pain.

Despite not actually accusing the police of killing Tabalza, the lyrics between the sung lines are fairly obvious what Lucey thinks happened. He sings “Well whatever happened in that office only God and the cops will only know” and “well some say it was murder and some say suicide, but this is not the first time that men have gone in there and died” which nakedly reveal what Lucey’s views on the event were.

Included on his ‘The Road Is Much Longer’ album, it was just one of 11 reasons why the album was banned (the other 10 reasons being the 10 other tracks). In a post apartheid 2000, the song resurfaced on ’21 Years Down The Road’ and it serves as one of many politically charged songs from the era when they were usually banned. It is a bit of a history lesson, giving us an insight into things that often didn’t make our television news broadcasts.

Where to find it:
21 Years Down The Road – Roger Lucey (2000), 3rd Ear Music

Video:

Lungile Tabalaza
http://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/magistrate-la-coetzee-rules-no-one-blame-prison-death-lungile-tabalaza

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Spaces Tell Stories – Roger Lucey

21 Years Down The Road - Roger Lucey

21 Years Down The Road – Roger Lucey

Here’s a political one from Roger Lucey. That’s a bit like saying here’s a heavy one from Deep Purple. Lucey virtually exclusively did political songs, and he was one of our best at doing so. But back in the day, you weren’t allowed to hear political, so most of his stuff was only heard by a limited few (his seminal album ‘The Road Is Much Longer’ was banned outright).
‘Spaces Tell Stories’ is about the censorship of the press during the State of Emergency in the 80’s in South Africa. Newspapers like the Weekly Mail had large chunks of their stories blacked out, so we couldn’t be told what was happening in the country. But, as Roger observed, you didn’t need to read the stories to know what was going on. As the opening line of the song says, ‘Spaces tell stories/and details aren’t needed/you hear things you don’t want to know’.
‘Spaces Tell Stories’ could almost be classified as punk as it is a brief 2 minute 37 second angry rant at the establishment, but where it falls down on the punk front is that the instrumentation is far more refined and melodic than some of the thrashy sound your usual punks make. Instead, the anger manifests itself as it builds to a ragged military beat that goes to war against the subject matter, somewhat akin to John Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero’ where the music spits out the message with as much venom as the words do.
South Africa is a lot further down the road from where it was when Lucey recorded this song, but it still stands as a milestone on that journey we took, a stark reminder of where we have been.

Where to find it:
21 Years Down The Road – Roger Lucey (2000), 3rd Ear Music

Video:

Hear here:

http://rogerlucey.bandcamp.com/album/21-years-down-the-road

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