1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “The Smiths”

In Solitary Confinement – Vusi Mahlasela

When You Come Back – Vusi Mahlasela

When You Come Back – Vusi Mahlasela

For all it being called ‘In Solitary Confinement’, this is a surprisingly upbeat song which starts with some spritely guitar playing and uplifting penny whistle before Vusi’s beautiful vocals kick in. This juxtaposition of the serious nature of the lyrics and a happy tune is not uncommon in music with The Smiths’ ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’ being one that I always cite (and did so in the review of Henry Ate’s ‘Hey Mister’).

In ‘In Solitary Confinement’ Vusi was singing from personal experience having been incarcerated and put in solitary himself. If my memory serves me correctly from when I was lucky enough to see Vusi perfom live, this song was written on toilet paper while he was in prison. It is a joyous romp of a song with the pennywhistle flitting around Vusi’s tight guitar work while his voice does its magic with the lyrics, caressing the pain of the words with its beauty until the desired effect of those wanting to inflict the pain is beaten into submission.

South Africa must be one of the few places in the world where the protest songs could sound joyful and beautiful but at the same time have biting, critical words and ‘In Solitary Confinement’ is a shining example of this. So lock youself up in your room and let Vusi’s magic set you free.

Where to find it:
When You Come Back – Vusi Mahlasela (1998) Shifty/BMG,CDSHIFT50

Video:

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Wanna Make Love – Sunshines

Removable Tattoos - Sunshines

Removable Tattoos – Sunshines

The Sunshines were Tanya Blue, Greg Luke and Russel Weston and on their album ‘Removable Tattos’ from which ‘Wanna Make Love’ comes, they added the talents of Chris Letcher and Brendan Jury and had the added boost of Lloyd Ross and Willem Moller on production duties. Despite some of the Shifty characters helping out, the song is surprisingly poppy and full of, well, Sunshine.

It is in some way reminiscent of the Katrina & The Waves hit ‘Walking On Sunshine’ with its bright, breezy and bouncy feel and Tanya’s carefree vocals, but it’s a bit like an indie version of the song as it doesn’t have the final few layers of polish that a full on pop song would have and there are Smiths-eque jangling guitars underpinning the song. There is even an oblique reference to The Smiths in the lyrics with the line ‘I wanna make love/like a hand in glove’ (for those unfamiliar with The Smiths back catalogue, they released a song called ‘Hand In Glove’) although it is difficult to say if that was deliberate or not.

Those who like their pop to be pristine and sterile, you may not take too kindly to this, feeling it a bit too ‘indie’ for you, but for those who like their pop a little rough round the edges, then this is jangly pop perfection.

Where to find it:
Removable Tattoos – The Sunshines (1995)
Hear (and buy) here:
http://thesunshines.bandcamp.com/album/removable-tatoos

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