1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Wildebeest”

Bossies – Wilderbeest

Bushrock 1 - Wildebeest

Bushrock 1 – Wildebeest

For those of you who don’t know, ‘bossies’ is an expression which originated in the army where young South African men had to do compulsory service. It means to lose the plot and go crazy. It would have referred to a state of mind many experienced spending time in the bush (‘bos’ in Afrikaans) where things were a long way removed from one’s usual comfortable white suburban life.

It is therefore no surprise that the song ‘Bossies’ starts off with an army corporal shouting at the manne (men) and the song sings about it being another day in the army with a chanted chorus of ‘ons is almal bossies’ (we are all crazy). It is a fast-paced track that doesn’t sound a million miles from some of the early Dog Detachment songs. One could argue that this was the first Afrikaans punk song as it came out in the early 80’s long before Fokofpolsiekar and the like.

While this is ostensibly just a descriptive song about the state of mind many young men had when doing their army service, there is an undercurrent of venom in the delivery which makes it feel like a protest song and it would have sat well on the End Conscription Campaign’s ‘Forces Favourites’ album. The track motors along in a slightly crazed way, imitating the emotions many would have felt in the army.

Wildebeest featured Jack Hammer’s Piet Botha and Freedom Children’s Colin Pratley along with Boet Farber, Karlien van Niekerk and Dave Tarr. Together the band created a rough and ready masterpiece in the album ‘Bushrock 1 (‘Tribal Fence’ and ‘Russian And Chips’ from the album have already featured on this list). ‘Bossies’ is another great rrack from a great album. Check it out and go crazy to the tune.

Where to find it:
Bushrock 1 – Wildebeest (1981 – reissued in 2010), Fresh Music, freshcd171

Video:

Russian And Chips – Wilderbeest

Bushrock 1 - Wildebeest

Bushrock 1 – Wildebeest

Very few people who are not South African would understand one going into a take-away joint and ordering a Russian and chips. Most people check you out skeef if you happen to mention Russian and chips in conversation. They wonder why you would wish to eat a person from a large east European country along with sliced and fried potatoes. You would confuse them even more if you asked for slap chips.

However, most South Africans will know that a Russian and chips is a chorizo like sausage with chips and that most take-away joints in the country offer this delicacy. But why would anybody sing about this. Is it some form of alternative to ‘popcorn, chewing gum etc’? Perhaps it is a pean to ‘Russian, chips and toasted bacon and banana’ (the latter being another particularly South African thing). But no. When you put it on and listen to it, you may find the lyrics somewhat familiar as the first line goes ‘The Kid He Came from Nazareth’. And yes, it is a cover of the Freedom’s Children classic, ‘The Kid He Came From Hazareth’ and maybe the reason Freedom’s chose to use ‘Hazareth’ instead of ‘Nazareth’ also prompted Wildebeest to change the song’s title as the kid from Nazareth would have been a reference to Jesus and you could not have that in a rock song back then.

Not only did the ‘Beests change the title but they also gave the song a completely different sound. Where Freedom’s Children had a dense brooding rock sound of doom to their version, Wildebeest turn it into a kind of Irish jig that had been listening to too much folk rock as there is a persistent drum throughout that sounds akin to the Irish bodhran. This is accompanied by a violin (courtesy of Dave Tarr) which sound like it has been through an electric shredder and Karlien van Niekerk’s pure vocals which have that Irish lass quality.

Despite all this Irish-ness I have spoken about, one can hear the kind of Cossack-y sound coming through that perhaps gave the song its new title. This was a great cover of a great original. It is the old classic with a new recipe.

Where to find it:
Bushrock 1 – Wildebeest (1981 – reissued in 2010), Fresh Music, freshcd171

Video:

Tribal Fence – Wildebeest

Bushrock 1 - Wildebeest

Bushrock 1 – Wildebeest

Whatever happened to Bushrock 2. Wildebeest migrated into our world in 1981 and made an album called ‘Bushrock 1’ and then the herd scattered before they could do ‘Bushrock 2’. Presumably when they put the ‘1’ behind the name of the album, there were plans for a follow up. However, we have to live with the fact there was only 1 Bushrock by this group of musicians although the alert among you may point to Anton Goosen’s 1996 album which also went under the title ‘Bushrock’ as perhaps a son of Bushrock 1.

Recorded live, the album opens with this cover of the Freedom Children’s classic, ‘Tribal Fence’ and given that former child of Freedom, Colin Pratley was on the drums, it’s not too surprising. However, instead of the growling vocals of Brian Davidson that the Freedom’s version had, we are treated to some swirling Kate Bush-esque vocals from Karlien van Niekerk, giving the previously testosterone fuelled song, a femine touch. But its not a pot-pourri, floral dress feminine touch, this is a haunting, witchy feminine.

And while the ‘Beests keep true to the heavy rock of the original, there is a more contemplative feel to this version. They have not made the sound as dense as what Freedom’s Children made it, which frees the song up a little to make it more accessable to those who were not keen on total onslaught rock. This version is clearly moulded on the original, but with the female vocals and the slightly reduced sound, it makes for an intruiging and highly listenable-to cover which, in case you didn’t know, features Piet Botha on bass.

Where to find it:
Bushrock 1 – Wildebeest (1981 – reissued in 2010), Fresh Music, freshcd171

Video:

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