1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

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Archive for the tag “Zia”

Desperado – Zia

Kant Unjani - Zia

Kant Unjani – Zia

Sadly, this is one that, as far as I can tell, never made it onto CD or the into digital world, so you’re going to have to dust off your turntable if you want to hear it (it is so rare, it’s not even on Youtube). And more’s the pity as this is an excellent cover of The Eagles track from 1973.

Zia were fronted by Cindy Alter after she had left Clout. The band also featured Ashley Brokensha (who would be in Ballyhoo) along with Abraham Sibiya, Bheki Gumbi and Graham Clifford who would all be in Wozani (a band formed by Hotline’s George van Dyk). They released 3 albums, the second of which was ‘Kant’Unjani’ and this stripped down version of the song closes the album.

Zia’s version starts in a similar vein to The Eagles’ one, the differences being that The Eagles’ version starts off being piano led and features the gruff vocals of Don Henley while Zia use a gently plucked guitar and has Cindy belting out the lyrics with her rock, bordering on operatic soprano vocals. However, as The Eagles’ version progresses, it builds up, adding a growing orchestral sound. Zia, on the other hand, keep the track in stripped down mode and let it be a vehicle for showcasing Cindy’s voice.

The Eagles will leave you lifted and buoyant with their version while Zia leave you in a far more contemplative mood. There is space to breathe in this version, space to think and space to feel. I would be hard pressed to rate one version over the other as, apart from the fact that fanatical Eagles fans would swoop down on me and attack if I dared to say Zia’s version was better, the two acts take such ultimately different approaches to the song. So I will say that both versions are great, it will just depend on your mood at the time whether you want to listen to Don’s version of Cindy’s.

Were to find it:
Vinyl: Kant’Unjani – Zia (1987), Gallo, HUL40143

Dancing In The Moonlight – Wozani

Dancing In The Moonlight – Wozani

Dancing In The Moonlight - Wozani

Dancing In The Moonlight – Wozani

George van Dyk, the driving force behind Wozani was a one time bass player with Hotline who, strangely enough, produced an album called ‘Wozani’ in 1985. Other members of the band included ex-Zia (a band that Clout’s Cindy Alter fronted) personnel Graham Clifford, Abe Sibiya and Bheki Gumbi. Wozani’s only output was an album released in 1990 called ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ and the title track opens the album.

It is no small surprise that the song harks back to the sounds that Hotline and Zia made – danceable synthpop infused with township jive sensibilities and an obligatory blast on the sax (courtesy of Mike Faure). ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’ does not have to be taken literally. You can dance to it at any time of day or night as that is what it was made for. It bounces along, toe a-tapping and bodies a-swaying, with a joie de vivre that has party written all over it. It is not too dissimilar to Lionel Richie’s ‘Dancing On The Ceiling’ and ‘All Night Long’ except that it was plainly made in Africa and is less clinical and more earthy.

George van Dyk delivers a powerful vocal to this little known gem from a time when the country was changing and this kind of music was beginning to go out of fashion. Perhaps it was released a little too late to have made a major impact on the local charts, but anyone who enjoyed the ethnopop that was produced in South Africa in the mid-eighties should enjoy this laatlammetjie.

Where to find it:
Not available on CD, you need to look for the vinyl: Dancing In The Moonlight – Wozani (1990), RPM Records, RPM 7135 (cassette CCRPM 7135)

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