Tripping the light fantastic - Psychedelic South Africa 1968-1972
Although the South African rock movement of the late sixties and early seventies was not a major commercial success, it's participants heralded an exciting new age in South African rock and started a movement aimed at changing the musical tastes of fans in a spectacular way. Stadium concerts became the vehicle for feeding the youth with heavier rock sounds and behind studio glass were producers like Clive Calder, Billy Forrest, Graham Beggs and Selwyn Miller who acted as change agents to transform conventional pop into heavier 4 to 5 minute songs. The movement's struggle for recognition through airplay remained unanswered and only the true fans of rock knew about their existence.
Smashing instruments and 5 minute plus recordings were not everbody's cup of tea and neither did record companies go out of their way to market the rock revolution in South Africa.
Clive Calder, one of rock's premier custodians, had this to say in 1971: "Rock is the biggest thing in music today. It's the universal language of the young generation. A handful of bands produced highly creative music and young South Africa welcomed them with open arms. Gullible powers retaliated by banning or restricting their artistic influence and radio stations ignored them! But ROCK accepted them!"
Tertius Louw, June 2005
- The Whip - Suck
- Astral III - The Invaders
- The Boy And The Bee - Omega Limited
- Straight Ahead - Otis Waygood
- My Back Feels Light/What Can You Say - Abstract Truth
- The Eagle Has Landed - Dickie Loader with Freedom's Children
- You Keep Me Hanging On - The Flames
- Blurry Visions - Buzzard
- Fire - The Third Eye
- Predictions - Hawk
- Kafkasque - Freedom's Children
- Blue Machines and Dreams - Bryan Miller's Destruction
- The Mad Professor - John and Philipa Cooper
- Cathy Come Home - The Fireflies
- Morning Light - Tidal Wave
- Race With The Devil - The Bats
- Magic Dragon - The Idiots
- Birds Flying High - McCully Workshop
Abstract Truth - My Back Feels Light/What Can You Say
Album: Cool Sounds For Heads (1970)
Ken E Henson: guitar
Peter Measroch: keyboards
Sean Bergin: Sax, flute
George Wolfaardt: drums
Pastoral progressive rock from Durban's Abstract Truth. This track was recorded during the 'Silver Trees' sessions, but only appeared on the 'Cool Sounds For Heads' compilation.Both 'Silver Trees' and 'Totum' have been reissued on a single cd.
Bryan Miller's Destruction - Blue Machines And Dreams
Bryan Miller: vocals
Keith Lentin: guitar
Steve Acutt: bass
Anton Fig: drums
Sammy James: keyboards
Cape Town band Bryan Miller's Destruction combined psychedelic pop and soul on a handful of singles in the late 60's.Bryan went on to become a highly successful international music promoter and manager. Keith and Anton formed Hammak and both emigrated to the US to pursue successful careers in music
Buzzard - Blurry Visions
Errol Friedman: guitar
Ralph "Gawksy" Madeira: bass
Cedric Samson: vocals, drums
Formed after the breakup of the legendary Fireflies,Buzzard released two singles in the early 70's before splitting.This psychedelic rock singles is one of the true gems of the period.
Dickie Loader with Freedom's Children - The Eagle Has Landed
Album: A Breath Of Fresh Air (1970)
Dickie Loader: vocals
Barry Irwin: bass
Julian Laxton: guitar
Colin Pratley: drums
This unusual pairing of pop singer Dickie Loader with the psych sounds of Freedom's Children was the brainchild of Clive Calder. This space rock song pays tribute to the first moon landing which had taken place just a few months before. 'Eagle' was the name of moon landing vehicle and the lyrics even quote Neil Armstrong's immortal 'one small step…' line.
Freedom's Children – Kafkasque
Album: Battle Hymn Of The Broken-Hearted Horde (1968)
Ramsay MacKay: Bass
Julian Laxton: Guitars
Colin Pratley: Drums
Nic Martens: Keyboards
Dennis Robertson: Vocals
Stevie van Kerken: Vocals
A track from the ultra rare Freedom's Children debut album.The band had moved from covering Yardbirds and Rolling Stones songs to a whole concept album composed by genius Ramsay Mackay. Female backing vocals provided by Stevie Van Kerken who later married Robert John 'Mutt' Lange.
Hawk – Predictions
Album: Africa She Too Can Cry (original SA version) (1972)
Dave Ornellas: Vocals
Mark "Spook" Kahn: Guitar
Braam Malherbe: Drums
Les "Jet" Goode: Bass
Julian "Ipi" Laxton: Guitar
Ivor Back: Drums
Alfred "Ali" Lerfelo: African drums, vocals
Billy "Knight" Mashigo: Percussion, vocals
Audrey Motaung: Vocals, percussion
Pete Kubheka: Vocals, percussion
Left off the UK version of 'Africa She Too Can Cry',this classic afro-rock track features the extended lineup of the band that toured and recorded in the UK.
John & Philipa Cooper - The Mad Professor
Album: The Cooperville Times (1969)
John & Philippa Cooper: vocals
Julian Laxton: lead guitar
Ivor Back: drums
Werner Krupski: keyboards
Art de Villiers: acoustic guitar
Bob Hill: bass
Rory Blackwell: tambourine
Spooky psychedelic folk featuring the unmistakable guitar sounds of Julian Laxton. Very little is known about this band however their rare debut album is a collectors item worldwide.
McCully Workshop - Birds Flying High
Single b-side 1972
Mike McCully: drums, vocals
Tully McCully: vocals, bass
Bruce Gordon: guitars, percussion, vocals
Ian Smith: flute, trumpet, percussion
Recorded during the sessions for 1971's 'Genesis' prog concept album, this plaintive song featuring the flute and trumpet playing of Ian Smith, was only previously available on the b-side of the 'Rainbow Illusion' single. Interestingly the LM Radio DJ's flipped this single over and this song peaked at number 9 on the LM Radio Charts in 1972.
Omega Ltd - The Boy And The Bee
Single b-side 1970
Louis Greeff: guitar
Alan Weinberg: bass
Mike Brand: drums
Derek Gordon: keyboards, guitars, vocals
The b-side of the 'Tchaikovsky One' single featured this cover of a Gun track. Louis Greeff's guitar buzzes and zooms dramatically on this psyched-out version of Rimsky-Korsakov's 'Flight Of The Bumble-Bee'.
Otis Waygood - Straight Ahead
Album: Ten Light Claps And A Scream (1971)
Rob Zipper: vocals, guitars, saxophones
Ivor Rubenstein: vocals, percussion
Leigh Sagar: guitars, organ
Benny Miller: guitars
Alan Zipper: bass
A driving instrumental track from Otis Waygood's 3rd album, 'Ten Lights Clap And A Scream'. This is Otis in full flight and highlights the band's then increasing move away from their blues roots to a more harder rock sound.
Suck - The Whip
Album: Time To Suck (1970)
Stephen "Gil" Gilroy: guitar
Saverio "Savvy" Grande: drums
Louis "Moose" Forer: bass
Andrew Ionnides: vocals
Classic metal track from Suck's lone contribution to the history of South African rock. 'The Whip' is the only group-composed song amongst their scorching covers of the heavy hits of the time.
The Bats - Race With The Devil
Album: Turn You On (1969)
Eddie Eckstein: vocals, drums
Paul Ditchfield: vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass
Barry Jarman: guitar, trumpet, bass
Pete Clifford: vocals, guitar
If Quentin Tarantino had known about this Tex Mex-meets-Psych version of the classic Gun track he would have definitely found a place for it in one of his movies.
The Fireflies - Cathy Come Home
Errol Friedman: guitar
Ralph "Gawksy" Madeira: bass
Cedric Samson: vocals, drums
Gary Harrison: guitar
Alan Goldstein: guitar
Pop-psych sounds from Johannesburg group the Fireflies featuring a very young Cedric Samson. Errol Friedman is the brother of Rabbitt's Ronnie Robot.
The Flames - You Keep Me Hanging On
Album: Soulfire!! (1968)
Steve Fataar: guitar, vocals
Brother Fataar: bass, vocals
Baby Duval: guitar, vocals
Blondie Chaplin: guitar, vocals
Ricky Fataar: drums
Taking the Vanilla Fudge rearrangement of the Supremes hit and adding their own inimitable style, made this song a stand-out track on the brilliant 'Soulfire!!' album.
The Idiots - Magic Dragon
Single b-side 1968
Jimmy Retief: vocals
Reggie Edwards: bass guitar
Peter Hunt: organ
Jock de Coito: lead guitar
Keith Hall: drums
Psychedelic pop from the winners of the 1967 Battle Of The Bands featuring the vocal talents of the late Jimmy Retief.
The Invaders - Astral III
Album: There's A Light, There's A Way (1970)
Joey Moses: lead guitar, vocals
Errol Gobey: rhythm guitar, vocals
Johnny Burke: bass
Dave Burke: drums
Spewy Pillay: organ
Funky organ-driven rock song from Cape Town group The Invaders. Sounds like these guys had been listening to Rare Earth, and judging by the guitar solo, maybe some Hendrix as well.
Third Eye – Fire
Ronnie Selby: guitar
Maurice Saul: vocals, guitar
Dawn Selby: piano, organ
Robbie Pavid: drums
Mike Sauer: bass
A raucous brassy cover of the Arthur Brown classic. This track was later re-recorded and extended into an 8 minute, 3-part suite and released on their 3rd album 'Brother' in 1970.
Tidal Wave - Morning Light
Album: Tidal Wave (1970)
Mike Pilot: Vocals, guitar
Ken Haycock: bass
Mike Koch: drums
Aiden "Dooley" Mason: keyboards
Psychedelic sounds from a band better known for their pop hits like 'Spider Spider' and 'Mango Mango'. Mike Pilot's fuzz guitar is an absolute delight.
Pics courtesy of Cedric Samson, Robbie Pavid, Bryan Millar, Mike McCully, Fresh Music.
Digitally remastered from vinyl and original analog tapes by Tully McCully @ Spaced Out Sounds.
Licensing: Tracks 3, 7, 8, 9, 12, 16 licensed courtesy of Gallo Record Company
Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17 licensed courtesy of EMI Records; Track 18 licensed courtesy of McCully Music; Track 15 licensed courtesy of Angela Music.
Fresh Music would like to thank: Rob Allingham & Donna Peterson @ Gallo, Patrick Whelan @ EMI,Tully McCully @ Spaced Out Sounds, Terry & Carrie Dempsey @ Angela Music, Tertius Louw
Special thanks to Tertius Louw for liner notes, pics and music
Liner notes: Tertius Louw, Brian Currin & Benjy Mudie, thanks to Garth Chilvers & Tom Jasiukowicz for their research notes from the book " History of contemporary music of South Africa (Toga Publishing).
Retro reissue produced by Benjy Mudie and Brian Currin for Fresh Music.
Artwork by Rushni Nordien and Yumna Sadan.