Slowly…from the South – a compendium of South African progressive rock
Prog is a four letter word..right? So is 'rock', 'jazz' and 'folk' , these genres combined with classical and blues, are the foundation stones of what music scribes like to call 'progressive music' or 'prog' . From rock's emergence in the 60's as a cultural force to be reckoned with , there have been artists and groups that have sought to push the boundaries of music, to step outside the box and blaze new musical frontiers without a nod to the crass pop commercialism of the 'industry'. Far from the acid drenched musical meanderings of the mid to late 60's San Franciscan psychedelic rock experience, musicians globally, and in particular in the prog crucible of the United Kingdom, were creating challenging new music . Experimenting with abstract time signatures, unpredictable chord changes and incorporating influences from around the globe including Indian, Celtic, Arabic and African sounds, a new, thought provoking genre was born. In the UK, bands like Yes, Gentle Giant, Jade Warrior, Gravy Train, Audience and the like influenced hordes of emerging bands across the world.
In the early 70's South Africa was in it's third decade of self inflicted political and cultural isolation. Despite a concerted effort by the then Nationalist government to 'protect the youth' by blocking the flow of progressive cultural ideas via a series of bannings,restrictions and high import tariffs, rock music per se, and all it represented, managed to reach these Southern shores and inseminate a flowering home grown rock revolution….Although some groups simply emulated the sounds of their international counterparts, some South African bands embraced their African roots, drawing on home grown melodic and rhythmic structures, meshing them with European influences and producing a heady variant of progressive music that fits snugly alongside their international compatriots.
“Slowly …from the South” showcases the cream of South African prog rock of the last 40 years .Tucked inside you will hear the music of some of South Africa's heavyweight musical sons & daughters, some familiar and others only recognised in name but never heard outside these southern shores, until now. Although it documents predominantly the 70's and 80's it also includes several current artists who are blazing new frontiers in progressive music.
“Slowly….” is the culmination of close to two years of research and planning, tracking down long lost masters, photos and information, at times akin to a Sherlock Holmes investigation..The concept credit really belongs to Tertius Louw, who is rightly regarded worldwide as the 'Rosetta Stone' of South African popular music. Without his knowledge, extensive music and pictorial database this release would not have seen the light of day….Benjy Mudie March 2009
“This double cd compilation is unique in it's kind. It is the first indigenous compilation set that showcases the cream of South African musicians who explored both jazz and prog rock genres during the seventies and beyond. A number of the artists also enjoyed international presence with their musical output and the tracks appearing on this cd were taken from sought-after albums that are fetching exorbitant prices on E-Bay these days”. –Tertius Louw
Special thanks to Tertius Louw and Brian Currin who have been of tremendous assistance on the project. Of course the real thanks goes to the many artists and groups whose music is permanently etched in these discs .Additional thanks to : Leon Economides, Rob Allingham, Veronica Adamou, David Masters ,Patric van Blerk, Ankha, Mel Botes, Piet Botha, Duncan Mackay, Tully McCully, Rob Cowling, Neill Solomon, Terry Dempsey, Peter Cooke, Paul Ditchfield, Peter Hanmer, Warrick Sony, David Masters, Steve Linnegar.
Mastered by Gary Crause @ Legend Studios.
Photos: The Retro Archive, Tertius Louw, Paul Ditchfield, Peter Hanmer, Duncan Mackay, Warrick Sony, Ankha , David Masters , Brian Currin ,Piet Botha, Mel Botes.
Project managed by Benjy Mudie for Retro;
Many of the artist's albums featured on this compilation can be purchased online at www.freshmusic.co.za
(p) & © Fresh Music South Africa 2007
Fresh Music email: firstname.lastname@example.org /PO Box 782022 Sandton 2146 South Africa
Duncan Mackay's Chimera – Morpheus (edit) (1974)
With it's intricate time signatures and virtuoso performance Duncan Mackay's 'Chimera', recorded in 1973/4, is a brilliant slice of 70s keyboard-based progressive rock that rivals that of Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson and Patrick Moraz.
From the album “Chimera” ; Written and produced by Duncan Mackay, published by Duncan Mackay. Licensed courtesy of Duncan Mackay.
Musicians : Duncan Mackay-vocals, piano, Hammond B3 organ, Denon electric piano, clavichord, ARP synthesizer.
Gordon Mackay-violin, electric piano, piano
Abstract Truth – Original man (1970)
Fusing elements of folk, jazz, rock and African influences into a new progressive vein Durban's Abstract Truth recorded two landmark albums in the early 70's . The flute driven “Original man” finds the experimental quartet in a more pastoral space.
From the album “Silver Trees” ; Written by George Wolfaardt, produced by Clive Calder, published by Ardmore and Beechwood (EMI).Licensed courtesy of EMI Music.
Musicians : Ken.E.Henson-guitar, vocals
Peter Measroch-piano, organ, flute, harpsichord, vocals
Sean Bergin-sax, flute
George Wolfaardt-bass, drums, flute, vocals
Hawk-Slowly towards the North (suite) (1974)
Like a storm sweeping majestically across the musical landscape of Africa Hawk were the first band to successfully fuse African rhythms with powerful rock and dynamic live theatrical shows. This lengthy epic taken from the band's final album, was written by Freedoms Children founder Ramsay Mackay.
- Bring out the wagons
- Thaba Boshigo
- Deepest darkest Africa
- Jungle slumbers
From the album “Live and Well”; written by Ramsay Mackay, produced by Geoff Lonstein published by Ardmore and Beechwood (EMI).Licensed courtesy of EMI Music.
Musicans : Dave Ornellas-vocals, acoustic guitars, percussion
Mark 'Spook' Kahn-guitars
Julian 'Ipi' Laxton-guitars
Les 'Jet' Goode-bass
Braam Malherbe-drums & percussion
Julian Bahula-African drums, vocals
Billy 'Knight' Mashigo- vocals, percussion
Pete Khubeka- vocals, percussion
Canamii-Come and fly (1980)
Canamii was the brainchild of producer/musician Phillip Nel, originally released in 1980, the band's sole outing, “Concept” , is a rich symphonic prog rock album highly prized by collectors worldwide. “Come and fly” is musical proof of why the album was hailed by critics as being on a par with Renaissance and Curved Air.
From the album “Concept” .Written and produced by Phillip Nel, published by EMI Music. Licensed courtesy of Ankha.
Musicians : Philip Nel-keyboards
Impi –Sun (1971)
Impi was an off shoot of The Bats, one of South Africa's most successful and
enduring pop/rock bands. Drawing on their African roots the band released one album under the Impi moniker. Propelled by thundering African drumming and bass with ethnic pennywhistle melodies “Sun” is infectious prog at it's best.
From the album “Impi”.; written by Ditchfield/Jarman/Clifford/
Eckstein; published by April Music Ltd. Licensed courtesy of Gallo Music
Musicians : Paul Ditchfeld –bass, keyboards
Pete Clifford - guitars
Barry Jarman – guitar, brass
Eddie Eckstein – drums & percussion
The Kalahari Surfers –Grensvegter (1985)
Throughout their lengthy career The Kalahari Surfers were a thorn in the flesh of the apartheid government with their confrontational musical observations of life in South Africa. Nearly every record the band released was banned by the authorities . “Grensvegter” (border fighter) marries fearless social commentary with off beat rhythms and atonal melodies not unlike prog icons Gentle Giant.
From the album “Living in the heart of the beast”. Written and produced by Warrick Sony, published by Free State Music Publishing; licensed courtesy of Warrick Sony.
Musicians : Warrick Sony –guitars, keyboards, samples, vocals
Rick van Heerden-alto sax solo
McCully Workshop -Stone man (1971)
South African rock legends McCully Workshop have been in existence since the mid 60's and are still playing and recording today. Taken from their milestone “Genesis” album this track found the band dabbling in a musical concept based on the self named book of the Bible.
From the album “Genesis”. Written and produced by Tully McCully ; published by McCully Music. Licensed courtesy of Tully McCully.
Musicians : Tully McCully-lead vocals, bass
Bruce Gordon-guitars, percussion, vocals
Ian Smith-trumpet, flute, flugelhorn, trombone, percussion
Mike McCully-drums, percussion, vocals
The Square Set-Boys & girls together (1972)
Originally a pop band The Square Set mutated into a fine prog-jazz rock band in the early 70's with the addition of virtuoso bassist/producer Johnny Boshoff and drummer extraordinaire Tony Moore .Their fiery cover of the Ides of March tune highlights the soulful vocals of Neville Whitmill.
From the album “Those many feelings” .Written by Jim Peterik, published by Bald Medusa Music; produced by John Boshoff; Licensed courtesy Gallo Music.
Musicians : Neville Whitmill-vocals
Nol Klinkhamer-organ, piano
The Tidal Wave-Get it out of your system (1970)
Towards the end of their career The Tidal Wave moved away from their pop roots and ventured into the realms of progressive pop with this loping psych groove.
From the album “Spider Spider-The Best of…”.Written by Aidan Mason; published by Angela Music ;produced by Terry Dempsey;Licensed courtesy of Terry Dempsey.
Musicians: Mike Pilot-guitars, vocals
The Invaders-Ocean of peace (1970)
Originally from the Eastern Cape region of South Africa The Invaders were a tight combo who primarily played in the pop and dance style of the mid 60's.However with the advent of the 'underground' wave sweeping the globe they changed direction embracing a more progressive soul orientated rock sound.
From the album “There's a light,there's a way” .Written by The Invaders; published by Laetrec; produced by Werner Krupski .Licensed courtesy of Gallo Music.
Lionel Petersen – vocals
Joey Moses-lead guitar, vocals
Mix together incredible acoustic and electric guitars with a dash of keyboards; combine the music of Camel (Snow Goose era) with the vocals of America and early Pink Floyd and you get some idea of Steve Linnegar's Snakeshed.
From the album “Classic Epics” .Written by Steve Linnegar & Martin Kopelowitz ; published by Copyright Control ;produced by Peter Hubner & Steve Linnegar. Licensed courtesy of Obscure Oxide/ Anathema
Musicians : Steve Linnegar-vocals,guitars
Martin Kopelowitz-guitars, vocals
Ashley Kelly/Les Goode-bass
Shaun Wright/Cedric Sampson-drums
Assagai –Telephone girl (1971)
Formed in the UK in 1971 by South African exiled jazzers, the band recorded two albums of furious Afro jazz rock typified by this version of stablemates Jade Warrior's “Telephone girl”.Originally released on Vertigo Records in 1971.
From the album “Assegai” ; Written by Duhig/Havard/Field ;published by Mother Mistro Music (ASCAP) ;produced by Dave Watson. Licensed by Gallo Music.
Musicians : Dudu Pukwana –alto sax, vocals
Fred Coker-guitar, vocals
Bizo Muggikana-tenor sax
The Third Eye –Awakening (1969)
Durban's The Third Eye were perhaps best known for their rousing brassy version of Arthur Brown's “Fire”. However their albums were earmarked by long prog epics dominated by Hammond organ and electric guitar workouts.
From the album “Searching”, written by M Saul, published by Belinda Pty Ltd,
produced by Billy Forrest . Licensed courtesy of Gallo Music.
Musicians : Maurice Saul-guitar,vocals
Dawn Selby-organ, piano
Freedom's Children –About the Dove and his King (1971)
Hailed by classic rock aficionados worldwide as one of the greatest rock bands of the psych era, Freedoms Children were nonetheless capable of writing and performing more gentler music as evidenced by this composition, scored and arranged by bassist Barry Irwin.
From the album “Galactic Vibes”. written by Barry Irwin, published by Ardmore & Beechwood; produced by Clive Calder & Julian Laxton .Licensed courtesy of EMI Music.
Musicians : Brian Davidson-voices
Julian Laxton-guitars, electronics
Colin Pratley-drums & percussion
Wildebeest-Hottentotsgod ( 1981)
Wildebeest's sole thundering, stampeding album has been best described as 'progressive jungle rock' by critics and listening to this live track it's an apt description . Featuring pounding African drums, frenetically wild violin and searing guitar this traditional African song takes on a whole new meaning.
From the album “Bushrock 1” . Traditional song arranged and produced by Wildebeest; publishing Copyright Control ; Licensed courtesy of Piet Botha.
Musicians : Piet Botha-bass, harmonica
Colin Pratley-African drums, vocals
Boet Farber-guitar, vocals
Dave Tarr-violin, vocals
Karlien van Niekerk-vocals
Otis Waygood – In the sun (1971)
By the time their second album was released Otis Waygood had made the transition from hardcore blues-ers to funky prog rockers .This lengthy workout features some ethereal flute and guitar interplay resting on a typical Otis funky groove.
From the album “Simply” .Written by Rob Zipper & Leigh Sagar ;published by Ardmore & Beechwood ; produced by Clive Calder & Julian Laxton; Licensed courtesy of EMI Music.
Musicians : Rob Zipper-vocals, sax & harmonica
Evoid-Urban warrior (1982)
In 1982/83 there was no South African rock band anywhere near Evoid in terms of popularity. Their debut album, featuring a heady brew of urban rock, pop sensibility, electronics and African township rhythms spawned the term 'ethnotronics'. This track written about the hardships encountered by migrant mine workers is compelling stuff that wouldn’t be out of place on a Floyd album.
From the album “Evoid” . Written and produced by Erik & Lucien Windrich,published by Tan Music, licensed courtesy of Sheer Music.
Musicians: Erik Windrich-vocals, keyboards ,bass synth & frying pan
Lucien Windrich-guitars, vocals & studio ashtray
Wayne Harker-drums & squashed cymbal.
Ramsay Mackay –Saint Judas (1982)
Hailed as perhaps the most important writer and musician in South African rock music history, Ramsay Mackay recorded this complex and eclectic track as part of his debut solo album. Set against a Celtic inspired track his gruff poetic vocal delivery was too 'out there' for South African radio but remains a classic piece of progressive rock.
From the album “The Suburbs of Ur”; Written & produced by Ramsay Mackay, published by Silversongs ;.Licensed courtesy of Patric van Blerk.
Musicians : Ramsay Mackay-vocals, guitars, bass
Dave Tarr-violin, dulcimer, saxes, pennywhistle, viola,vocals
Rabbitt-And the planets danced (1972)
Showcasing the prodigious talents of a young Trevor Rabin this prog inflected track was used as a springboard to showcase his dexterity as a guitarist and arranger which held him in good stead for the later successes with both Rabbitt and Yes.
B side of “Locomotive breath” single; Written & produced by Fransua Roos & Patric van Blerk, published by Silversongs. Licensed courtesy of Cape Town Sounds.
Musicians : Trevor Rabin-guitars, vocals
Lou 'Moose' Forer-bass
Falling Mirror-Theme from a dream (1981)
Built on a driving acoustic guitar motif coloured by squalling psych guitar it's the perfect platform for vocalist Neilen Mirror's almost English 'madrigal' vocal harmonies .Taken from the band's third album this eccentric track is typical of the band's off-the-wall approach to making challenging rock music.
From the album “The Fantasy Kid” . Written by Alan Faull & Nielen Mirror, published by McCully Music ;produced by Tully McCully. Licensed courtesy of Spaced Out Sounds Studios.
Musicans : Neilen Mirror-vocals
Alan Faull-guitars, keyboards, vocals
Tully McCully-bass, keyboards, drums, vocals
Jackhammer-Tribal Fence (2004)
Recently honoured for his decades long contributions to South African rock music, guitarist/vocalist Piet Botha pays homage to the music that influenced him –in this case Freedoms Children's epic “Astra” masterpiece.
From the album “The Pilgrim”. Written by Ramsay Mackay, published by Ardmore & Beechwood ; produced by Lanie van der Walt & Jackhammer. Licensed courtesy of Piet Botha.
Musicans: Piet Botha-vocals, guitar, piano, organ, harmonica
Johnathan Martin-guitars ,cello, vocals
Tertius du Plessis-bass
Paul van der Waal-drums
Off the Edge-Grandfather Time (2009)
Formed in the 80's by guitarist Peter Hamner ,Off the Edge have released several albums of polished melodic prog rock albums to critical acclaim at home and abroad. This song is taken from their brand new album “Cast in stone ; Composed by Peter Hamner and Mike Dorea, published by in MS. Produced by Peter Hanmer. Licensed courtesy of
Musicians:Peter Hanmer-guitars and keyboards,
Dave Sharp-keyboards, Hammond C3, piano
Clint Cunningham-lead vocals,
Mike Dorea-bass, backing Vocals,
David's Confession-Sometimes (2001)
Guitarist, vocalist, composer, artist and poet, Mel Botes showcases his multi talented skills on this intriguing and complex prog concept piece. Comprising of several interlinked themes the track moves through different moods and melodies creating a aural canvas for the listener.
From the album “About time Chapter 2”.
Culled from his 2001 album, “About time Chapter 2”. Written, produced and published by Mel Botes .Licensed courtesy of Mel Botes
Musicians : Mel Botes: vocals, guitars, harmonica
Conrad Botha: bass
Andries Botha: guitars, mandolin
Philip Botha: vocals, drums, percussion
Neill Solomon & the Uptown Rhythm Dogs-Magic Man (1980)
Neill Solomon has long been recognised as one of the more experimental musicians working in Africa, drawing on a myriad of 'world' influences to create his unique sound From it's African kalimba introduction and intricate acoustic guitar work “Magic Man” weaves a gentle spell .
From the album “The Occupant”. Written by Neill Solomon, published by Passage One Music; produced by Chris Ghelakis ;Licensed courtesy of Neill Solomon.
Musicians : Neill Solomon-vocals, acoustic guitar, piano
Tony 'Lizard' Hunter-saxes, flute, bass