Some seriously amazing bands emerged out of this troubled, violent, sickeningly sad and desolate time in S.A. Most of these bands were banned from playing or having their records released in the U.S. and U.K. due to the nature of the Apartheid, they were shunned even though the content of the music is all anti-apartheid, and anti-suppression. A lot of these bands went unnoticed for years, even decades before being re-issued and rediscovered. Some heavy shit, man. Heavy shit.
Am I here to talk about the Apartheid? NO. Although I can tell you first hand shit got gnarly. I was born and raised in S.A. during the 80’s and moved with my family to California a few short years before this era would come crushing down.
I never really understood why it was that way as a kid. It just WAS. I'm pretty sure it's what inspired my angst and general hatred for well, pretty much everything. I've never really identified myself as being of a "race" or "color", but just African. (Try explaining that to dudes in Oaktown that are about to bust a cap in your ass because you just told them you are blacker than they are) I have major African pride; to the point where I decided to keep my African citizenship AND write this blog paying tribute to what I consider to be some true African diamonds- two of the most inspiring and fucking HEAVY psych/prog/hard rock bands of the year, if not ever.
These guys are legends in South Africa. They were the biggest Hessian group to emerge from the S.A. hard rock scene, causing chaos wherever they went. These situations usually ended in curtains being lit on fire, antique pianos being smashed to pieces, yogurt throwing fights and being escorted back to S.A. every time they tried to tour in a neighboring country. This dude “Moose” I guess was the biggest instigator, and being that he was the bassist, it makes sense because sometimes bassists want recognition and attention too, not that I would know ANYTHING about that.
"Moose carried a bowie knife and I had a claw hammer, which were our weapons of choice. Andy carried his beloved Colt Python .357 Magnum and a cat-o-nine tails, which he brandished with much relish on stage!" (Now you know who wrote "The Whip"!). After all, self-preservation was foremost in our minds - we had to defend ourselves against all the "straights" that were out to scalp us! Moose once went after Freedom's Children's Brian Davidson (see next band) with an axe!"
– Steven Gilroy, guitarist.
(Dude. Let's Party)
The real big shame here is that they only wrote and recorded ONE original song. They got super bummed on the scene and media that bashed them endlessly. They should have made it big. They had a similar sound to Leafhound (and therefore Zep-sorry Cobras, dunno if you're still on your "I hate everything The Bone plays" kick-if it's any conselation they played SpookyTooth today, pretty rad). They quit after 8 short months of non-stop debauchery. Most of them went on to be either music teachers or christians. Go figure.
The covers they did were amazing though. “Aimless Lady” by Grand Funk Railroad is my favorite on this album. They had great taste in music. “Season of the Witch” is a way extended version of the Donovan original, and I think King Crimson would be proud of the “21st Century Schizoid Man” cover. The vocals totally soar and every element on this album is so messy yet gorgeous.
1. Aimless Lady originally by Grand Funk Railroad
2. 21st Century Schizoid Man originally by King Crimson
3. Season Of The Witch originally by Donovan
4. Sin's A Good Man's Brother originally by Grand Funk Railroad
5. I'll Be Creeping originally by Free
6. The Whip written by Suck
7. Into The Fire originally by Deep Purple
8. Elegy originally by Colosseum
9. War Pigs originally by Black Sabbath
(did you get that? MAXIMUM VOLUME BITCHES-
fuck your neighbors and your moms)
(It is said that this album was conceptualized by Ramsay Mackay-founder of the band, while watching Americans land on the moon;while he was tripping on acid. Perhaps this album cover is somehow a reflection of that, perhaps not)
So “Moose” got all agro on this dude Brian Davidson. I’m sure they worked it out and fist pounded like bros though, because he sang for a pretty awesome band that they played shows with frequently. Freedom’s Children were tripped-out, ground breaking, mind-frying and regarded as one of the time’s most overlooked recordings. This album is haunting and beautiful and incorporates guitarist Julian Laxton’s own invention the “Black Box” (an oscillating multi-effects box-not crazy fancy but it made things “get weird”) with which they patched every instrument through on this album. This invention was prototyped by a company in London which spawned a short lived UK career, until the Musicians Union sanction against South African Artists gave them a no go to playing shows in the UK. That didn’t stop them however, and they recorded this great album while partying with newfound psych bros. Although I haven’t done acid in YEARS, ”The Homecoming” kinda makes me want to again. Check it out.
(Ramsay:the man behind the magic- frying balls)
TRIP THE LIGHT FANTASTIC
So there you have it. A little insight into a forgotten land, and perhaps yours truly. There's definitely more where this came from (Ramsay was also in this other band The Third Eye, and Hawk-also known as Joburg Hawk, all pretty good shit) but these are what I consider to be the "diamonds in the rough".
I am "technology challenged". Let me know if some or all of this shit gives you problems, so I can throw my fucking computer through the window. Thanks.