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Tuesday 12 April 2011

We're Back - With Julian

Evening all. I got back from Cape Town this morning laden down with new music for you all. It includes some new Tsonga Disco, from Peta Teanet, Esta M and a few less well-known names. At the airport last night I was amazed to find a DVD of Tsonga/ Shangaan hits in the souvenir shop. In the extremely unlikely event that I manage to work out how to upload clips from it I will share them with you.

Other CDs include the first five albums by Freddie Gwala - let's hope I like him - and some interesting looking stuff from Zimbabwe and Mozambique. There are also a few pieces of vinyl, including bagpipe jazz (really) and Jim Reeves singing in Afrikaans.

It is going to take me a while to sort through all of that. In the meantime, let's pay tribute to a man who was involved in most of the more interesting rock music to come out of South Africa in the late 1960s to mid 1970s - guitarist and producer Julian Laxton. He was a member of South Africa's leading psychedelic outfit Freedom's Children and was involved as a session man or producer with other local acts such as Suck, Otis Waygood and John & Philipa Cooper (whose "Cooperville Times" LP is considered a bit of a lost psych classic).

In the early 1970s he joined Hawk (known as Jo'burg Hawk in the UK), one of the inventors of Afro-rock and highly controversial in Apartheid era South Africa because of the mix of black and white members. By the mid 1970s he was leading his eponymous band, who stormed the local charts with their hippy/disco hybrid sound and producing local pop acts like Rabbitt and Margaret Singana. He later went onto produce many leading local acts such as Mango Groove and Lucky Dube, and write countless film and TV scores. All in all, he is a bit of a dude.

"Kafkaesque" - Freedom's Children

"Orang Outang" - Hawk

"Blue Water" - The Julian Laxton Band

I haven't been able to find any clips of Julian himself in action, but here is an example of his work - Margaret Singana with the theme to the 1980s TV series "Shaka Zulu", scored and produced by Big Jules.

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