South African Top Ten Rock Albums of the 80s
compiled by John Samson, December 2001
- JOHNNY CALLS THE CHEMIST - FALLING MIRROR (1986)
The dark and psychotic world of drugs and obsession is set against a back drop of upbeat rock. Nielen Marais's delicately edgy vocals slice one to the bone while Alan Faull's guitar roars and weeps. This album is as addictive as its subject matter, the title track a classic, and the album timeless.
- FATHOMS OF FIRE - DOG DETATCHMENT (1985)
Powerpunk at its tuneful best. The Stormtrooping Dogs produced some of the best music of the decade and were at their peak with this classic. The angst-ridden vocals clash with snarling guitars but never to the detriment of tune. An intelligence pervades these bleak soundscapes of gut wrenching emptiness.
- THE RISING TIDE - BRIGHT BLUE (1989)
It's got 'Weeping' on it.
- éVOID - éVOID (1983)
Ethnocentric tunes that you could dance your heart out to. Classics like 'Shadows', 'Taximan' and 'I am a Fadget' tumble out at you, brimming with energy and gusto. Not just an important album of the 80's, but an essential timeless SA album that gave the local music scene a much needed boost.
- WAITING FOR THE HEAVE - SYD KITCHEN & THE UTENSILS (1987)
Syd Kitchen is a criminally overlooked South African artist. The beautifully crafted and exquisitely executed music on this album is an absolute joy to listen to and immerse oneself in.
- WIE IS BERNOLDUS NIEMAND? - BERNOLDUS NIEMAND (1985)
Without this album we would probably not have the likes of Koos Kombuis, Valiant Swart and Karen Zoid to entertain us today. A vital album in the growth of Afrikaaner Kool. Under this pseudonym, James Phillips sang songs about real life and real places in SA and did it with the coolest of eksents. A most important nobody.
- FAR CRY - CARTE BLANCHE (1986)
Another criminally overlooked album that fairly powers along from the opening moments. A great collection of pop rock with politically astute lyrics and wonderful production.
- AFRICAN LITANY - JULUKA (1981)
No list of SA greats would be complete without a Johnny Clegg entry. 'African Litany' is rootsy afropop at its best. The simplistic beauty of 'African Sky Blue' and the powerful anthemic 'Impi' are just two shining examples of cultural synergies that 1980's South Africa publicly decried, but behind closed doors we danced ourselves silly.
- ANCIENT DUST - EDI NIEDERLANDER (1986)
Usually one tries to keep dust off one's vinyl albums, but with Edi Niederlander's 1986 classic, the dust of Africa is so ingrained in the music that you fear for your stylus. Edi taps into the rhythms of Africa and delivers a polished album of acoustic beauty and vocal clarity. The title track is awesome.
- ON LOAN FOR EVOLUTION - PEACH (1981)
Spikier than a punk's mohawk, bouncier than a nursery school class on a jumping castle and more sneer than Billy Idol and Elvis put together, Peach's only album showcases Angie Peach's great vocal talent and the band's songwriting talent. 'A Lot of Things' and 'Nightmare' were deservedly top 10 hits on the Springbok Top 20, while the cover of XTC's 'Complicated Games' is chillingly dark and wonderful.
One Came Running - No Friends of Harry; Delicious Monster - David Kramer; Eet Kreef - Johannes Kerkorrel; Voëlvry - Various; Be Bop Pop - Spectres; Here comes the Rot - éVoid; Barriers - Dog Detachment; The Last Laugh - Dog Detachment; The Killing Floor - All Night Radio; Lesley Rae Dowling - Lesley Rae Dowling; Inside - Kevin Abraham... to name but a few.
For more classic rock albums from SA's music history go here...
Also recommended: SA Rock Gold
A 59 track, 3 CD set of the cream of South African Rock, from the early '70s through to the '90s.
South Africa's Rock Lists
South Africa's Rock Files