Piet Botha: ‘n Suitcase Vol Winter

Piet Botha: 'n Suitcase Vol Winter

Piet Botha – ‘n Suitcase Vol Winter

Tracks:

  1. Donkermaan [4.27]
  2. Sien Jou Weer [4.02]
  3. Marilyn Monroe [3.09]
  4. Suitcase Vol Winter [4.21]
  5. Van Tonder [4.35]
  6. Die Kind [4.37]
  7. Goeienag Generaal [4.08]
  8. Klein Bietjie Reën [4.37]
  9. In Die Transvaal [4.01]
  10. Staan Saam Burgers [4.21]
  11. Gipsy In Jou Oë [3.59] vocals by Koos Kombuis
  12. Kom Huistoe [3.58]

All songs composed by Piet Botha except ‘In Die Transvaal’ (Valiant Swart) and ‘Gipsy In Jou Oë’ (Piet Botha/Koos Kombuis)

Musicians:

Piet Botha: vocals, guitars, harmonica, piano
Jorik Pienaar: drums
Jason Phillips: bass
Johnathan Martin: guitars, cellos and vocals

Supported by:

Valiant Swart: guitar, vocals
Koos Kombuis: vocals
Brenda Pieterse: vocals

Release information:
1st October 1997, Wildebeest Records, WILD 005
2009, Independent, JHCD002, remastered by Lanie van der Walt in April 2009

iTunes

Comments:
by Brian Currin

Biting Afrikaans commentary with the musical style of Eric Clapton, Mark Knopler, Chris Rea, etc. ‘Goeie Nag Generaal’ is a brilliant hard-rock song about dying for your country but for what? “Toe ek weer so kyk, het ‘n AK jou fucked-up geskiet”. If this had come out ten years earlier it would have been banned outright!

Cover picture was taken at Matjiesfontein station, though the background mountains have been added in.

‘In Die Transvaal’ originally appeared on Valiant Swart’s ‘Die Mystic Boer’ album in 1995.

It seems appropriate that a song called ‘Sien Jou Weer’ (‘See You Again’ if you are not au fait with Afrikaans) begins with that sort of country-ish on the road again sound that you get in the movies as the hero/heroine sets off on a trip. You never quite know if you will see them again.

The music here has a rhythm of a train, a smoothness of the countless whiskeys consumed on the way, the desolation of the open road and a voice as gravelly as the tar on which you ride. You can smell the memories and sadness that gather in the slipstream of the departing sound, but the singer has to go. As Piet sings, ‘kyk nou die langpad/roep my al weer/daar is nou genade en liefe/en nog baie meer’ (‘look, the highway/calls me again/there is mercy and love/and so much more). The call of the open road is strong with this one.

This is Piet Botha and Jack Hammer at their smooth best. They can sometimes rock hard, but when they turn their collective hands (and voices) to those blues, they know exactly what to do and in ‘Sien Jou’ Weer’, they created something of beauty. It’s a song that once you’ve listened to it, you have no objections to seeing it again on your playlist.
— John Samson, 29 March 2019, 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

One wonders if the person Piet Botha is singing of in ‘n Suitcase Vol Winter was told to Vat Jou Goed en trek Ferreira. The drifter is on a train to nowhere, on the run from a woman who wants to shoot him, and all he carries with him is a suitcase full of winter. There is a stoicism about the man in question. He is on the run to nowhere, but this suits him (dit pas my goed). It is a rather bleak image, but there is also a gritty realism about it.

Piet’s growling voice manages to capture all these feelings. He sounds almost as if he doesn’t care, yet at the same time there is a desperate edge to the vocals. This is all laid on top of some blistering blues. From the first thudding beats of the guitar and building, with the aid of harmonica and piano, into a desperate, desolate soundscape that seems to compliment the emotional and physical landscapes one can imagine this man on the run is travelling through.

Except for the fact that the lyrics are in Afrikaans and there is a full band sound, ‘n Suitcase Vol Winter sounds as if it could easily have slid out of one of the great Delta blues singer’s guitars. The subject matter and the rhythm fit perfectly. This is, without a doubt, one of the great Afrikaans blues tracks.
— John Samson, 23 September 2012, 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Goeienag Generaal (The 5FM Sessions version) – Piet Botha & Jack Hammer

The border war in South West (as it was then) and Angola had a significant psychological effect of a lot of young white South Africans conscripted to go and fight there. These effects are still felt by many today and, until recently, was hardly ever spoken of.

In 1997, Piet Botha spoke of it and did so in powerful words against an angry guitar backdrop. The track appeared on his critically acclaimed album ‘‘n Suitcase Vol Winter‘ and talks of the war being fought for all the trappings of capitalism. It was fought for ‘Vir Harry Oppenheimer en al sy maats, Vir Rembrandt van Rijn en Alfred Dunhill, En die OK Bazaars, En die hele bloody spul by die SAUK, Julle was die oorlog vir die CIA.’ And while the war was being fought for these people, Whitey, was being shot by an AK47.

Whether you agree with Piet’s view of the reasons for the war or not, this is one of the great anti-war songs that thunders along with venom, anger and a pounding rhythm. It sounds just as good on the live versions that are available as the studio ones do.
— John Samson, 11 June 2011, 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Review:
by Stephen Segerman

This first solo album of modern, Afrikaans folk/blues songs happened on the instigation of Eckard Potgieter, the owner of Wildebeest Records. He suggested an album of slow, soft and relevant Afrikaans songs. After four months of production at the Sunset Studios in Stellenbosch, under the guiding hand of Jurgen von Wechmar, ‘Suitcase Vol Winter’ was released. Although many of Stellenbosch’s finest musicians helped with the album, it was mostly Piet Botha’s labour of love and was very different to his previous work with Raven and Jack Hammer.

The 12 songs on this album are acoustic-based, laid back and emotional. Botha wrote all the songs (with the exception of Valiant Swart’s ‘In Die Transvaal’ and the Koos Kombuis written-and-sung ‘Gipsey In Jou Oe’) and delivered the finest vocal performance of his career with ballads like the beautiful and sad ‘Van Tonder’ and the reflective title track. Along with Swart, Kombuis and Koos du Plessis, Piet Botha was responsible for establishing Afrikaans as a competitive rock music “taal” again.

Piet and Pik Botha

Piet and Pik Botha

These sensitive and narrative songs cover all those SA subjects that had affected Piet Botha as a South African growing up in the apartheid-era. From the Anglo-Boer and Border wars (‘Goeienag Generaal’), life, death and politics to wives, film stars and “the road”, Botha covers all these relevant topics with strong lyrics, steady and sympathetic backing and a wide range of feelings that leaves this album up there with the best from Koos Kombuis and Valiant Swart.

The other artists appearing on this album are Jorik Pienaar (drums), Jason Phillips (bass), Johnathan Martin (guitars, cellos and vocals) as well as Koos Kombuis, Valiant Swart and Brenda Pieterse. While it must be mentioned that Piet is the son of the long-serving Nationalist Party Foreign Affairs minister, Pik, it should also be said that Piet Botha’s alternative career certainly puts paid to that old Afrikaans cliché, “Die appel val nie ver van die boom af nie”. A great SA artist and album.

Discography: