Wildebeest: Bushrock 1
- Tribal Fence (Ramsay MacKay) [4.36]
- Bokslaai (Trad. arr. Wildebeest) [4.46]
- Russian And Chips (The Kid He Came From Nazareth) (Ramsay MacKay) [3.59]
- The Horseman (Doc Barendse / Piet Botha) [4.15]
- Pofadder (incl Slowly Towards The North) (Ramsay MacKay) [6.05]
- Living Drummers (Colin Pratley) [7.02]
- Here We Go Again (Piet Botha) [3.54]
- Hottentotsgot (Trad. arr. Wildebeest) [4.02]
- No Time In The City (Wildebeest) [6.31]
Piet “JP” Botha: Bass, harmonica
Boet Farber: Guitar, vocals
Colin Pratley: African drums, vocals
Karlien van Niekerk: Vocals
Dave Tarr: Violin, vocals
LP: 1981, Rap Records, SRLPC10
CD: May 2000, Pofadder, licenced to Wildebeest, WILD022
CD: September 2010, Fresh Music, freshcd171
Remastered from vinyl by Lanie van der Walt.
by Brian Currin
‘The Horseman’ was originally the b-side of the ‘Wheel Of Fortune‘ single released by Raven in 1979 which also featured Piet Botha.
A studio version of ‘Hottentotsgot’ was recorded in 1983 and released on the ‘Wildebeest EP’.
‘Pofadder’ includes ‘Slowly Towards The North’ which was written by Ramsay Mackay and recorded by Freedoms Children for the ‘Astra‘ album in 1970 and as an expanded suite by Hawk on the Live And Well album in 1974. ‘Slowly Towards The North’ was recorded by Jack Hammer and released on the TuksFM Sessions CD in February 2006.
‘Tribal Fence’ is a cover of the Freedoms Children track from the 1970 album ‘Astra‘. It was also recorded by Rabbitt on their ‘A Croak And A Grunt…’ album in 1977. The Rabbitt version features the incredible vocal talents of Margaret Singana, who was the lead singer on ‘The Warrior’ album by Ipi ‘N Tombia in 1973. Margaret Singana also recorded a very powerful version of ‘Tribal Fence’ which is available on her ‘Lady Africa’ compilation CD. ‘Tribal Fence’ was re-recorded by Jack Hammer and released on ‘The Pilgrim‘ in April 2005.
‘Russian And Chips’ is a cover version of the Freedom’s Children classic ‘The Kid He Came From Hazareth’ (yes, Hazareth!) combined with a traditional Russian folk song. Re-recorded by Jack Hammer and released on ‘The Pilgrim’ in April 2005.
The Kid He Came From Hazareth (or should that be Nazareth?):
When we first recorded this song, it was called ‘The Kid That Came From Nazareth’. When the album ‘Astra’ was submitted to the SABC (Old Regime) for their playlist, they banned the album because of that track, as it was “Blasphemous“. They said that if we changed all references to the word “Nazareth” including the recording, they would unban the album. So it was back to the studio and a re-recording of the lyrics as well as re-doing all the artwork. This was quite standard practice in those days.Julian Laxton, January 2001
‘Bushrock 1’ was recorded live at Upstairs (Sunnyside, Pretoria) on 28 February and 1 March 1981. One tends to forget the great sounds Wildebeest produced with the interaction between the frenetic violin of Dave Tarr and driving lead guitar of Boet Farber. I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten that ‘Bushrock 1’ features ‘Slowly towards the North’ (as ‘Pofadder’), ‘The Kid He Came From Nazareth’ (as ‘Russian and Chips’) and ‘Tribal Fence’.Dave Malherbe, October, 1999
SA Rock Digest Issue #77, 1st October 2000
by Kurt Shoemaker, Texas
I get a chuckle out of the introduction to Wildebeest’s live set ‘Bushrock 1’ wherein the audience is advised to “settle back and relax” — then the music begins, grabs one, throws one around, and does not let up through nine songs and nearly 45 minutes of straight ahead rock. Relax?! Only by moving to the music!
Take a sharp guitarist (Boet Faber) and a thundering, driving bassist (Piet Botha) — add an exuberantly talented drummer (Colin Pratley) and a rocking violin (Dave Tarr), sweeten with some lovely, yet strong, female vocals (Karlien van Niekerk), crank up the volume (you), and that’s the basis of Wildebeest’s thundering, stampeding rock album.
The songs are primarily driven by beat and rhythm, nonetheless the other instruments come to the fore without the other players getting out of the road. Piet’s bass punctuates and emphasizes as it drives along, the rock steady and creative drumming is ever present, and the violin here becomes an essential rock instrument. Then the guitar sears and soars. Masterful rock, and with the great Colin Pratley flailing away on the drums, I think of it as Progressive Jungle Music.
After a modest-tempo and emotional opening song, ‘Tribal Fence’, ‘Bokslaai’ cranks in with a Celtic-sounding fiddle over some furious rock guitar, earnest drumming, and driving bass.
Song number three is a dramatic number with moving vocals titled ‘Russian and Chips’ — Actually, it’s Astra’s ‘The Kid He Came From Nazareth’. There is a Russian air to it in the fiddle and the shouted “Hey! Hey!”
‘The Horseman’ has soaring vocals and an urgent beat — like most of the CD it is definitely up tempo, yet the consistent fast pacing of the songs is not the same enough to detract — there is plenty of musical variety here. This is an album to keep a party jumping.
The next song, ‘Pofadder’, a hard rock tune, surges in like a speeding train. A musical interlude, wherein the song is slowed in order to get let it steam ahead again, is filled by the lyrics to ‘Slowly Toward The North’. Then the musicians kick the tune back into high gear. Like ‘Bokslaai’, the audience responds to the singer’s call of “Pofadder!” with “Pofadder!”
‘Pofadder’ is followed by ‘Living Drummers’, and here Colin gets a chance to demonstrate his virtuosity and stretch out a bit. Not merely a drum solo, but a musician playing percussion.
‘Here We Go Again’ follows, and the tempo slows a bit, while Karlien sings the lovely melody. One of the guys periodically shouts “We gonna tell you all about it!” that distracts slightly, but this is a nice tune. It does not rush forward as do the other songs, but one needs valleys to know what the mountains look like — not at all a bad rock, it just follows the previous seven songs.
‘Hottentotsgot’ goes off rocking in an instrumental direction from the previous tune, building slowly with some freaky noises.
The closing tune, ‘No Time in the City’ shows Wildebeest’s creativity and invention don’t fade toward the end. This is a chugging tune that, in the lyrics, is more conventional rock than the rest of the album — but the Wildebeest musicians don’t play anything conventionally.
All in all, this is a CD that engages one’s attention and holds one’s interest; pay attention and it rewards with listening pleasure — there is a rich variety of rhythmic rock on this CD.
What a pair of shows these must have been live at the Sunnyside in Pretoria in 1981. I’m certain they live vividly as wildly fun experiences in the memories of those who attended.
Last week I wrote about Jack Hammer’s ‘Death of a Gypsy‘ CD. This week I have not been able to stop listening to either ‘Death of a Gypsy’ or ‘Bushrock 1’. I have been alternating these two CDs in the hi fi — with Wonderboom’s new EP thrown in at appropriate moments. To judge by Wonderboom’s ‘Never Ever Ever’, Jack Hammer’s ‘Death of a Gypsy’, and the projected re-releases heralded by ‘Bushrock 1’, the South African music scene is hot.
Like I said, I can’t stop listening to this album, and why should I? When I was a teenager who loved loud beat music, if I had bought this album it would have become one of my favorite hard rocking discs. Some things don’t change.
A NAARTJIE IN THE UK – SA Rock Digest Issue #212, 3rd August 2003
London-based John Samson gives his own twist on SA music
WILDEBEEST – ‘BUSHROCK 1’
With a group name like Wildebeest one may be tempted to classify this album as being Gnu-Metal. However it’s not metal so that’s not the best label for it. The label the CD release it did turn up on was strangely enough Wildebeest Records. With song titles like ‘The Horseman’, ‘Pofadder’ and ‘Hottentotsgot’, one can hardly be surprised that the remastering from vinyl was done by Lani van der Walt of Not My Dog fame, adding to the menagerie of sound (but never sounding like The Animals).
So how then would one describe Wildebeest’s music? Well, looking at the musician credits, top of the list is Colin Pratley who plays ‘African Drums’, so you know what kind of rhythms to expect. Next up is Dave Tarr on violin. He provides a decidedly Irish sound to these African rhythms. Despite this combination, don’t expect the Afro Celt Sound System as Boet Faber adds a mean rock guitar, a certain JP Botha (known to most of us as Piet Botha), thunders away on the bass while Karlien van Niekerk adds some dramatic vocals to this Afro-celt, rock (bordering on prog) folk sound.
It’s not too surprising to find covers of Freedom’s Children’s ‘Tribal Fence’ and ‘The Kid He Came From Nazareth’ here as Pratley was once a Children. ‘The Kid…’ appears here under the name ‘Russian and Chips’ as the song is given a decidedly Cossack rhythm to it, and followers of Piet Botha will be familiar with this arrangement as he has played it live on a number of occasions.
The album was recorded live at Upstairs in Sunnyside, Pretoria in 1981, and I must admit that the rawness of the album takes a little getting used to. There seems to have been no studio technology here to smooth away rough edges, but that lends an authenticity and excitement to the album. Listening to this certainly is the next best thing to actually being there. You can feel the frantic sweaty energy engulfing the small smoke-filled room as you shout back ‘Pofadder!’ in response to the band’s cry, or nod your head along with the audience as Pratley launches into a brilliant drum solo (not quite as long as that on ‘Galactic Vibes’). Just don’t get too carried away and try and order a beer from your mom, you’re likely to get a klap.
Voted the local album of the year by Tom Jasiukowicz in the Rand Daily Mail when it was first released, this re-release is well worth owning. These guys could probably make George W. Bushrock.
Press Release, October 2000:
Wildebeest – Bushrock 1 was originally released in 1981. The “Bushrock” concept was Colin Pratley’s brainchild and is the perfect way to describe the music of Wildebeest. A blend of African, traditional and rock music performed with amazing energy. African drums, violin and rock guitars accompanied by a sweet melodic female vocal. The Rand Daily Mail voted ‘Bushrock 1’ album of the year in 1981. Due to public demand Wildebeest Records (whose logo was borrowed from the ‘Bushrock 1’ album cover) had the album re-mastered from vinyl by Lanie van der Walt at Wolmer Records and the ‘Bushrock 1’ album is now available at selected CD shops.
The original Wildebeest line up was:
Colin Pratley on African drums and vocals.
Dave Tarr on Electric violin, guitar, flute, pennywhistle and sax
Piet Botha on Bass, harmonica and guitar
Boet Faber on lead guitar
Karlien van Niekerk on vocals
Moonshine remembers Dave Tarr (who died 21 January 2002)
by Moonshine Lee, February 2002
Dave got married in the latter part of his life and settled on the Natal South coast. During this time Piet & I lost contact with him, but Colin Pratley had contact with him in the last months of his life. He also played with Kenny Henson (ala Finch & Henson) in the last days.
I met Dave Tarr back in 1972/73 when he played (violin & mandolin) in the original Silver Creek Mountain Band with Roger Cummings (who died very tragically in a car accident in Johannesburg in 1974), Dennis Schultz and Rod Dry (who is the only remaining member of the original Silver Creek Mountain Band still playing in the band and still going……………)
I did my National Service in the SA Navy and did a lot of yachting during this time. When I first met Dave Tarr at the Keg & Tankard in Pretoria where they were playing, we discovered that we both had a passion for ocean yachting. Dave had crewed for a number of deep sea ocean adventures and it was actually his first love, music at the time came second and he mostly played music at the time as a source of income when he could not go sailing round the world or to parts of it anyway. This was unfortunately (unbeknown to him or any of us at the time) when his health problems started (skin cancer).
Not too long after Roger Cummings passed away, Dennis Schultz left Silver Creek Mountain Band and Dave followed suite soon after that. He returned to East London (his home town I think) and got the seawater pumping in his veins again. He took to sea once again and after one or two sailing adventures, in 1980 during the doldrums, Colin Pratley teamed up with Piet Botha, Boet Faber, Dave Tarr and Carlien to form the original Wildebeest.
It was during this time that I had the honour and privilege of spending a lot of time with and getting to know Dave or Mr. Plod as we fondly knew him. In 1981 the original Wildebeest recorded the Wildebeest Bushrock 1 album live at ‘Upstairs’ in Sunnyside Pretoria and we are fortunate to now have that album available on CD. This album reflects Dave Tarr’s genius on electric violin, the likes in my opinion, that has never or will ever easily be equalled again.
Early in 1982 Dave left Wildebeest (I’m not even sure why anymore, but I wouldn’t be far off if I guessed that some or other opportunity to go on some sea voyage came up and got the seawater pumping again………)
Sadly it was from here on that I lost contact with Dave and only bumped into him on two or three occasions after that.
‘One Skin Mile from Skullgrin’ was the period after Dave and Carlien had left Wildebeest when Paul van Eeden joined the band. The concert took place round September / October 1982, I don’t remember the exact date but Piet has a copy of the original program.
Wildebeest on Kraaines TV programme, early ’80s