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Geen Babylon Gedagte Hier

Geen Babylon Gedagte Hier

by Andy Davis / 17.11.2009

The most striking thing about the new Tidal Waves album, Manifesto, is the sheer range of musical styles they manage to incorporate into their reggae groove. From kwela to boeremusiek to old 1950s style Jamaican ska via Sophiatown swing, mbaqanga, goema and rock – all fleshing out a reggae backbone. Manifesto is an original and distinctly African contemporary reggae soundtrack that is stuck on repeat in my car and fast becoming my favourite release of 2009.

And why should we expect anything less from a band that gets their crowds to chant the mantra, “original music for original people” over and over at all their gigs. It’s a rallying cry. A statement of intent. The sad thing is that other bands, consciously or sub-consciously, mimic the glutt of American and European music styles, and succeed. While Tidal Waves remain peripheral to mainstream South African music. Their albums are hard to find in shops and online. They struggle for airplay on radio and are generally snubbed by the local music industry tsars. And yet they’re steeped in South African music, creating relevant tunes, with a conscious message, and the most exciting and original sound around. Their roots are buried firmly in our culture. And their fruit is one of our sweetest.

Without a shadow of a doubt Manifesto is their best album since the 2002 breakthrough Harmonijah. Since then the band has been through many different incarnations over the years, as players have come and gone. But the core has always remained the same. With Tebogo Sam Shoai on drums, percussion and vox and Zoyisile Zakes Wulana up front on guitar, harmonica, vuvuzela and vox. The introduction of Jaco Mans on lead guitar as well as being signed to Oppikoppi for the last few years, has added an extra dimension to the music. There’s a distinctive swing towards Afrikaans culture, incorporating boeremusiek, langarm, a konsertina and other sokkie elements into their music. As their now deceased former keyboardist Andile Reuben Faku once told me, “Afrikaans, it’s an identity for us.”
And why not, it has long been proven that Afrikaans audiences support and nurture local music far more loyally than us soutpiele with our eyes trained North. And since signing to Oppikoppi the band plays regularly and has a staunch folllowing in both Pretoria and Northam. Then add Abrie Mmakola on keys, from Lucky Dube’s old band, and old time North West collaborator Charlie Mathopa on bass and the sound has certainly changed some. But the core of the music is the same. Only better.

The album kicks off with something new – a 30 second brass intro before skanking into an easy upbeat little track called “Happy Man”. All feel good reggae and positive vibes, hypnotic basslines and upbeat vocals. With Zakes and Sam swapping verses. Their distinctive vocal interplay and contrasting styles is a Tidal Waves trademark. Track two “Mo’Faya” is a jump track, it probably works better live with the vuvuzelas and the building rock-inspired chorus, but it’s my least favourite track on the album. Once you get over it, the rest of the album is pure inspiration. “Vastrap” is exactly that. A reggae inspired vastrap with tingly kwela guitars and mbaqanga keys. You’ll kak yourself for the originality in this song. It’s got hit written all over it. Upbeat with a big smile, if you’ve got just the tiniest splotch of Afrika in your blood, you literally cannot sit still to this track. And check the lyrics. Zakes sings “Die is ‘n nuwe pad / Whiteys and darkies mingel mekaar my bra / Maak seker jy staan regop / Dan gaan ons verklop / Links. Regs. Links. Regs. Links. Regs.”
Then the concertina wails… Vastrap! And Sam comes in with, “There is a natural mystic order I-ya / Love and respect vir al die mense / Daar’s geen Babylon gedagte hier / Geen eugenics movement / Gou gaan ons een liedjie sing.”


The album then hits us with one of the sweetest reggae songs, the Soshanguve brass section blow a plaintiff riff, hues of Hugh Masekela, on “What you got”. More conscious reggae lyrics that cut to the heart of where we are as a nation. Zakes kicks it off with: “There’s a stain in your garment / You’re not devoted to wipe it off / Your pride leads you to destruction and your arrogance to a downfall / All your riches will do you no good / Respect and honesty will save your life.”
And then this clear, calm voice from behind the drum kit: “Times have changed drastically in this capitalistic world / Don’t care for me / Don’t care for you / God for us all but every man for himself.”

“Mogalammakappa” is another natural, smiley hybrid. Afrikaans lyrics over bouncy 1950s Jamaican ska rhythms with a Sophiatown swing twist. “Die Berg is Hoog / Maar dis groen daarbo.”
“Knowledge” is a straight reggae standard. All rolling basslines carrying a strong message about teaching your kids to do right. “Lufuno” is a tshiVenda reggae song. “Lufuno luna manda” love has power. With Jaco Mans playing your heart strings on the lead guitar.

Strange that it takes 8 songs before we hear the trademark Tidal Waves harmonica, But it arrives on “Alles is Befok”, which is, without doubt, my summer song for 2009/2010. It just kills me. Mashes me with music. This is some high level feel good voodoo shit right here. “Ek is net ‘n rasta man / En ek kla nie man”
“Go tell everybody / Alles is befok!”

The flood gates open. Hit after hit. “Ke Bale” is a Tswana language reggae beaut. The collab with Piet Botha on “Gypsey’s Lament” also looks destined to blow up. Every Tidal Waves album has at least one instrumental dub on it, and Sleep Walking brings Jaco’s skill on the lead guitar to the fore. It’s got a very different feel to a reggae dub, especially with the brass section taking the lead and Jaco channeling both Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana in a Soweto shebeen with his guitar solo. But it’s a classic foot tapper.

And the sad thing is, this fucking masterpiece hasn’t been picked up by any of the major distributors, yet. Still the easiest way to get your hands on the SA music release of the year, is to hit a Tidal Waves gig. This is true reggae. Heart reggae. Original music… 12 gold stars. 7 fat lips. 120%. Find this album. Buy it now. If I ever make it to be the king of South Africa, I’m going to pass a decree that every citizen has to own this album or we’ll drive you into the sea, by law. Justice for all. Do yourself a favour.

Catch Tidal Waves on their Manifesto launch tour at one of these dates and venues below. And don’t forget to buy the album.

Date: Wed 25 November
Venue: Cheeky Monkey
Adress: Gift Acres Centre, Lynwood Road, Lynnwood, Pretoria
Venue Contact: (012) 361 5531
Bands: Tidal Waves, Captain Stu (CT) and Crimson King
Bands Start: 21h00
Cover Charge: R30.00

Date: Sun 29 November
Venue: The Blue Moon – 10 Year Birthday Bash
Adress: Uitkyk Road, Nelspruit
Venue Contact: (013) 744- 9033
Bands: Tidal Waves, Black Cat Bone and Akkedis
Bands Start: 15h00
Cover Charge: FREE

Date: Thu 3 December
Venue: Cool Runnings
Adress: 1 Riverbend Rd, Bloubosrand, Fourways, Johannesburg
Venue Contact: (011) 704 0987
Bands: Tidal Waves, Voodoo Child and Some Grow Young
Bands Start: 21h00
Cover Charge: R30.00

Date: Fri 4 December
Venue: Steak and Ale – ‘Die Laaste Kabaal’
Adress: Botha Ave. Centurion
Venue Contact: (012) 664-5155
Bands: Tidal Waves, The Allen Wood Project, Die Kaalkop Waarheid, Black
Cat Bone and Mrs B
Bands Start: 19h00
Cover Charge: R100.00

Date: Sat 5 December
Venue: The Black Dahlia
Adress: c/o Ravenswood & Trichardts Rd, Boksburg
Venue Contact: Jadd 072 725 7254
Bands: Tidal Waves and Some Grow Young (third act TBC)
Bands Start: 20h00
Cover Charge: R40.00

Date: Tue 8 December
Venue: The Chain & Sprocket
Adress: 30 Pitlochery Road, Westville, Durban
Venue Contact: Taryn 084 444 4666
Bands: Tidal Waves, 7th Son and the Meditators
Bands Start: 20h00
Cover Charge: R30.00

Date: Wed 9 December
Venue: VMac’s Roadhouse
Adress: Unit 7, 97 Goodwood Rd, Mahogany Ridge, Westmead, Pinetown
Venue Contact: (031) 7001433 or 082 8806456
Bands: Tidal Waves and Syd Kitchen
Bands Start: 19h00
Cover Charge: R50.00

Date: Thurs 10 December
Venue: Zulu Jazz Lounge
Adress: 231 Smith Street, Durban
Venue Contact:  (031) 304 2373
Bands: Tidal Waves, Fruits & Veggies and Syd Kitchen (fourth act TBC)
Bands Start:
Cover Charge: R40.00

Date: Fri 11 December
Venue: Cliffy’s Pub
Adress: 117 Grimthorpe Avenue, Pietermaritzburg
Venue Contact: (033) 396 6710
Bands: Tidal Waves and Syd Kitchen (third act TBC)
Bands Start: 21h00
Cover Charge: R20.00

Date: Sat 12 December
Venue: The Willovale Hotel
Adress: 406 c/o Glenwood & Umbilo Rd, Durban
Venue Contact: (031) 205 3745
Bands: Tidal Waves, 7th Son, T.H.O.T.S and DJ Creepy Steve
Bands Start: 21h00
Cover Charge: R30.00

Date: Tue 15 December
Venue: Raggies Bar
Adress: Shop 22/23, Sporgs Center, Beacon Bay , East London
Venue Contact: (043) 748 6032
Bands: Tidal Waves and BEE
Bands Start: 21h30
Cover Charge: R30.00

Date: Wed 16 December
Venue: Peace Party
Adress: Peace of Eden Farm, Rheenedal, Knysna
Venue Contact: Jessica (044) 388 4671 / 074 185 2004
Bands: Tidal Waves, Captain Stu, Gary Thomas, Wendy Oldfield, The Abbott
Network, The Frown Family Karavan, Offshore Jazz, Habit To, Brent Kozak,
Something Strange and the Coffee Bay Rollers, Vuvu, Tune Raider, Chris
Klass, DJ Renegade, Taniia, The Blue Monkies, and comedy with Rob van
Vuuren, Martin Evans and Dave Levinson.
Bands Start: 13h00
Cover Charge: R80.00

Date: Fri 18 December
Venue: The Purple Turtle
Adress: c/o Long Street and Shortmarket Street, Cape Town
Venue Contact: (021) 424 0811
Bands: Tidal Waves and the Little Kings
Bands Start: 22h00
Cover Charge: R40.00

Date: Mon 21 December
Venue: The Waiting Room
Adress: 273 Long Street, Cape Town
Venue Contact: (021) 422 4536
Bands: Tidal Waves Unplugged with Stefan Dixon
Bands Start: 21h30
Cover Charge: R30

Date: Thu 24 December
Venue: Mercury Live
Adress: 43 de Villiers Street, Cape Town
Venue Contact: (021) 465-2106
Bands: Tidal Waves and Napalma
Bands Start: 21h30
Cover Charge: R40.00

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  1. Jess says:

    HalleluJah bless Tidal Waves!

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  2. D says:

    GREAT BAND….socially concious lyrics dont fit the format of BULLSHIT that provides the soundtrack to shopping and debt attainment- and make people think too much-fuckit the next thing ull be dancing all night and forget to even mash ur brains out as u revel in the african spirit wich to my mind circumvents angst or at least deals with angst in a different way to a lot of the mediocre mush that makes it to the airways-when u see the dire ,wicked unstable b grade nickleback acts that make it onto SABC3 most evenings then one has to wonder -Reggae is not some expat singing the anthem in France…..Tidal Waves is reggae -soul-hope -swagger -sweat-and love -fuck the format lets make them famous

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  3. Jess says:

    D – agreed! I was really sad to see how ‘reggae’ and ‘rasta’ were used to label the performance of the national anthem that everyone is so upset about. The You Tube video is even entitled “stoned man sings national anthem.’ It is so disrespectful to the rest of rastafari and reggae artistes and people who are consciously spreading One Love and Peace in an effort to integrate South Africa and to see Unity and Equality for all. Let’s make some noise, and show the rest of the country what REAL reggae is all about! Aweh!

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  4. Andy says:

    Hey D – were you watching SABC3 last night? I saw that band… what utter shite! How does that kak get on our TV screens and Tidal Waves doesn’t even get a whiff!

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  5. schmidal waves says:

    oh yawn yawn yawn. these o’s are so fucking boring. really.

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  6. Andy says:

    You wish you could rock nearly as hard, or as on point, as the Tidal Waves massive!

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  7. Andy says:

    and we all know you’re into cheesy 80s synth pop – so your opinion doesn’t count

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  8. Adriaan Fourie says:

    thanks for this andy.
    this is something to look forward to for when i’m going back to SA this summer.
    im sure i will pick up an album.
    die is ‘n nuwe pad

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  9. Mooka Java says:

    Original Music!! I love Tidal Waves. They play a tight set and keep you dancing and singing along. Keepin’ it real! Aweah 🙂

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  10. gustav says:

    I watch a lot of local live music across all genres. This is the band that always sends me away with a smile on my dial afterwards … definitely my fave live act. I have two albums – not Manifesto yet – but they do not come close to what you experience live with them. Go see ’em, you won’t be sorry!

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