Friday, January 11, 2008

Wake Up! (updated 14 Jan)


Gary Khoza, Mike Lebisi, Punka Khoza and Ivan Kadey of National Wake (Pic from Shifty)

Punk bands were a scarce commodity in early 1980s South Africa. So when the mixed-race National Wake, comprising Gerry Khoza, Mike Lebisi, Punka Khoza, Ivan Kadey, Steve Moni and Kelly Petlange announced their arrival with an uncompromising, frenetic and loud debut on WEA Records in 1981, it struck an immediate chord with many people like me searching for any way out of the fucked up place South Africa was. But almost as soon as their debut was out the band members went their separate ways and I didn't get to witness one of their legendary gigs. Recently however I found a vinyl copy of the LP and bought it to replace my worn out cassette and to remind me of the excitement of hearing it for the first time. The vinyl copy is a UK pressing with an additional track - Mercenaries - not on the original South African release. I'm not sure what the full story is but it was usual practice for South African music labels to remove tracks from LPs in order to ensure that they would not be censored. Peter Tosh, UB40, Peter Gabriel and many other artists had tracks removed from their South African released albums.

Lloyd Ross of Shifty Records picks up the story:
The year was l983, and South Africa was on the brink of great convulsions. After 35 years in power, the National Party was growing confused and sclerotic. People in the townships recognized this, and there was a whiff of revolution in the air. The political slogans of the time were “Forward to People’s Power” and so on, but in my subculture, the music subculture, there was also a spirit of “Fuck apartheid, let’s dance,” as the fanzine Vula put it. Young people were ignoring boundaries, listening to each other’s music, playing together. Some even believed it was possible to rock apartheid into oblivion.

Lloyd teamed up with Ivan Kadey to form the independent recording label Shifty Records. For a full background on Shifty Records go to their recently update site and read Lloyds story.


National Wake 1980 - Ivan Kadey, Gerard Khosa, Steve Monie, Panka Khosa (Updated pic from Ivan Kadey)

And heres more from original LP producer Benjy Mudie:
Hi Matt, I had a look at your page..firstly a quick correction -it is Garard Khoza and not Gerry but we called him Gary...Mercenaries was an additional track that we gave to our sister company WEA UK -it didnt make the SA pressing for obvious reasons. In fact if you look at the liner notes you will see the lyrics for International News are missing.This because our lawyers gave us a legal opinion that, in light of the then security legislation, it would have led to the record being banned. So the band and myself made the decision to remove the lyrics -it made no difference as the message got out anyway -mission accomplished ! A few weeks after we released the album i got a personal visit from the SB (Matt: Special Branch = South Africa's notorious police unit) at the WEA office and this record was one topic of discussion with them...we stood our ground ! The Wake didnt really record anything else of substance, there are a couple of demos floating around. I am in protracted negotiations with Ivan Kadey in LA to reissue the record on cd so stay in touch.
regards
Benjy



Pic from Scope magazine (thanks Peter) with an original caption of "National Wake, a group that resisted the pressure to conform"

Ivan Kadey, founder member of National Wake has also been in touch, kindly providing a better pic of the one Benjy sent through and with an idea of the live sound of National Wake. So courtesy of Ivan here's the "Black Punk Rockers" with the original line-up (Gary Khoza, Mike Lebisi, Punka Khoza and Ivan Kadey) recorded live off the mixing board at the Neil Bolitho Benefit Concert, Wits University February 1980.

Black punk rockers smoking dope
with hope to cope
white punk rockers keep their head
and fight for peace to rule
who wants peace now?
who loves war?
let me tell you something
"I crave for your sexy body".

(Khoza Bros, National Wake)
Limited Download




Cover and inserts

As per Benjy's note the South African reissue label RetroFresh has plans to re-issue the LP on CD but until then here are four tracks, including the UK-only and ultra-rare Mercenaries, for you to sample:
Limited download

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

But then Mahlatini was tuning this twenty years earlier with Wozani Mahippi,excellent track Rocking heavely.Check out the album Soweto never sleeps. Samboerou Livingstoned

matsuli said...

Samboerou,
not sure of your point but for even earlier "crossover/recylcing" check Dark City Sisters doing rock and roll with Shala Shala Twist...

matt

Anonymous said...

Mahlatini,was tuning the Hippies the party was in Soweto and not California!

Boima said...

Kind of gives this: http://www.afropunk.com/ new meaning. I'd like to see the international perspective on James Spooner's documentary.

Comb & Razor said...

pretty hot stuff!

Vera said...

Hey I was there!
I met Punka at Wellington road, where the band rented a house. I was 16/17 at the time, and they were the dudes! (I went to the art school in Parktown, and you were really cool if you happened to know and be friends with a black dude then). We stood talking at the gate for a while, I was asking him about his music, cos I had a friend, Wayne Lundi, who had a tape of theirs and I really dug it. It was getting dark, and I knew I'd be in trouble with my mom if I didn't get home, but was embarrassed to say so, so I said that I had to go ‘cos my boyfriend would be waiting for me. He said: “Fuck boyfriends, boyfriends are shit”. I remember Punka for that!

Vera said...

Hey I was there!
I met Punka at Wellington road, where the band rented a house. I was 16/17 at the time, and they were the dudes! (I went to the art school in Parktown, and you were really cool if you happened to know and be friends with a black dude then). We stood talking at the gate for a while, I was asking him about his music, cos I had a friend, Wayne Lundi, who had a tape of theirs and I really dug it. It was getting dark, and I knew I'd be in trouble with my mom if I didn't get home, but was embarrassed to say so, so I said that I had to go ‘cos my boyfriend would be waiting for me. He said: “Fuck boyfriends, boyfriends are shit”. I remember Punka for that!

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afreekai said...

hey how are you i am dumi the member of dread warriors i wanna know what happen with punka khoza cause i here people say thinngs his still alive or he passed away let me know please he was my drumer i miss all of you my friends i am here @ u.s.a touring with vusi we coming back by 2010 this is my cell number (480)246-5548 call me any time is stll dug the music of national wake you still rocking you guys keep up good work peace up

vera said...

afreekai, u on facebook?