Over a relative short period of time The Raiders recorded five albums - The Raiders go Latin, Get Ready with the Raiders, Encore,
Dance 69 and Fuzz Face - for the independent Durban label RAJ Records. The music is primarily guitar-led instrumental pop livened up from time to time with the addition of a fuzz box. All clues seem to point to the Raiders being a working band, hired for private functions in the Indian, Coloured and African communities of Durban and its surrounds.
I managed to track down an article by Yogan Naidoo lamenting today's obsession with Bollywood. This recollection provides wonderful context to the music of the Raiders and other forgotten bands of that era:
"Listen to some of the great dance bands of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s - such as the Crescendos and Dukes Combo - and you'll hear a sound that is still like no other in the world. It is inimitably and spectacularly South African-Indian. Other bands - with names like Sam's Latin Kings, Stepping Stones, the Jets, Kreme, Cheyennes, Blue Ricks, the Santiago Dance Band, Los Pepitos, El Remos and Raiders - also reigned over this era. I recall a sultry Saturday night in the 1970s, when knee-high to a grasshopper, I sat beside my father at a table bearing the heavyweights of the Southern Natal Soccer Board at a Soccer Awards Ceremony at the Himalaya Hotel. With the formalities over, a band called The Blue Jewels commandeered the stage. Like a powerful, orchestrating yet symbiotic organism it amplified, fed off and again replenished the enthusiasm of its audience. They were a tight unit of young South African Indian men who, in all likelihood, would return to exploitative day jobs the Monday after, but for that Saturday night, to Durban's assembled soccer elite, they were the undisputed gods of the dance floor. That night mirrored thousands of others featuring a variety of bands, audiences and occasions at other venues such as the Island Hotel in Isipingo Beach, The Railway Hotel in Isipingo Rail, The Butterworth Hotel in the Durban CBD, the Apollo Nightclub in Sea Cow Lake, the Admiral Hotel in Overport, the Pelican and Sol Namara in Chatsworth, and at the Goodwill Lounge in Victoria Street.
"Playing at rock concerts at Curries Fountain, the Durban City Hall's Battle of the Bands and community halls were rock bands such as Nirvana (well before Kurt Cobain's Nirvana), Atomic Ash, Shackles, a folk outfit called Silver Willow Sterling and many more of that ilk. Inspired by 1960s and 1970s groups such as the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, our bands composed a multitude of original songs with socially conscious lyrics. Because the major record companies of the time were white-owned and goaded by an apartheid mindset, they never considered the anomaly of a South African Indian rock band as a viable option. Our musicians received either no material reward or were paid a pittance for their musical undertakings. Yet, they were driven by an overwhelming passion for their vocation.
"Recently, I met a few of the remaining members of these bands. Their stories, while touched by nostalgia, are still underlined by the pathos of just how much more professionally rewarding their lives as musicians could have been. Decades later, it seems nothing has changed. We, the very community from which they originate, are ignoring their contributions to our musical canon. The Crescendos, for example, was established about 50 years ago in Cato Manor. How then are they not part of our heritage? How is it that not one single celebration commemorating our 150 years in this country ever considered inviting them or any of their peers to share the stage? Unlike Bollywood, we own this intellectual property. No other community in the world can lay claim to this legacy. This is our Buena Vista Social Club*. Along with our strugglistas, our writers and poets - these are my heroes.
"We owe them our respect, reverence, gratitude and recognition."
*I think the Buena Vista reference is pushing it when it comes to the Raiders material on the two LPs we are sharing. But check it out anyway.
Get Ready with the Raiders
Encore (bonus share)