Monday 10 March 2014

Rock Party with the Vikings at the Club Pepsi (1959) b/w Rock 'n Roll (c1962)

The album Rock Party at the Club Pepsi from 1959 is acknowledged to be the first LP by a South African rock and roll group The Vikings (an earlier 10" LP  Flying High by Cherry Wainer and Nico Claasens is the first rock and roll album by South African musicians). Whilst at electricjive we have earlier featured rock and roll infused jive, mbaqanga and twist (see The Bogart Brothers , Rock Jive 1, Rock Jive 2 or the earlier compilation African Twist from the old matsuli site) this album represents what white teenagers were listening to in the late fifties and early sixties. Perhaps no surprise that the tunes are mostly a local interpretation of what was happening in the USA and Europe with few nods to local influences. Except perhaps to kwela in the tracks Send Thomas Kwela and Kwaai ("Cool") Kris Kwela. 

And some interesting details about the band - the bassist with the Vikings is none other than Harry Miller, who later played with Manfred Mann. Harry left South Africa for England to take up contract work playing on cruise ships on the Liverpool-New York passage and then got the jazz bug having heard Coltrane, Taylor and Monk for the first time in NYC. Back in the UK he worked with Mike Westbrook, Mike Osborne and John Surman and by the time the Blue Notes arrived in the UK he was fully established. With his wife Hazel, Harry started the still operating Ogun record label. Chris McGregor chose him for his band The Brotherhood of Breath and he also played with numerous other European free jazz musicians. The vocalist with the Vikings is Al Bentley, at one time named South Africa's rock king who went on to play with The Silhouettes and the Hi-Riders before moving to Perth Australia in the mid-sixties (on a personal note I discovered that Al Bentley was my mothers' cousin about ten years ago). The pianist is Paul Ditchfield who has had a long career in the music industry in South Africa.

Rock Party at the Club Pepsi with the Vikings (RCA 31 323, 1959)
1. Intro-Rock around the Clock- Royal Garden Blues
2. Blue Paul
3. Send Thomas Kwela
4. Now is the Time
5. Lonesome Road
6. Intermission Riff
7. Vivacation
8. Kwaai Kris Kwela
9. Jenny Dog
10. Caravan
11. Kansas City
12. Jumping with Symphony Sid

The second album is undated but appears to have been released around 1962 and features six rock and roll groups popular at the time. 

Rock 'n Roll (Renown NLP196, c1962)
1. Guitar Boogie - The Silhouettes
2. Bouncing Halos - The Blue Angels
3. Send Me Some Loving - Al Bentley and the Silhouettes
4. Birks Works - The Cavaliers
5. Baby You Said No - The 5 Teens with Brian Stein
6. Boiler Shop - The Rousers
7. Asteroid - The Silhouettes
8. Rocking Angels - The Blue Angels
9. Money Money - The Rousers with Tony Blight
10. You Break Me Up - The Big Horns
11. Bull Fight - The Cavaliers
12. When the Saints Go Marching In - The Big Horns

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