Jiving and Dying


The Radio Rats story directed by Michael Cross.

Beautifully edited, filmed and compiled by Michael Cross in lovely grainy monochrome the film immediately hooks one in from the opening scene and doesn’t let go until the final credits ninety nine minutes later.  It is visual audio delight with a superb soundtrack presented in hi fidelity quality pumping loud from the cinema speakers.

For me the story is about guitarist songwriter Jonathan Handley and vocalist Dave Davies with a diverse cast of characters along the way.  Two very different personalities they share a dynamic when they work together.  I knew Jonathan back in the day and I remember him as a lovely man genuinely into artists like Bowie, Iggy and Lou Reed prescribing but not injecting another girl another planet. 

Dave Davies is a great singer in the vein of Jagger or the other Davies Ray.  My wife says that he reminds her of David Johansen and she got it.  He has an animal magnetism charming in interview and nobody seems to know how he earns a living.

It was great to see the early proto glam punk rock pics but the story really kicks in with ZX Dan one of the greatest South African songs ever, Starman with a country twang and Safrican accent.  It was a massive hit in South Africa and it could have done the same worldwide.  The song was written with the aim of having a hit single and it became their defining moment.

It interests me that they describe their music as pop but that song was their only pop hit.  I guess they scupper their chances by singing about strange quirky subjects like Cyanide Lake.  The other Jonathan, Richman springs (sic) to mind as the closest reference.

And so they became a cottage industry writing and recording many songs with continually changing line ups and name changes and slowly refining and defining their sound and art, the comic art of the bands album covers and posters is very much part of the whole thing.

It is great to see the scenes of the old South Africa towns, and venues and country side, it is a lost time strange and quaint and it is interesting how anything alternative or artistic came out of such an environment yet somehow it seems to happen.

The film is probably the most comprehensive documentary of any single South African music artist or act and probably the best.  It is entertaining but it is also art.   A lot of attention has been paid on the editing and the detail.  Some of the interviews are presented in seemingly uncut form of realism reminiscent of Warhol or Jonas Mekas. 

In the middle of the film some songs display a sixties garage psyche feel of English freakbeat particularly the Creation.  That part blew me away as it is quite an obscure reference and they do it very well.

And whilst not the final song in the film but the song that seems like the end song Perlemoen is a strange one.  It is the song where Jonathan seems to finally fully give in to his South African-ness.

The film is available on DVD as a double pack with a great compilation CD and superb cover art and sleeve notes.  It is a quality package.


Snake Eyes

4871-CW-107-A Michael Fleck - Snake Eyes Wallet

Today sees the release of the Snake Eyes CD on Retrobution Records catalog number RBCD01 .

The album is a partnership between Michael Fleck and Patrick Atkinson.  The album was professionally recorded as a intended big release in the early nineties and remained in the vaults until now.

Michael brought in original song sketches and Pat developed the ideas in the studio over several weekends.  All instruments were played by Pat and Michael sang lead vocals.

They both had experience in bands, Michael most notably in Wild Youth and Pat had recently finished a stint in John Moore’s Expressway a Jesus and Mary Chain offshoot who had supported several respected artists including Jon Spencer’s Pussy Galore.

It is an interesting project covering many styles, a big blasting alternate rock album but also arty, funky and tender in places.  A travelogue part fact and part fictional.

Goodbye Durban hello London America Europe.

Taken direct from the original masters we now give you Snake Eyes presented in a beautiful high quality laminated card wallet sleeve.

The cover features vivid studio portraits intended for the original nineties album.  The artwork was done by Brett Lock and Christopher Houston of the Sighs Of Monsters in consultation with Michael.

The time is right for having fun.




Ingrid Jonker


Ingrid Jonker is an internationally recognized poet whose subject matter included the cause of the poor and lot of black South Africans during the apartheid era.   This year sees the release of “Die Kind Is Nog Jonger” a tribute album of her work featuring contemporary musicians.  I am one of the artists on the album.

The album is being funded by crowd funding.  See link below.


Slapgat ‘n roll



“Slapgat” – a lazy sloppy person, slacker

“Gat” – anus or vagina. 

“Jou ma se gat”means your mother’s ass and is very insulting

 This winter saw the release of the definitive Wild Youth double 180 gram vinyl limited edition of 300.  The set consists of a LP plus 12” EP and the recordings are from best available sources in most cases the original master reel to reels.  The records are housed in a beautiful rustic cardboard outer sleeve with period artwork.

42 minutes long the set is split into 4 distinctly themed sides in great sound quality.

Side 1:  The Wild Youth official releases 1979-1981

  1. All Messed Up (Six Of The Best)
  2. Record Companies (Six Of The Best)
  3. Wot Bout Me (7”)
  4. Radio Youth (7” b side)
  5. Avalanche (unreleased single 1981)
  6. Take Off (unreleased b side 1981)

Side 2:  The post Wild Youth recordings 1987-2015, a selection of songs that continue the spirit of Wild Youth.

  1. Iron Vest (Gay Marines)
  2. Wild Girl (The Retros)
  3. Trash City (Gay Marines)
  4. Time Stood Still (Gay Marines)
  5. Desperate Lives (Gay Marines)

Side 3:  The demo recordings 1979 – 1983

  1. So Messed Up (Wild Youth 1979)
  2. Record Companies (Wild Youth 1979)
  3. So Trendy (Wild Youth 1979)
  4. Action Man (Gay Marines 1983)

Side 4:  The Gay Marines “Fork Tongue” (plays at 45 rpm)

Recorded in 1987 “Fork Tongue” is different in musical style to the rest of the album.  I describe it as “kwela punk”.  The lyrics are a socio political commentary about South Africa of the time.  Listened in hindsight I feel it is as relevant worldwide in 2015 as it was in South Africa 1987.