Saturday, February 26, 2011

Garage Pop from 1960s South Africa: The In-Vaders and Billy Monk

The In-Vaders

South Africa is one of those African countries, like Mali, Congo and Guinea that seems to be situated on top of a musical lode almost endless in its depth and diversity. Jazz, reggae, Zulu, Funk, R&B and myriad forms of traditional music make South Africa's contribution to contemporary popular music virtually unique.  Today's post brings yet another page in the many-chaptered story of South African music: The In-Vaders.

Inspired by seeing Cliff Richard and the Shadows in his 1961 tour of South Africa a group of friends from the Port Elizabeth area bought a couple of guitars, found a garage and began their journey to become one of South Africa's most successful pop groups.  Struggle, personnel and name changes, endless touring and a self-financed single, finally led to a record deal with Trutone Records in 1967.  With the backing of a label and the confidence of chops developed in the hardscrabble clubs and bars and community halls of the Eastern and Western Cape, The In-Vaders launched a string of hits that kept them in the charts and airwaves for several years. 

The In-Vaders music on this double collection shows their ability to perform pop music of many styles:  Born on the Bayou (garage), Oh Darling (rock) and their mega hit, Shockwave (instrumental).

At the same time The In-vaders were playing the bars and nightclubs, a bouncer named Billy Monk took pictures of the clubs' patrons in many states of happiness, drunkenness, fatigue and boredom.  Monk, never a professional photographer, captured a world that reflects not just a late night bar scene but one where violence and rage is almost palpable.  Indeed, Monk himself was tragically fatally shot  on the streets of Cape Town in the early 80s.  His work has been subject of some critical interest with major exhibitions of his night club photos in several European cities and galleries (click here).

I hope you enjoy the sights and sounds of 1960s nightclubs of South Africa.

Listen here (Disc 1)
Listen here (Disc 2)

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