My name is ZX Dan, I am a spaceman
my galaxy is doomed, so I've moved to your moon
turn up your radio, and play me that rock and roll,
stop feeling so blue - as I'm coming down to you.
Meet me tonight at your window, dress warmly for absolute zero
I'll come down as quiet as the snow, and we'll go for a ride in my UFO
The Radio Rats
, one of the mainstay groups of South African rock, is celebrating "40 years of noise", with a tour that will include Montagu on Saturday October 6.
The band was formed in 1977 by songwriter Jonathan Handley (guitar & vocals), Dave Davies on (vocals) and Herbie Parkin (bass) bass, and the 3 of them still make up the core of the band's sound. In 1978, on their way to Satbel StuZX Dan (live at the Radium)dios in Jhb to record their debut album Into the Night we Slide, Jonathan was told they needed a "radio friendly" song for release as a single for commercial radio station playlists. He promptly penned ZX Dan, which went on to reach No.2 on the Radio 5 charts. This song became a long term hit for the band, and according to The SA Rock Digest, is the second most popular song in the "All time favourite SA song" category.
Since the success of Into the Night we Slide, considered by many to be one of the essential SA rock albums ever, the Radio Rats have released a variety of albums, some as home recordings only, but also studio albums like Big Beat (Shifty Records 1991), Night Thoughts (2012), Cyanide Lake (2013) and The Concise Rock 'n Roll Primer (2017). The Rats are currently promoting their latest offering Road Songs, and are preparing for a trip to record in Nashville in 2019. Since the early 90s Gil Marais-Gilchrist has been on lead guitar, and Riaan Esterhuizen joined on drums in 2014.
In 2016 filmmaker Michael Cross released Jiving And Dying, a feature-length documentary telling the 40-year story of the Radio Rats, and simultaneously a "greatest hits" CD, which included another gem out of Jonathan's pen, the Afrikaans song Perlemoen, which talks about the precarious position of fisherman in the cape, while the gangs continue poaching perlemoen, which ultimately only gets sold overseas.
Almal steel perlemoen, almal steel perlemoen
vra vir die poliesman, hier onder in die kaap
I en djy vang perlemoen, I en djy vang perlemoen
maar niemand eet perlemoen, hier onder in die kaap
Nou, die arme ou visterman met sy vrou end kinders doen al wat hy kan
om net paar klein vissies te vang, hier onder in die kaap
want almal steel perlemoen, moet hy 'n permit kry om dieselle te doen?
so gaan dit verby vir elke seisoen, hier onder in die kaap
Perlemoen, perlemoen, waar is jy perlemoen?
daar's niks te kry by Pick & Pay, hier onder in die kaap
die bende kom van Rooidakkies, in elke huis lê daar asbakkies
vir elke asbak het 'n perlemoen afgekak, hier onder in die kaap
This conscientious side of Jonathan is lesser known, although his influence on the SA musical landscape runs deep. Jonathan was mentor to James Phillips, who also grew up in Springs, and went on to become an influential songwriter and musician, well known for recording under a pseudonymn the album Wie is Bernoldus Niemand (1984). This recording kick-started the Afrikaans rock revolution which gained momentum in the late 1980's culminating in the formation of the Gereformeerde Blues Band by Johannes Kerkorrel and Andrè le Toit (now Koos Kombuis), and the subsequent groundbreaking Voëlvry Tour. That album also included a cover of Jonathan's song Welcome to my Car
The Radio Rats still play together whenever they can, even though Herbie now lives in Sweden, Gil in England, Jonathan in Pietermaritzburg and Riaan in Lichtenburg .... at least Dave is still in the same house in Springs that he grew up in! We are fortunate to have the Radio Rats include Montagu on their tour ... they were actually just popping in for a braai and a jam with their old tjommie Hanepoot, but as usual were easily cajoled into sharing their unique brand of rock'n'roll with local music lovers. For the Montagu gig, Jannie Hanepoot will join them on trombone.
The Rats will be at the Groot Appelkoos at MMACC (KWV building) on Saturday Oct 6 at 8pm
Entrance to the gig is R100.
Please bring your own drinks (and your dancing shoes!).
Tickets available at the Montagu Art Gallery (KWV).
+27 82 400 5966
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