Forces Favourites

by End Conscription Campaign

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Pambere - Mapantsula
National Madness - Aeroplanes
Potential Mutiny - Stan James
Numbered Again - The Facts
Shot Down In The Streets - Cherry Faced Lurchers
Don't Dance - Kalahari Surfers
Whitey - The Softies
Don't Believe - In Simple English
Too Much Resistance - Nude Red
Spaces Tell Stories - Roger Lucy
Suburban Hum - Jennifer Fergusson

This compilation was put together in the mid 80’s in conjunction with and to help raise awareness for the End Conscription Campaign. The ECC played an important role in dismantling apartheid by providing crucial emotional and strategic support to those men who rejected conscription on religious or political grounds, as well as acting as a conscientising force for the youth and parents.

How good was the ECC at its task? Ask the experts. General Magnus Malan described the ECC as “just as much an enemy of the Defence Force as the African National Congress.” Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok accused it of being “the vanguard of those forces that are intent on wrecking the present dispensation and its renewal”.

All of the bands featured on this album played at ECC concerts. Though some of them, like The Softies, The Facts and Nude Red weren’t overtly political by nature, the situation in the country couldn’t help but work its way into their songwriting. For other artists like Stan James, Kalahari Surfers, Jennifer Ferguson and James Phillips, reflecting the state of the nation was the dominant feature of their art.

credits

released June 6, 1986

Release information:

1986, Shifty Records (SHIFT10)

Review:
For those of you who don't know/remember "Forces Favourites" was a radioprogramme for "tannie en sussie to stuur groete to boetie who was doing hisbit op die grens. (Or in English for the benefit of our internationalreaders a dedications programme for family to send greetings to the boysfighting on the borders of South Africa).

The ironically titled "Forces Favourites" compilation was an album put outin the 80's with the support of the End Conscription Campaign and featuressome of the strongest political songs of the time.

The album opens with the upbeat jive punk "Pambere" by Mapantsula which issung in Sotho (I think). The tune is great and the word Uhuru keepscropping up every now and then.

The Aeroplanes "Natioanal (sic) Madness" follows and while the tune keepsthe upbeat feel, the lyrics are biting ('National madness, a curse on theland, Jesus is murdered by his own hand'). These 2 opening songs bothfeature some great brass sounds.

The feeling then changes as we move into the darker and at times sinister"Potential Mutiny" by Stan James and "Numbered Again" by the Facts. Thereis a bluesy sound underlying these sombre tracks.

The Cherry Faced Lurchers then dish up a slice of Van Morrison with "Shotdown in the Streets". A great song that has dramatic musical pauses andthen fairly flows to the point where the vocalist is rushing to get thewords out before the next pause. Van would have been proud of this song.

The Kalahari Surfers deliver a harsh synth sound to almost a march beat andfeatures probably South Africa's first white rapping. Samples of thekommandant shouting orders during the musical bridges are used to greateffect.

The raw and punky "Whitey" by the Softies and "Don't Believe" by In SimpleEnglish are both reminscent of the Ella Mental, especially the latter whichfeature a great vocal performance which if it isn't Heather Mac, it soundsa lot like her.

"Too much resistance" by Nude Red opens with a superb sax sound. The songsis vibrant, tuneful yet has a punky/ska edge to it. This to me is the bestsong on the album and had it not been for it's political message cold havebeen a hit.

The album ends with Roger Lucey's "Spaces tell Stories" and the bohemianJennifer Fergusson's "Suburban Hum". Both are tinged with anger, the latteralternating between smokey jazz and experimental jazz. More great sax workon this one.

Overall this a great collection of powerful tunes. The message is no longerrelevant (or is it?) but it's worth listening to for the music alone andsometimes it's good to remember the bad times.

John Samson, SA Rockdigest Issue #81

Notes:

This early release on the Shifty Record label was made in association with the End Conscription Campaign, an organisation that was aimed at trying to stop young South African males from being forced to join the army. The cassette copy of this album that I used to compile this webpage has scant information. It gives the catalogue number and a track listing, but no release year. The albumwas however released sometime in the early to mid eighties. "A Naartjie In Our Sosatie", released in 1985 featured a similar line up of artists.

All info supplied by John Samson, March 2003.

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