Punk In Africa presents a "documentary mixtape" featuring rare and unreleased live and demo recordings by pioneering South African multi-racial punk-reggae band National Wake, unused audio outtakes from the PIA archives and rare recordings by some of the numerous South African bands related to or inspired by the band's legacy.
National Wake were one of the most striking and influential bands to emerge from the first wave of alternative music in South Africa. Drawing on diverse roots in township soul, protest folk, counterculture rock and the local tradition of guitar-based jazz, and further inspired by their discovery of roots reggae and punk rock in the aftermath of the Soweto Uprising, the band explored a sound that was entirely unique in the South African rock scene of the time. National Wake formed in 1978 around the core of Ivan Kadey, a radical architecture student and veteran of the Johannesburg underground folk culture, and the brothers Gary and Punka Khoza from Soweto, who had grown up in the township soul circuit of the early 1970s. Bassist Gary had been a teenage star in hit band Flaming Souls before tutoring his younger brother Punka on drums under the auspices of local funk band The Monks. The band also included at various times as additional members the Sotho percussionist and street character “One-Eyed” Mike Lebisi, original lead guitarist Paul Giraud, jazz saxophonist Kelly Petlane and experimental slide guitarist Steve Moni, formerly of Cape Town-based Safari Suits and the Jonathan Handley power-pop side project Popguns.
In 1979 National Wake joined forces with the first South African punk band Wild Youth along with New Wave acts Safari Suits and Housewives Choice for the ill-fated Riot Rock tour, which foundered when some venues refused permission for National Wake to play as a multi-racial band. Already living in a communal house in Johannesburg, the band retreated from the conventional network of rock clubs to play at various township discos and rural homelands around the country, becoming almost entirely self-sufficient in the process. In 1981, their self-titled album was released by WEA under the auspices of SA music industry figure Benjy Mudie but was quickly “gazetted” by the apartheid authorities due to its radical content, and the band folded under almost continual petty harassment from the authorities.
After the demise of National Wake, the band’s members remained active for a time on the local music scene before eventually dispersing around the world. Gary Khoza went on to play with early-80s activist ensemble Malopoets, while Punka formed South Africa’s first true reggae band, Dread Warriors, which continued to perform Wake material. Mike Lebisi also featured some of the unreleased Wake repertoire on a solo album he released under the name Michael LBS. Ivan Kadey co-founded the influential Shifty Music label and helped build their mobile studio by using some of the Wake’s travelling sound equipment, used throughout the rest of the decade by Warrick Sony of Kalahari Surfers to record some of the most interesting and independent music in the country. Both Gary and Punka developed long-term relationships with members of post-punk band The Pantsulas (later Mapantsula) while the alternative scene based along Johannesburg’s Rockey Street during the mid-80s featured several multi-racial post-punk bands operating along similar lines as National Wake, notably Two Tone-style township jive band The Dynamics and Afrikaans agit-prop outfit KOOS. The direct influence of National Wake can also be heard in the incorporation of dub and funk basslines, Southern African guitar styles, protest lyrics, and proud use of African imagery in many bands of the politicised alternative music scene which followed, from the angular post-punk of Gay Marines to afro-rock fusionists Kabasa to the subversive afro-pop of Via Afrika.
The National Wake album was re-released in 2011 and is available from Retro Fresh (http://freshmusic.co.za/retrofresh.htm#nationalwake) or for download through amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/National-Wake/dp/B004YFNS9W).
1. National Wake - Black Punk Rockers
2. Craig Duncan intro (from Czech Radio documentary, 2009)
3. Mike Lebisi with National Wake - Corner House Stone
4. Ivan Kadey on origins of National Wake
5. Flaming Souls – Cracking
6. The Monks – Blockhead
7. Ivan Kadey on the sound of the band and punk rock / National Wake early live material
8. Wild Youth - Record Companies (demo)
9. Safari Suits - South African in Paris
10. Popguns - Home Address Burning Road
11. National Wake - Everybody Loves Freedom (live in Rockey Street, Johannesburg, 1979)
12. Benjy Mudie on the National Wake album / National Wake – Mercenaries
13. National Wake - International News
14. National Wake – Stratocaster
15. Ivan Kadey on demise of band / National Wake – Queen Victoria
16. National Wake – Supaman
17. National Wake – Walk In Africa
18. National Wake – Nothing in this World (live at the Chelsea, Johannesburg, 1981)
19. Deon Maas on importance of National Wake / National Wake – Vatsikateni
20. Dread Warriors – I and I
21. Michael LBS - Africa’s Request
22. Malopoets – Madoda
23. Warrick Sony on 1980s anti-apartheid music
24. Kalahari Surfers – Reconnaissance
25. Mapantsula – Pambere
26. The Dynamics – Siyabonga
27. Gay Marines - Fork Tongue
28. Kabasa - Burning Splinters
29. Via Afrika - Caprivi Strip
30. KOOS - Is Jy ‘n Moegoe?
31. National Wake v Kalahari Surfers - Bolina (DJ Zhao Dubstrumental Edit)
32. Lesego Rampolokeng with Kalahari Surfers – Johannesburg
compiled, selected and mixed by Keith Jones (Prague, CZ) and Craig Duncan (Accra, Ghana)