Tuesday, July 30, 2002

"Paradise Road" by Joy - 1980 [download the mp3]

"Paradise Road" was number one for nine consecutive weeks in 1980 in South Africa. It's a huge power ballad sung by Felicia Marian, Thoka Ndlozi and Anneline Malebo.

In my series on South African music, I intend to focus on crossover music - a hybrid of African and western sounds. "Paradise Road" is pure white bread - there's nothing black about this, apart from the power of the women's voices. However, the song does represent a key moment in the acceptance of black artists on the white charts. While this wasn't the first song by a black group to top the South African charts, it was perhaps the first mainstream middle-of-the-road one. Songs by black artists had made the "white" chart before, but they had usually been seen as 'black' music, as 'novelty' hits, almost as foreign records - "Mama Tembu's Wedding" from the Ipi Tombi soundtrack, for example.

"Paradise Road" is an enduring SA classic - it was recently selected for the South African version of "Pop Idol". The song was co-written by Patric Van Blerk who had a finger in so many, many South African records of the late seventies and early eighties. He was like South Africa's Pete Waterman. [He also spent much of the late eighties trying to get me into bed, buttering me up by telling me he could make me a star, that I looked just like Morten Harket. It didn't work!]

Let me know what you think of this song. Buy South Africa CDs online at oneworld.co.za.

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