14 Songs, 1 Hour 10 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Listening to this reissue is a lot like hearing studio tracks, demos, and live recordings of a beloved underground band from back in the day. In this case, you’d be right if the band were a biracial one clandestinely performing in apartheid-era Johannesburg, South Africa. The studio material comes from an album that sold 700 copies before the government insisted it be withdrawn, effectively putting an end to the band. Politics aside, National Wake's postpunk music—which also contains elements of reggae, dub, blues, and African music—has a feel of The Police, The Jam, and The Clash. (Lyrically, these folks weren’t pulling any punches.) The band is most concise and punky on tracks like “International News,” “Mercenaries," and “Walk in Africa,” but some of the more unique things happen in the conscious reggae of “Corner House Stone” and the soul grooves of “Wake Up the Nation.” Some reissues seem like vanity projects, but Walk in Africa 1979-81 truly spreads the word about an important band that was far ahead of its time.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Listening to this reissue is a lot like hearing studio tracks, demos, and live recordings of a beloved underground band from back in the day. In this case, you’d be right if the band were a biracial one clandestinely performing in apartheid-era Johannesburg, South Africa. The studio material comes from an album that sold 700 copies before the government insisted it be withdrawn, effectively putting an end to the band. Politics aside, National Wake's postpunk music—which also contains elements of reggae, dub, blues, and African music—has a feel of The Police, The Jam, and The Clash. (Lyrically, these folks weren’t pulling any punches.) The band is most concise and punky on tracks like “International News,” “Mercenaries," and “Walk in Africa,” but some of the more unique things happen in the conscious reggae of “Corner House Stone” and the soul grooves of “Wake Up the Nation.” Some reissues seem like vanity projects, but Walk in Africa 1979-81 truly spreads the word about an important band that was far ahead of its time.

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About National Wake

The National Wake were a mixed-race punk band in the township of Soweto in South Africa between 1976, and 1981. The band grew out of the student uprising in Soweto in 1976 through a series of loose jam sessions during the commune explosion of that year. Founded by Jewish immigrant Ivan Kadey, and the rhythmsection comprised of two Soweto-born brothers, Gary and Punka Khoza, and guitarist Steve Moni, the band played its own mix of punk, reggae, and township-inspired funk. They released one album in 1981, which sold a little more than 700 copies. Due to pressure from the apartheid regime that refused the group permission to play in public, the recording itself was eventually withdrawn. Given the oppression, the band split that year, but their influence had already spread to dozens of emerging bands from Johannesburg. Outside their native country, the National Wake languished in obscurity until the documentary film Punk in Africa led to their rediscovery. Kadey, an architect who emigrated to Los Angeles, reissued the band's lone recording in 2011 in South Africa (the Khoza brothers were deceased by this time), and through the web and social media, let others know there were 20 other tracks left in the can. In 2013, Light in the Attic issued the the album with bonus material. ~ Thom Jurek

ORIGIN
Soweto, South Africa
GENRE
Rock
FORMED
1979

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