Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

5 September 2014

South Africa: Shifty September - Celebrating a Unique Guerrilla Musical Legacy

Photo: Shifty Records/Facebook
Shifty Records

analysis

In the early 1980s, a small graphic of a caravan parked on a vinyl record was the logo of the pioneering, independent record label, Shifty. It came to represent the musical hopes and dreams of a generation of South Africans. Thirty years later the Shifty September Festival, culminating in a concert on September 24, will pay homage to a remarkable generation of musical activists and those who recorded them.

"New morning, new morning

Old ways get away

But here in my cradle

I lie incapable

I'm a white boy who looked at his life gathered in his hands

And saw it was all due to the sweat of some other man

That one who got shot down in the street"

- James Phillips - Shot Down in the Street, 1984 -

It was the worst of times politically but musically, it was the best of times. In the early 1980s, as bombs exploded in cities and rebellion reached fever pitch in the country's townships, a young man with a caravan and a plan embarked literally on musical journey that ultimately resulted in a treasure trove of the best resistance music ever recorded in South Africa.

It all...

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South Africa's Shifty Records Turns 30

Shifty Records

September marks thirty years since South African record label Shifty Records was founded. To mark the occasion, local artists are set to perform at the Shifty September Festival, ... Read more »