South Africa: Tune Me What - Durban's Wild Youth

24 July 2014
ThinkAfricaPress
opinion

In this special extended episode, we are joined by Michael Flek, frontman of the legendary Durban punk band Wild Youth. He brought in his private collection of music and, in between some classics, we are privileged to hear some rare demos and rehearsal recordings.

South Africa in the late 1970s was an incredibly repressed society. For young white men in particular, a 'macho' and militarised attitude was expected. Television had only been introduced in 1976 and was a novelty, and it was against this backdrop that the punk rebels of Wild Youth grew up with their mission - subversive in and of itself - "to be in a band."

We chat about Flek's past at the centre of the South African punk scene in the late 1970s and hear about some exciting re-releases on his record label Retrobution Records which has some fantastic re-recorded and remastered material from the time on offer. Aficionados should waste no time and visit their store for some very limited reissues.

Starting a record company to reissue your own records is quite a dramatic step, although it is testimony to the advances in technology that allow smaller enterprises to release short runs.

Of course, for many - if not most - South African artists, it is a necessary step if you want to preserve anything of your legacy. Having spent time sourcing and compiling Wild Youth material - much of it nearly lost - and compiling a master, Flek teamed up with Benjy Mudie's Retro Fresh label which specialises in re-issuing classic albums which would otherwise disappear.

Like their contemporaries, National Wake (featured in TMW S01E21), Wild Youth has benefitted from a resurgence of interest after being featured in the documentary Punk in Africa. Happily, the impetus to revisit his past has reawakened Flek's creative side. He is back on the music scene having started a new band in London in the UK called Mig21. Check out some footage from their debut performance.

The show also features Flek's post-Wild Youth band the Gay Marines, as well as many other bands from the Durban and South African punk scene, including (but not limited to): The Flames, Via Afrika, The Asylum Kids, Leopard, and Powerage.

Tune Me What? is a podcast and blog by Brett Lock and Leon Lazarus that highlights South African music and artists at home and around the world. For more information, visit tunemewhat.com or facebook.com/TuneMeWhat.

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