Monday, July 11, 2011

The Dynamics

THE DYNAMICS        (RetroFresh)

This album is a compilation of everything The Dynamics released in the Eighties tracks and some tracks from a 1996 "comeback" album Organic! Cherry picking is great because this selection can make the casual listener believe that Organic! has something going for it, when in truth it is a deadly dull album. The real meat in this compilation are the early tracks recorded when The Dynamics was part of a mini-movement of South African bands who, in the face of a debilitating cultural boycott, discovered home grown mbaqanga and jive and mixed these local influences with jazz, funk and ska to produce a unique local product. "Thugs" is one of the great South African singles of the Eighties, and of all times, with a true air of menace and a killer groove, half Booker T & The MGs and half mbaqanga. No other track truly matches "Thugs" for intensity and verve, but they are mostly quite good fun. The Dynamics mutated from an exciting mbaqanga jive inspired band, through personnel changes and 15 years, into a less than exciting jazz funk conglomerate. This band is living proof is that improvement in the quality of the musicianship does not necessarily equate to improvement in the quality of the music. Technical mastery quite often leads to sterility and this is what happened to the Dynamics. The earlies tracks are by far the best. In the end there were no dynamics left at all.


ORGANIC! (TicTicBang, 1996)

Possibly organic, not particularly dynamic. The Dynamics were one of the first local bands to combine jazz, mbaqanga, ska and rock way back in the early Eighties and were by all accounts a very, uh, dynamic attraction then and had a song ("Thugs") that received a fair amount of airplay on the likes of Radio 5 and was popular in Cape Town clubs. The pressures of the struggle years and lack of commercial success in South Africa sent some of the members to the UK and by and by they returned to South Africa in the era of liberation to pick up the pieces of a musical career.. Organic! is the long delayed follow-up to cassette album only releases in the Eighties. The musicians are accomplished and try hard to be funky but they can't hack it. The rhythm section is stodgy, the horn arrangements are lifeless, memorable tunes are non-existent and, suicidally for a band that is meant to be driven by the groove, there is no truly killer jam to mitigate the lack of tunes. The metaphor here is of a band stuck in musical quicksand; the harder they try, the deeper they sink. Good background music for the undiscerning, drunken patrons of bars.


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