Live Jimi Presley were the most dynamic live white band in South Africa in the early ’90’s but they only had a few tracks on compilation albums. The band started out in Grahamstown as Vader Jakob before relocating to Johannesburg and evolving into Manhole in the early ’90’s. Their sound combined elements of punk, post-punk and industrial and one of their greatest influences was Einsturzende Neubauten from Germany.
Live Jimi Presley were essentially a socio-political performance band who used metal percussion like car springs and angle grinders and they had a fire eater who blew balls of flame above the audience’s heads.
In 2016 Live Jimi Presley finally released their eponymous CD themselves and it contains many of their best and most loved songs.
The CD opens with Assumptions with its post-punk-meets-industrial sound which features some nice melodic guitar & keyboards and a few samples. Calculus and Nightware Max remind me of the House Of Love though both tracks get a little heavier in their refrains. Standout tracks include: One Day at a Time which brings Simple Minds to mind, Hog in Armour, Mobile Home (with Juliana Venter)
and live favourite, 69 at Half Past 10. (All 4 of these tracks would have been hit singles if we had an alternative chart in South Africa.).
Song A has a strong dub feel and reminds me of The Fall and Neu; part post punk, part Kraut Rock.
Unger is angry punk/industrial with frantic singing and thrashing guitar and percussion. Zombie is also quite punky with its bass driven beat.
Vorhaut zur Freiheid is pure Einsturzende Neubauten industrial music, frantic and urgent with strong political commentary about fighting for freedom.
Getting back to 69 at Half Past 10, the final track on the CD, it combines all the best elements of Live Jimi Presley and more. The track has a dub beat, throbbing bass and a pseudo sample of the Beach Boys’ Barbara Ann in the refrain, courtesy of special guest Warrick Sony (Kalahari Surfers). The songs starts off with a melodic guitar riff before exploding into a freak-out of note. This includes a Shadow-esqe guitar solo and so much more. Listen to this great track here…
In summing up, this is a classy album by one of south Africa’s greatest live whte bands and their sound translates well to CD. Despite being an industrial band for the most part all Live Jimi Presley songs have strong melody lines and they have a pop sensibility that sets them apart from other bands in that genre.