21 February 2013

Gene Rockwell - Don't Leave Me Now

Label: Continental
Year of Release: 1965

South Africa bred a large number of stars within its music scene who failed to cross over to the rest of the world's charts, and Gene Rockwell was one such scamp. Based in the town of Krugersdorp, Gene initially plied his trade as a bluesman in the group The Falcons before striking out on his own to have a huge hit with "Heart" in his home country in 1965.  That track is still a favourite within those borders (I'm assured) and can be heard on Youtube.

Nestling away on its flipside, however, is this beaty number which is filled to the brim with twangy guitars, moody vocals and a shuffling garage sound, in wild contrast to the commercial balladry on the A-side.  It's admittedly not quite as radical or punkish as I'm perhaps making it sound, having a touch of the Cliff Richards about the clean production, but his blues roots are more prominent on this side and showcase his talents to a much stronger degree.

Sadly, Rockwell passed away in 1998 at 53 years of age, but remains fondly remembered by many South Africans.

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