The gentle giant of Afrikaans rock is back with an unusually structured solo album. Piet Botha’s ‘Die Middernagtrein’ (The Midnight Train) is clearly a singular project even though the backing is provided by his regular cohorts from Jack Hammer.
It is also unusual in that all the songs have relatively few words but each one of those words is clearly supremely personal to Botha, and there is a vast range of complex emotions and feelings generated throughout each song and across the spectrum of the album.
It is not necessary to understand the words or know the meaning behind each song to be drawn into the emotion – and before this sounds like the whole package is music to commit suicide by, let us move on to the second part of the unusual.
The tracks themselves are not shortened by the words, and there is an ebb and flow of accoustic instrospection that builds to a head-banging rock crescendo with each track providing its own unique musical surprise.
Produced by Lanie van der Walt, who also adds his talent as a guitarist to that of Jacques Groenewald, Johnathan Martin, Gerry Robinson and the big man himself on his favourite accoustic guitar called Lucy or trademark pale blue Stratocaster.
Tertius du Plessis provides the bass with Paul van de Waal on drums and Leon van Zweel on saxophone.
“Hier gaan ons alweer
op daai middernagtrein
ek kry hom in Johannesburg
dan kry ek jou in Bloemfontein
vertel my dan van al jou drome
dan vertel ek jou van die hart van ‘n vrou…”
It is a showcase of the prodigious talent that is Piet Botha (and the rest of the guys) and deserves to be listened to again and again – very loud.