VAN COKE KARTEL ALBUM REVIEW: ENERGIE EP
When a band has reached the top, and stayed there, they undoubtedly deserve the chance to experiment and surprise themselves as well as fans. For years VCK have considered the idea of a completely alternative album launch, be it solely online or a more up to date physical format like flash drives. Instead, the group jumped back in time and released a crimson vinyl EP exhibiting music from various eras and genres and adapting them to compliment their unique style.
ENERGIE was born.
This 5 track EP is just enough to reduce fans’ undying thirst for their music. Track upon track delivers faultless production, once again by the master Theo Crouse, and untapped energy (no pun intended) as the group get to explore genres otherwise inaccessible to them. This is also the first studio recording with their new drummer, Dylan Hunt, who proves himself worthy with every lash of his drumsticks. He delivers a powerful yet strategic performance and steers clear of overpowering the group with ham-handed bashing.
The title track, Energie, is a classic by Johannes Kerkorrel. The first commentary I heard
was : “The song was shit the first time, now we have to listen to it again?”. I beg to differ. Although music from the Kerkorrel era was more about a message than a melody this song is more than adequately restored. The significance of this song translates well with the group.
Jy moet staan in jou ry Jy moet jou hare kort sny Jy moet altyd netjies bly Jy moet al die pryse kry Jy moet in 'n huisie bly En trou en kinders kry In jou karretjie ry Stem vir die party
Ek sê nee dis ‘n mors
‘n Mors van energie.
From In die Agtergrond (Bloed Sweet en Trane):
Ek moet die rekening betaal
Ek moet ‘n windgat kar kry, ek moet
En hom ry, ek moet
Hulle laat ons loop in ‘n lyn
Hulle laat ons sterker pille sluk, ek moet
En opdruk, ek moet
Kyk hoe lank jy dit kan doen
Nie seker of ek hiervan hou nie
The similarities are uncanny and make this rendition of Energie so prominent.
Track two, Help, is already a fan favorite when it comes to Francois van Coke's solo performances. The recording is even more spectacular as the song really comes to life with a full rhythm section and pitch perfect harmonies. I would have liked to see another Beatles cover though as both Francois and Jedd have shown audiences they can hold their own on this track.
I Got You was certainly a surprise on this track list. This James Brown classic goes down well on any occasion when the tequila has started flowing and the DJ has run out of Guns ‘n Roses songs. They could not have chosen a better sing-along song for this album, I would just have loved to have seen it with their first round of live shows for the album. It is sure to have every ass shaking in the audience by the first beat. Their rendition is not nearly as sexy as the original but fans will feel way more comfortable admitting to knowing all the lyrics when it is played with so much gusto.
Got To Give it Up is a Thin Lizzy classic and VCK didn’t veer far from the original. There is simply a slight tempo change and this forces the listener to focus more on the lyrics and how suggestively personal it is. The members have never been ashamed of shaking the so-called rock ‘n roll lifestyle that is so often destructive and counter productive.
The song progresses form:
He tried hard but his spirit broke
He tried until he nearly choked
In the end he lost his
Bottle drinking alcohol
Tell my brother I tried to write and
Put pen to paper but I was frightened
I couldn't seem to get the words out right
Right quite right
Got to give it up, That stuff
To the more sobering and currently relevant lyrics of:
I've been messing with the heavy stuff
For a time I couldn't get enough
But I'm waking up and it's wearing off
Junk don't take you far
Tell my Mama I'm coming home
In my youth I'm getting older
And I think it's lost control
Mama I'm coming home
The last track has come under some scrutiny and I am also torn on this one. Born to Die was one of Lana Del Rey’s first major releases and is deemed untouchable and holy by many fans. In this case the song is saved by the fact that one assumes not many Lana fans cross over into the VCK fan pool. If you love Lana , you will most likely dislike the song. If you love Francois and have a strong love for his ballads you will be won over by this closing track in a heartbeat.
All round this album shows incredible diversity from each member and the band as a whole. It is daring experiment that is paying off and, if nothing else, fans are left with a beautiful red vinyl to pass on to the next generation of rock n rollers.