Back in time for ultimate summer

Susan Ramsay

African beats and retro soundtrack entries add up to a perfect summer holiday

Susan Ramsay |

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I grew up in Durban on the east coast of South Africa. Summer for us was in December and January, but it was met with no less enthusiasm than in the northern hemisphere. I really did have a special group of songs that I would play for summer. Few people in Hong Kong have ever heard of them, but if you search for them, I believe you'll probably find one or two that you want to adopt for your very own playlist.

Rise - Herb Alpert

Let's go way back in history, to the quantum trumpet player Herb Alpert. This takes me right back to my childhood, and listening to my dad's big swing band practices. I don't recall them ever playing Rise, but they certainly played a lot of brass and I still love it today. Rise topped the charts in 1979 and it's still a perfect song for the end of the day, when the sun is on the waves and the dolphins are frolicking in the surf.

Hawaii Five-O theme tune

The Hawaii Five-O theme song has to be the theme song for summer. Sun, sky, sand and surf, it has them all. The music has been dusted off and given a high-octane makeover for the new show. I have to admit to liking the original better, but the new one isn't bad - and has a better video!

Matsuri - Kitaro

Matsuri means "festival" in Japanese, and so this piece is great for getting into a festive summer mood. This is one of the iconic pieces by the maestro.

Dance Sum More - Mango Groove

I defy you to sit still when you listen to this African township jive number from Mango Groove. Your feet starts to twitch, and then you just have to "stand up and dance!" This is a fusion band from South Africa - and they were the only African band invited to perform at the 1997 Celebrate Hong Kong Reunification concert.

Axel F - Harold Faltermeyer

For some reason, the theme song from Beverly Hills Cop just starts a summer earworm. It sets the mood for the heat and humidity, with some funky synthesiser sounds that were in fashion circa 1980s. Axel F dominated the charts in 1985 and has been remixed several times since.

The Heat is On - Glenn Frey

I obviously like Harold Faltermeyer's work. He co-wrote this with Keith Forsey, and it was also part of the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. One thing's certain about the Eddie Murphy action/comedy: the movie might have been awful, but the OST rocked.

Live is Life - DJ Otzi

OK, I can just see you wondering if I like anything from this century. Well, D.J. Otzi's Live is Life - which I always believe should be "life is live" - is kind of my anthem. This song never fails to pick me up. It's better than a triple espresso.

The Magnificent Seven theme tune

When I was a wee lass, we would spend our holidays at a country house. The hotel down the road would show movies every weekend. That makes for a lot of movies, many of which were Westerns. I don't remember much about this particular movie or its remake, but the theme song just seems to sum up all the Western movies I ever watched over those long summer holidays.

Xiger Xiger - Hanggai

And while we're on the subject of horse riders and wide open spaces, I have to put on Hanggai's Xiger Xiger. This is a current indie Mongrock group that has been hailed as one of the best. They were in Hong Kong last year and I caught their concert. I was hooked from the first note. This particular tune is about a galloping horse, and includes the famous khoomi or throat singing.

December African Rain - Juluka

Juluka was my all- time favourite South African band, and the very first concert I ever went to was one of their shows. Led by Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu, the band epitomised the fusion between black and white musicians. The song has haunting lyrics, and so it's fitting that it is the last of my choices. The words are pure poetry, the melody truly African, and the rhythm contagious.

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