Waiting For The Dawn

Big Sky

Released in August 1990 on Gallo Records, catalogue number ASF 3324 (LP) and CDASF 3324 (CD). Re-issued in June 2001 on the Epic label, catalogue number CDEPC 8170. Produced by Kevin Shirley. Mixed by Shelly Yakus at A&M Studios Los Angeles.

Waiting For The Dawn
Waiting For The Dawn (2001 CD re-issue)

This album is epic because of the superb songs. Tracks like ‘Waiting For The Dawn’ (with bagpipes by the Cape Town Highlanders), ‘Slow Dancing’ and the gospel-tinged ‘Power In The Darkness’ captivate the listener.

Brian Currin, SA Rock Digest, July 2001


  1. Waiting for the Dawn (S. Louw) (5:18) single 1990
  2. Blood Money (S. Louw/K. Shirley) (3:41)
  3. Power in the Darkness (T. Robinson/M. Ambler) (4:18)
  4. Forever Love (S. Louw) (3:30)
  5. Diamonds and Dirt (S. Louw) (3:55) single 1990
  6. Downtown (Tom Waits) (3:30)
  7. Shine On (S. Louw) (4:21)
  8. Slow Dancing (S. Louw/K. Shirley) (6:08) single 1990
  9. Home to Stay (S. Louw) (3:18)
  10. Home to Stay (Reprise) (S. Louw) (2:06)
  11. Waiting For The Dawn (Radio Edit) (S. Louw) (3.40) bonus on 1990 CD & 2001 CD re-issue
  12. Here Comes The Night (Bert Berns) (3.53) bonus on 1990 CD & 2001 re-issue


  • Don Laka: Piano, keyboards
  • Robbie McIntosh: Guitar, Slide guitar
  • Rupert Mellor: Accordion, Piano
  • McCoy Mrubata: Sax
  • Steve Newman: Acoustic Guitar
  • Nico Burger: Guitar
  • Jimmy Mngwandi: Bass
  • Steve Louw: Acoustic Guitar, vocals
  • Godla Mgcinga: Drums
  • Honest Rod Nagel: Harp
  • Benmont Tench: Piano, Hammond organ
  • Waddy Wachtel: Guitar
  • Roy Bittan: piano on ‘Here Comes The Night’
  • Cape Town Highlanders (The 1000 Pipers) : bagpipes on ‘Waiting For The Dawn’
  • The Atlantic City Horns: Horns (arranged by Mike Campbell)
  • The Long Street Gang: Backing vocals
Waiting For The Dawn Back Cover
Waiting For The Dawn [2001 Re-issue] Back Cover


Slow Dancing features Don Laka on piano and the collaboration is simply out of this world.
From Big Sky’s debut Album, Waiting for the Dawn, this lively and powerful track was a instant success.

The title, somewhat anthemic track, refers to the South African situation and includes the lines: “People suffer for so long now … We’re still waiting for the dawn / For the sea to wash the sins from our sands.” Good stuff. 

Glynis O’Hara, The Star TONIGHT!

Recorded live at The Little Theatre, Cape Town in 2008,  Big Sky presents Heart & Soul features hit tracks from previous albums as well as unreleased material. Heart & Soul features an acoustic set with slide guitar, harmonica, tea chest bass, percussion, double bass and mandolin, then the band unleashes a full-tilt rocking electric electric set culminating in a blues jam of ferocious power.


SA ROCK DIGEST, Issue #113, 10th July 2001
by Brian Currin

This classic debut album by Big Sky (Steve Louw and Big Sky were the support act for the 1998 Rodriguez tour of SA), originally released in 1990 and for a long time unavailable has now been re-issued with 2 bonus tracks. It is appropriate that this CD should be re-issued on the Epic label, because it is an epic and powerful album, featuring a mix of musical talents from both SA and LA. Mixed by Shelly Yakus (U2, Tom Petty, Dire Straits) and produced by Kevin Shirley (The Council, Springbok Nude Girls, Iron Maiden, Black Crowes), this album features performances from Robbie McIntosh (Pretenders, Paul McCartney), Don Laka, Rupert Mellor (McCully Workshop), Roy Bittan (Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band), Benmont Tench (Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers), McCoy Mrubata, Steve Newman (Tananas) and Honest Rod Nagel (All Night Radio, Blues Broers) to name just a few.

But forget the name-dropping; this album is epic because of the superb songs. Tracks like ‘Waiting For The Dawn’ (with bagpipes by the Cape Town Highlanders), ‘Slow Dancing’ and the gospel-tinged ‘Power In The Darkness’ captivate the listener. This album also includes a great version of Tom Waits’ ‘Downtown’ (with references to “the sugar-man”… hmmm). One of the bonus tracks is a re-recording of a track from All Night Radio’s (Steve’s first band) second album ‘The Killing Floor’ titled ‘Here Comes The Night’ which itself was a cover of the old 1965 Them hit song, which featured a young Van Morrison.

Steve Louw
Steve Louw

The Star TONIGHT! (26 September 1990) New Record Releases by Glynis O’Hara

BIG SKY “Waiting For The Dawn” (GRC) – What a pleasure it is to put on a local rock record of quality. Here Steve Louw, formerly of All Night Radio, has got together a line-up that includes Don Laka (keyboards), McCoy Mrubata (Sax), Jimmy Mngwandi (bass) and Godla Mcinga (drums). Added to this are guitarist Robbie McIntosh (formerly of The Pretenders, now with Paul McCartney), keyboard player Benmont Tench (from Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers) and Roy Bittan of Bruce Springsteen’s band. They recorded a lot in Los Angeles, you see, so all these other okes popped in and just added their bits. Louw’s strengths are downhome hard rocking and heartfelt ballads and it’s here that the record really takes off – in the R ‘n B stunner of “Blood Money” (with the help of the Atlantic City Horns) and in “Slow Dancing” and “Home to Stay”. The last, built on piano, acoustic guitar and accordion alone, is truly beautiful, with a gloriously tear-jerking strings reprise. If you need a cry put this on – and then follow it up with Katie Webster’s “Never Let Me Go” from “Two-Fisted Mama”. You’ll be a mess on the floor for sure.

The title, somewhat anthemic track, refers to the South African situation and includes the lines: “People suffer for so long now … We’re still waiting for the dawn / For the sea to wash the sins from our sands.” Good stuff. And “Power In The Darkness” too, a hot Tom Robinson song, employs a ragged street choir to chant the chorus on a really good arrangement. Robinson was/is a gay/political rights musical campaigner in Britain and the lyrics go thusly: “Freedom to choose what to do with your body / Freedom to believe what you like / Freedom for brothers to love one another / Freedom for black and white.” At times, Louw sounds very much like Lloyd Cole – not a bad thing at all. The weakest point is the cover of Tom Waits’s “Downtown”. The only way to follow that hellish growl is to completely re-invent the song – slow it down, speed it up, change the melody, sing in falsetto, anything. Only don’t do a relatively straight down-the-line copy. It’s OK, but only just. Otherwise, a fine album.

YOU (27 September 1990) NEW SOUNDS by Cornelis Bach

Steve Louw, he of the monster breath with All Night Radio, has somehow transformed himself into Big Sky. There he stands, guitars at hand and a microphone strategically placed. He hops between Studios in distant parts of the globe, surrounding himself with musicians of the stature of Honest Rod Nagel, Nico Burger, Benmont Tench, Steve Newman and Waddy Wachtell. And it works. For the first time in his career Louw’s music really shines through, thanks to his co-producers Kevin Shirley and Shelley Yakus. Big Sky sounds big, even to the point where one can forget about the vocals sometimes being a bit on the thin side. Obvious crowd-pleasers would be the title track, Slow Dancing, Home To Stay and Diamonds And Dirt, but to my mind the track that really declares Big Sky to be an ongoing concern is the rendition of Tom Waits’ Downtown. With ‘Waiting For The Dawn’ Steve Louw really has come into his own.

London-based John Samson gives his own twist on SA music
from SA Rock Digest #169, 2nd September 2002, also appeared on News24.com


There’s an old joke about the guy who sat up all night wandering where the sun went, until it finally dawned on him. ‘Waiting for the Dawn’ is a phrase often used to talk about the hope for a new and better era and the title track on Big Sky’s 1990 debut album talks exactly of this in relation to the slow decline of Apartheid and the historic 1994 elections. Big Sky, for those of you who don’t know is the brainchild ex-All Night Radio man Steve Louw, and the band played alongside Rodriguez during his 1998 tour of South Africa.

Like All Night Radio, Big Sky’s lyrics are concerned with ‘working man’ issues like beer bottle inspired love, being out on the town till the early hours and even the sleazier side of life. The latter is most evident in the cover version of Tom Wait’s ‘Downtown’ with its references to drugs, sleazy sex and booze. Interestingly, my copy of this album is an ex-SABC copy and while it has a little sticker saying ‘Avoid’ by ‘Downtown’, it gives a XXX rating to the title track which I believe means this is the best track off the album to play. Along with the title track there is the politically charged ‘Power in the Darkness’ (a cover of the Tom Robinson song) which contains lines like ‘Freedom for black and white’. It’s quite interesting to note the shift in the SABC’s censorship as the new decade dawned. Sex was still banned, but politics was slowly being allowed to be heard.

Musically this is tuneful rock. There are Springsteen-esque moments
particularly on ‘Shine On’ as well as Dire Straits-y guitars on the gentle and beautiful piano led ‘Slow Dancing’. The Scottish blood in me is stirred by the bagpipes that lend body to the quite magnificent title track while there’s ample opportunity to hone your air guitar skills, and those of you who like to play the air harmonica, try and keep up with the band on ‘Blood Money’.

So you can stay up all night wondering where the sun goes, listening to All Night Radio or as an alternative you can choose to wait for the dawn with this highly polished quality rock album.

And keep your eyes (and ears) open for Big Sky’s new album being released in September.

Listen to the title track from ‘Waiting For The Dawn’ at http://www.samp3.com

John Samson, London, UK


Waiting for the Dawn

It’s a slow train that takes me back to
The dreams and hopes we had when we were young
In the backstreets of the city
People fighting for the hope that just begun

Waiting for the dawn
Waiting for the dawn
In the night sky the stars are shining
On a billion dreams I’ll never know
They hold the promise of this new day
Where people live together

Waiting for the dawn
Waiting for the dawn

People suffer for so long now
Under the cross that shines upon our land
We’re still waiting for the new dawn
For the sea to wash the sins from our sands

Waiting for the dawn
Waiting for the dawn

With our eyes burning our hearts beating
Beating out the sounds of the drum
We sit waiting in the dark night
For the new dawn, the morning sun

Waiting for the dawn
Waiting for the dawn

Diamonds and Dirt

This is a small round world we’re living in
With everybody trying to own everything
Aint got a wife, no home or family
Just got these hands and no one to stop me

Diamonds and dirt
Blood on my face and my shirt
Diamonds and dirt
Ever since Iwas born life hurt
Diamonds and dust
See the blood turn to dust
Diamonds and dust
See the love turn to lust

Got all these bills and no money to pay
the landlord’s going to put me away
Was gonna leave this town anyhow
Well I might as well leave this world now


I was born down and that’s how I’ll die
Got nothing to show and nothin’ to hide
Don’t know where to start
Don’t know where to stop
A few more hours is all I got

Don’t wanna be rich don’t wanna be poor
I don’t want to be anything anymore
Gonna take a woman in my arms
And die tasting her charms


You got a match for me I’ll light the fire
A gallon of gas and a few used tyres
I can hear sirens I can hear drums
I can see heaven and here I come


Slow Dancing

Always slow dancing
With your body close to mine
We’re dancing in circles
On the wings of time

There’s a bird outside calling
I always want you to be free
And a warm wind blowing across the land
Bringing you closer, closer to me

Always slow dancing
I can feel your heartbeat
Slowdancing together
Feel warm in your body heat

There’s a bad moon outside shining
Shining down on the sea
You cast your spell upon me
Till we’re dancing, dancing cheek to cheek

Always slow dancing
I can feel your heartbeat
Slowdancing together
We’re frozen in time

Like the rivers that keep flowing
Bringing water to the sea
We were always moving closer
Now we’re dancing, you’re dancing with me

Home to Stay

Every time that I saw you
With those bloodshot eyes so blue
I swore that I can love you
And that you will love me too

But you never ever noticed
You didn’t seem to care
So I gave you my Zippo
And a heart that you could wear

Now the years have gone by
And some friends have disappeared
I found you in a bar last night
And I wiped away your tears

You asked me what took so long
Where’re you been all these years
Then you showed me my old lighter
Took out the heart that you still wear

Strange how things happen
I would’ve put money on this turning out another way
Now there’s a ring on your finger
And I’m back home to stay

There’s a house down on main street
It’s got a dog in the yard
A leather jacket on the bedpost
Red roses in a vase

9 thoughts on “Waiting For The Dawn

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