Friday, 24 April 2009

Going Fishing

I am going on holiday tomorrow so this will be the last post for ten days or so.

I am off to Spain to stay in the decaying villa of a down on his luck minor English aristocrat, so thought it appropriate to leave you with some music from Spain. But this is not Spanish music - Ruper Ordorika is a Basque and Joan Manuel Serrat a Catalan, and they sing in their respective languages. Here is one of each.

Ruper Ordorika - "Alberto Caeiroren Bizita"

Joan Manuel Serrat - "Els Falziots"

I have been to Spain a number of times before. But not everybody has:

I will be taking down all the February links when I get back so fill your boots while you can. And there will be lots of exciting new stuff - my new Tsonga Disco CD should have arrived by then, and I'll have to plan some special Eurovision feature in the run up to the big day on 16 May. So stay tuned!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Birthday Bard

Tomorrow is Shakespeare's birthday, so to mark the occasion here are Michael & The Messengers with the garage-tastic "Romeo And Juliet":

At this point I had hoped to revive the irregular "naff 1980s pop" slot with a clip of B A Robertson doing "To Be Or Not To Be", but sadly I couldn't find one. So here is David Essex with "A Winter's Tale", twinkling more than the lights on the Christmas tree:

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Friends of a Friend

I am now a Facebook Friend of David Olney.

After my recent post about Barry Marshall-Everitt, Mr F sent me a list of Barry's Facebook Friends - see the comments on:

David Olney is on that list. I once bought him a pint after a gig in London which I reckoned made me just about his best mate by Facebook standards. So I contacted him and he agreed. I have not exactly joined an exclusive club - there are 550 of us and rising - but I am proud to be there in between Monty Hobratschk and Sheila Hopkins Hoeppner*.

Monty and Sheila, while no doubt lovely people, are not names I recognise (and in Monty's case not a name I can spell). But there were plenty of others on there I had heard of and long admired. Here are two of them.

Vince Bell - "Best Is Yet To Come" (from "Texas Plates", 1999)

Kevin Montgomery - "Another Long Story" (from the album of the same name, 2000)

And here is a video of my mate Dave himself performing "Big Cadillac":

* The astute amongst you may have noticed that Goggins does not fit alphabetically between Hobratschk and Hoeppner and jumped to the wrong conclusion. To clarify - Ernie Goggins is my real name, but for Facebook purposes I use a ridiculous pseudonym to avoid being pestered by sad individuals wanting to be my friend on some flimsy pretext. Mr Olney might want to consider doing the same.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Today's post is brought to you by the Letter K

The only thing today's tracks have in common is that all the performers begin with the letter K. And for that reason alone this post is dedicated to Kat at "Keep the Coffee Coming", one of the brightest stars in the blogging firmament.

First up is some 1970s Korean pop from Kim Jung Mi. According to whatever blog I found this on originally - apologies to them for not giving them proper credit - the title translates in English as "Mi Ga Na Da Ka Ma Ba, My Loving Korean Alphabet". I say "English" is the loosest sense of the word.

Next is one of my favourite Afrikaans troubadours - there are several, honest - Mr Koos Kombuis. This is a rocking, reggae-tinged number called "'n Kaartjie van Koos", taken from an album he made with Valiant Swart (he is one of the other ones). The title translates as "A card from Koos", and it is an extended apology to a young lady of his acquaintance. I won't translate the much-repeated line "Ek weet ek was a doos" directly as the last word is a bit rude, but the gist of it is "I know I was an idiot".

And finally, some 1970s Swedish folk-rock from Kebnekajse. I don't know much about them other than that they were named after the highest mountain in Sweden. I found a "best of" compilation for a couple of pounds in a street market in London a few years ago, but all the liner notes were in Swedish. Anyway, this particular song is called "Rattvikarnas Ganglat" and features a lady gargling. That is what sold it to me.

How kontrived.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Van The Man Live!

Last night I was at the Royal Albert Hall to see a great show by Van Morrison - one 75 minute normal set followed by "Astral Weeks" in its entirety.

It has been a few years since I have seen him and apparently in that time his performances had become a bit perfunctory. If that was the case it certainly didn't apply last night. He seems to have got his groove back. He even laughed at one point, which was a little unnerving.

One of the many highlights was "Queen of the Slipstream" from his "Poetic Champions Compose" LP. Here is a version by Son Seals:

That is from the appallingly titled "Vanthology", released in 2003. Fortunately the album is much better than the title, and takes the simple idea of getting some classic soul and blues singers into the studio to interpret Van. Generally it works very well and for me it was a real treat to hear some of my favourite singers - people like Otis Clay and William Bell - adding their great voices to songs by the man I consider the all-time number one.

The second selection from the album is Little Milton's version of "Tupelo Honey":

And finally here is the man himself performing "Sweet Thing" at the Hollywood Bowl version of the same show. His production company seem to have put the whole show up on YouTube but this is the only number that doesn't have an annoying "VM" logo superimposed over the action. Needless to say I'll be looking out for the DVD.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Tsonga Disco (3)

Exciting news on the Tsonga Disco front. My collection is about to double in size.

I have ordered two more CDs from the excellent South African online music store One World. There is a link to them in the right hand column and if you like the South African stuff I have posted up to now I would encourage you to investigate further. The postage costs are pretty steep - presumably because they don't feel able to entrust delivery to the South African postal service - but the CDs are very reasonably priced so the overall cost works out OK (at least from the UK with the current exchange rate).

I have ordered another Joe Shirimani CD and one by Thomas Chauke. Mr Chauke is apparently one of the biggest names in traditional Tsonga music, having recently released his 29th album. Whether traditional Tsonga music bears any resemblance to Tsonga Disco I don't know, but we'll find out soon. I will post some tracks from both CDs when they arrive.

But to keep you going in the meantime here is a track apiece from the two CDs I have already.

First is Joe Shirimani with "Marabastad 2". This album - Miyela - is available from One World.

And next is Madlaks with "Ndhlo Ndhlo" (and before you start bombarding me with e-mails on the subject, the answer is yes - this is the remix tagged on to the end of the album, not the original version. I'm surprised you need to ask)

As with my previous Tsonga Disco posts we finish with a Joe Shirimani video from YouTube. This one is "Ncomani". This appears to be the last of his videos on there, so we may need to think of something else for next time.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Shondells Soul And Soca

Mary at work has very kindly given me a load of recent soca mp3s. I used to listen to soca a lot in the 1980s but with the modern stuff I’m afraid I find myself muttering that it all sounds the same to me – and in truth it was heading that way 20 years or so ago after the advent of what Chalkdust called “two chords and Leston Paul”.

Having said that there were a fair few gems in Mary’s selection, and one song in particular stood out as being very catchy and naggingly familiar. After a few listens it eventually dawned on me that the reason it sounded familiar was because they had nicked the tune for the chorus from “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James & The Shondells. And they even gave it a title that rhymed as a clue. So here is “Wine And Bend Over” by Ghetto Flex and Denise Belfon.

I have a few other Tommy James covers dotted around my collection. One of the better ones is this laid-back soulful remake of “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by The Kelly Brothers.

We'll leave you with a clip of Mr Flex and Ms Belfon wining and, in her case, bending over. If you have a nervous disposition you may want to skip the bit starting at 0:33.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Dizzy Dutchmen

My long standing readers – you both know who you are – may recall my mentioning a visit to Amsterdam a couple of months ago. While there I went “crate digging” (as I believe the young people call it) at a local street market, and acquired a dozen or so Dutch 7” singles from the 1970s. Well I finally got round to listening to them over Easter, and sadly most of them are rubbish.

The one exception is “A Matter Of Facts” by Dizzy Man’s Band, which was apparently a top five hit in 1971 in the Netherlands. It reminds me very much of “Vehicle” by The Ides of March, and they were clearly influenced by early Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears. Here it is.

I bought another of their singles at the same time - “Turkey Turkey” from 1975. It is a tribute to the country not the bird. It starts off quite promisingly with a slightly psychedelic Turkish sound, but then rapidly deteriorates with lines about how “swimming in the Bosphorus is smashing” and the joys of eating shish kebabs. If you don’t behave yourselves I will post it up here some time.

Judging by this clip of "The Opera" from the same year, the Dizzies deterioration continued unabated. How very sad.

Monday, 13 April 2009


Beer. Personally I never touch the stuff but apparently it is quite popular. And it appears to have been for some time, as one of the classic English folk songs is all about the short and eventful life of John Barleycorn and how he did not die in vain.

There are many versions of this song. To any old hippies out there you probably think Traffic's version (the title track of their 1971 LP "John Barleycorn Must Die") is the bee's knees. But bees have room for many knees, such as Tim Van Eyken's version from 2006. Here they both are.

Of course if you want a song about the adverse effects of an excess of the juice of the barley you really need to look to the honky tonk singers. In my opinion there was none better than the late, great Gary Stewart. Here he is in the early 1970s with "Drinking Thing", being introduced by Charley Pride and a man with a beard (any ideas?)

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Triple Dose of Dion

Today's post is a tribute to one of my all time heroes, Dion. Best known for his early hits like "The Wanderer" and "Runaround Sue", he is - possibly uniquely - still making good records after more than 50 years.

I did think of saving this for his 70th birthday in July but then it occurred to me that: (a) that would require rather more planning than I'm capable of; (b) I can always post some more stuff on the day itself if we aren't all bored with 27 Leggies by then; and (c) thinking it matters suggests I am beginning to take my self-appointed role as taste-maker to the world rather too seriously [Note: one of the signs that people are taking themselves too seriously is when they start talking about themselves in the third person. Let me assure you now that Ernie Goggins will never do that.]

I can't really do justice to Dion's career, but a brief potted history reads something like:
  • doo-wop with the Belmonts, releasing their first record in 1957. Already a heroin addict by this point;
  • toured with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper but decided not to get that plane;
  • went solo in 1960 and had a few years of pop success;
  • showed first signs of musical adventurousness by releasing a blues album in 1964, before things start to stall;
  • gets clean and returns as a folkie in 1968 with the first recording of "Abraham, Martin & John", following this up with a series of excellent records through to the early 1970s;
  • releases the Phil Spector-produced "Born to be with you" album in 1975;
  • releases a series of Christian albums in the early 1980s;
  • has a bit of a mainstream comeback with the excellent "Yo Frankie" in 1989, the same year in which he was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame;
  • a bit of a gap until "Deja Nu" in 2000, and then a series of blues albums in recent years.
Here are three songs from different stages of his career:
  • "I Was Born To Cry", a minor US hit in 1962;
  • "Gotta Get Up" from 1971's "Sanctuary" LP; and
  • coming right up to date, "The Thunderer" from 2007's "Son Of Skip James" LP

If that whets your appetite there is an excellent 3-CD boxed set called "King Of The New York Streets", although I'm not sure if it is still available except through the likes of E-Bay. In addition most of his 1970s albums have been reissued in "two LPs on one CD" format by Ace Records. There is also an excellent DVD of the Great Man doing the hits and more live in Atlantic City in 2004.

Here he is in 1990 doing "The Wanderer", backed by Dave Edmunds and band. Fantastic.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

The End of February

I'll be taking down all the links from February next Friday - with the honourable exceptions of the Tsonga Disco tracks (Madlaks and Shirimani) - so this is your last chance to grab such delights as James McMurtry, Kelly Hogan, Tsepo Tshola and reggae versions of Four Tops songs. They are all in here:

Friday, 10 April 2009

A Little Bit Of Religion

I am indebted to Mr F for drawing my attention to this article about Anna Nobili (or, as I think of her, the future Mrs Goggins):

I have always had a bit of a fondness for nuns - it is probably a combination of them being unattainable and a bit of a uniform fetish. But even I had never envisaged a lap-dancing nun.

This bad habit (ho! ho!) has occasionally got me in trouble. About twenty years ago me and the lads were on a tour of Italy. We arrived in Pisa to discover that the Pope - the proper one, not this one they have at the moment - was in town to do a gig that night. So we went along, of course. As you would expect the crowds were many rows deep and we didn’t have a great view as the Popemobile came down the road towards us. Behind us there were a gaggle of nuns who, being generally pretty short, could not see a thing. This didn’t seem right to me, what with him being their boss and everything, so I asked one of them if she wanted to sit on my shoulders. The next thing I knew I was being slapped and shouted at by her irate Mother Superior.

In hindsight I realise that my offer, although well-intentioned, was inappropriate. And it probably didn’t help that Conical and I looked like this:

Sadly I have no songs by nuns, so here instead are The Monks with “Cuckoo”:

And to finish off, here is a clip of The Singing Nun performing a 1980s disco remake of her big hit, “Dominique”. Which is just as bad as it sounds. And she’s not even wearing the uniform.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Ladies' Night 1979

My friend Chuck was in his time the bass player with the near legendary Barry Normal & The Camels. His bass playing was often compared with Jah Wobble (though less often favourably). Anyway I got an e-mail from him today in which he mentioned prag VEC, and this prompted me to dig out their 12" EP from 1979. Today's first selection comes from that EP: "Expert"

From there it seemed a natural step to dig out "Danger Signs" by Penetration from the same year.

Of course prag VEC and Penetration weren't the only bands with female vocalists that were blazing new trails through the musical firmament in 1979:

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Borderline Barry is Back!

Barry Marshall-Everitt may not be a name much known outside of the insiders, but for many years he was one of the unsung heroes of the London music scene. When he was the booker at the Borderline off Charing Cross Road there was a constant stream of excellent live acts, and it became a regular haunt. Since he left a couple of years ago I have barely been back - there just isn’t the quality there was.

The good news is that Barry is back. The Fridge in Brixton is going to start promoting live music again for the first time in many years, and they have taken Barry on as head booker. The first gigs are expected in June or July, all being well.

To celebrate this good news I thought I would post something that reminded me of a memorable Borderline gig. The problem has been narrowing it down. There was Tom Russell (many times), Robbie Fulks, The Seeds, North Mississippi All Stars, The Creekdippers featuring Victoria Williams playing a banjo with a wah-wah pedal, Southern Culture on the Skids getting women on stage to throw fried chicken at the audience, and the time David Olney played for an audience that consisted of me, Mr F and the support act. And many more.

In the end I settled on The Holmes Brothers - probably the best bar band in the world - and their fantastic rendition of “Love Train”. The studio version doesn’t quite do it justice but is still pretty great.

And here is a clip of them doing Hank's "I Saw The Light":

Monday, 6 April 2009

Mpharanyana on Monday (10)

This is the tenth and, for the moment at least, last instalment in my ongoing attempt to bring the work of Mpharanyana - South Africa's premier soul singer of the 1970s - to a wider audience (all 317 of you*). So let's go out with a song promoting peace and unity: "Let's Live Together".

If you have missed any of the previous instalments and want to catch up I have put all ten tracks in a folder for you to save you having to rummage around:

Mpharanyana on Monday will be back later in the year.

* it is probably nearer to 275 if you take out the "visits" that are me checking in at work, but I count them on the grounds that, in a very real sense, we are all different people in our work and home environments (also it makes the total number of visits seem slightly less puny).

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Fela And Hugh

Yesterday we featured a couple of the people who influenced Fela Kuti. Today we have Hugh Masekela's tribute to him, called simply "Fela".

And here is one of Hugh's videos:

Saturday, 4 April 2009

From Norfolk to Nigeria

As a bridge between yesterday's post and Monday's burst of Mpharanyana - which incidentally will be the last for a while (although he'll be back later in the year after a well-deserved rest) - today we visit 1960s Nigeria where people were getting up to all sorts of funkiness.

First up is Orlando Julius with "James Brown Ride On". This is from the album "Super Afro Soul".

Next is Geraldo Pino & The Heartbeats with "Let's Have A Party" from the album "Heavy Heavy Heavy". He was originally from Sierra Leone but moved to Port Harcourt in Nigeria in the 1960s and remained there until his death last year.

Both these albums are available to download on EMusic, and the Geraldo Pino one is also on iTunes.

Both Orlando Julius and Geraldo Pino were apparently early influences on Fela Kuti. Here is the man himself in concert. The clip is not the greatest quality but it is about the only one I could find.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Funky Norfolk

To get us into the mood for the weekend here are some funky sounds from Norfolk, Virginia. They are from a compilation called “Ol’ Virginia Soul: Encore” that I bought at the Virginia State Library in Richmond on a visit there a couple of years ago – much more impressive than my local library. It is one of a series of three compilations of obscure 1960s and 1970s soul from Virginia. They are all available from along with a lot of other Virginia themed goodies like a four volume collection of garage and psych called “Aliens, Psychos And Wild Things”, featuring the likes of The Perpetuated Spirits Of Turpentine, which I really must save up for.

Anyway, first up is The 35th Street Gang with “I Was Born To Be A Drummer”:

And second up is the magnificently named Little Wink & Eddie’s 25th Century Gang with “Peacock”:

After strutting like a peacock, what could be more natural than waddling like a duck. Because that’s what you do when you do the Hucklebuck.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Capitalism Gone Mad

To mark the G20 meeting and accompanying protests here in London today, this is the Mighty Sparrow with "Capitalism Gone Mad".