Thursday, 30 July 2009

Hungary, Georgia and Chile

The little counter down on the right has been whizzing away over the last few days with three new countries added to the list of visitors. The sharper amongst you will have deduced from the title of the post that they are Hungary, Georgia and Chile.

I was trying to think of a subject that linked the three countries to use as a theme for this post. The only thing I could think of linking Hungary and Georgia was that they had both been invaded by Russia (or the Soviet Union as it was in the 1956 invasion of Hungary). Not to be deterred by the possibility that it might be in bad taste, I ploughed on.

Wanting to find out if Chile had been invaded more recently than when the Spaniards did it way back when, I went onto Google and learnt about a quite horrific invasion the poor Chileans suffered in 2004 while the rest of the world stood by and did nothing.

I then remembered that all three countries produce wine, but by then I had already uploaded the tracks. So, as a tribute to those brave souls who suffered at the hands (or rather, the tentacles) of the hordes of Dosidicus Gigas, today's choices are "The Invasion Is Coming" by The Invasion:

and "Squid Jiggin' Ground" by Oscar Brand Jr. Jiggin' is the only language those squid understand, you know. And some would say it is too good for them.

And, like me, I am sure you can't resist a videoclip with the title "Scientists Defrost a 495 kg Squid !". That's a lot of calamari.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Husband of Letta

The previous post featured the great South African Letta Mbulu. Here are a couple of funky tunes from her equally excellent other half, Caiphus Semenya: "Angelina" and "Dial Your Number".

I couldn't find any clips of Caiphus in action on YouTube so instead a have gone for a Radio 2 style thematic link instead. "Dial Your Number" is a song about a man failing to get through to the woman he loves on the telephone. So is this.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Letta Gets It On

Today we feature the female half of one of the great husband and wife music making teams - no not Cher, Tammy Wynette or even Eydie Gorme. It is Letta Mbulu who with her husband Caiphus Semenya and on her own has made some fantastic records since the mid-1960s when they joined other South African jazz cats like Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba and Jonas Gwangwa in exile in the US.

As well as recording under her own name, and in duets as Caiphus & Letta, Letta was also a favourite of Quincy Jones for a while, featuring on his soundtracks for "Roots" and "The Color Purple" and on Jacko's "Liberian Girl". She and Caiphus moved back to South Africa in the early 1990s and are still going strong, although Letta hasn't recorded for a few years.

Here are a couple of tracks from her 1970 LP "Letta": "Mahlalela" (written by Caiphus) and "Macongo" (written by Hugh Masekela, who also plays on the track).

And here she is in action with "Nomalizo":

Sunday, 26 July 2009

May Downloads/ Groovy Greeks

A quick alert first. I will be taking down all the downloads from May next weekend, so if you like Sertanejo, Sevillana, Steve Hillage or Swamp Dogg amongst others this is your last chance. All the downloads are available at:

Today we are in 1970s Greece for some folk-rock. I will keep the rambling short and to the point as I know nothing about either of these groups and have no interesting Greece-related anecdotes to bore you with. So here are Agapanthos with "Tora" and Nostradamus with "Tu Choriu To Panigiri".

Those of you who have studied my choice of YouTube clips will be expecting Demis Roussos now. And quite rightly.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Still In Scotland

Yesterday we featured "Willows of Carbeth" by Trembling Bells, Carbeth being in Scotland. Here are two more tracks with Scottish locations in the title.

You could not get much more Scottish the first one - Karine Polwart with a lovely version of the traditional song "The Birks of Invermay". This is from her 2007 album, "Fairest Floo'er".

The second is slightly less authentic but just as good in its way - "Angus of Aberdeen" by Beacon Street Union from Boston. This is from 1968 and I particularly like the line "The mountains are the vectors of my dreams". It sounds like it ought to mean something, but I have come to the conclusion it is probably just magnificent gibberish. But if you know better...

It is almost as authentically Scottish as this:

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Witchseason Weekend 4

This is the last of my follow-ups to the Incredible String Band themed concert at the Barbican on Sunday. Abnormal service will be resumed shortly.

Today we feature Trembling Bells, a young Scottish band I had never heard of before but whom I was sufficiently impressed with to go out and buy their album, "Carbeth". They have a line-up of bass player, guitarist, whizzo drummer who is apparently also the creative force, a tall girl on organ and vocals and - on stage but it appears not on the record - a tiny girl on flute and things. When I transferred the CD on to iTunes yesterday the genre came up as "unclassifiable", which I think they would take as a compliment.

The highlight of their contribution on Sunday was a great version of "Cold Days of February", a song I always felt deserved better treatment. The ISB only ever released a not terribly well mixed live version on their cobbled together final album, "Hard Rope And Silken Twine", but it is a moody organ-led anti-war masterpiece. Trembling Bells may be the people to do it justice at last.

I have only had the chance to listen to "Carbeth" once. First impressions are often deceptive but, while there were a couple of tracks that sounded like they were trying a bit too hard to be distinctive, I think I'm going to like it. The song that grabbed me most immediately was the near-title track "Willows of Carbeth", so that is what you are getting.

And here is a clip of them live in Leeds earlier in the year. Don't be confused by the piano player at the beginning. And there's no sign of the tiny flute girl anywhere.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Witchseason Weekend 3

One of the other guest singers at Sunday's Incredible String Band tribute show at the Barbican was Scottish folk singer, Alasdair Roberts. He was the second most Scottish person there after the kilted fiddler. He also had the second most impressive beard after Green Gartside, and well ahead of Richard Thompson.

Alasdair took the lead on "Maya" and "My Name Is Death". For me "Maya" did not really work, unlike "My Name Is Death", which was a perfect match between singer and song.

Here are two tracks from his 2007 CD "Amber Gatherers": "Waxwing" and "River Rhine".

Here is a clip of him performing "Cruel War". Apologies for the lack of visual stimulation.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Witchseason Weekend 2

The second part of the Witchseason weekend was as good as the first - a tribute to the music of the Incredible String Band featuring Mike Heron and Clive Palmer from the ISB (but sadly not Robin Williamson) and all sorts of guests. While the quality was not as consistently high as the Fairport show on Saturday, the variety of the guests and the chance to hear some songs I had never thought I would ever hear live made it just as enjoyable. I will feature a few of the guests in the next few posts, starting today

There were many weird and wonderful moments, such as the closing section of "A Very Cellular Song" which featured, amongst many others, Scritti Politti on tambourine, Dr Strangely Strange on kazoos and penny whistle and Abigail Washburn on tap dancing. It was like sitting through a live action version of the Bonzo's "Intro And Outro".

As on Saturday there were a couple of free shows in the foyer beforehand. First up was Georgia Seddon, Mike Heron's daughter. I must admit I mainly went along in the hope her old Dad would join her for a song or two. He didn't, but it didn't matter too much because she is very good in her own right and definitely worth watching out for. I particularly liked her closing number "We Are The Stars" and her cover of Clive's "A Leaf Must Fall".

The second free show was from Dr Strangely Strange, looking their age but obviously having a whale of a time. Here they are:

From left to right that is Tim Goulding's back, Tim Booth, Ivan Pawle and Joe Thoma. Note Joe's nasty fiddle rash - may that be a warning to any young men of a fiddling tendency.

They did a few old songs and a few new songs, including my personal favourite of theirs: "Donnybrook Fair". It is a sort of potted history of Ireland - potted in more than one sense I suspect. Here it is.

And here is a slightly ropey clip of them doing a slightly ropey version of their signature tune earlier this year:

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Witchseason Weekend 1

An excellent show by Fairport and friends at the Barbican last night. It was basically a roughly chronological run through highlights of their first five albums, the first half being given over to their American-influenced period and the second half to "Liege and Lief" and "Full House".

It started with five of the six original members - Dyble, Hutchings, Matthews, Nicol and Thompson with Dave Mattacks on drums in place of the late Martin Lamble - then introduced various guest singers to cover Sandy Denny's parts. They were all good but Chris While was the pick of the bunch, kicking the second half off with a rousing rendition of "Come All Ye" and more than doing justice to the likes of "The Deserter" and "Matty Groves". Unlike some of the singers I have heard with other Fairport line-ups she doesn't attempt to sing them like Sandy, but manages to capture the original spirit much better.

One of the other singers was Linde Nijland, who took the lead on "Fotheringay" and "Si Tu Dois Partir". With her loyal accompanist Bert Ridderbos she also gave a very good free show in the foyer before the main event. Here they are in action:

Linde has released a few CDs including one of Sandy Denny songs, which was mostly what she played yesterday. She is or was also one half of Ygdrassil, the other being Annemarieke Coenders. Here are a couple of tracks from their 2005 album "Easy Sunrise": "In A Lonesome Town" - the only original she played last night - and a very nice cover of the Trees' "The Garden Of Jane Delawney":

Here is a clip of Ygdrassil performing their version of "Cruel Sister" from the same album:

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Anita And Me

All being well I'll be spending a large chunk of this weekend at the Barbican attending assorted concerts - Fairport Convention tonight, an Incredible String Band tribute tomorrow with a few free shows thrown in for good measure. I will no doubt be droning on about these over the next week or so.

I always get slightly nostalgic whenever I go to the Barbican because when I first moved to London 25 years ago I worked there as a security guard for twelve months. It wasn't the most stimulating of jobs, but every now and then you would be dispatched backstage at the concert hall or the Royal Shakespeare Company to look after a proper celebrity. In that way I got to meet the likes of Judy Dench, Roberta Flack and Bjorn and Benny from Abba, and I got kissed by Jenny Aguttar - life has gone downhill ever since. For a lad up from the sticks it all added to the glamour and excitement of London life.

Then there were my fellow security guards. Most of them were excellent fellows but there was a fair sprinkling of characters who were too thick, psychotic or downright strange to get any other employment. They included an individual who we shall call George, because that was his name. George had a bit of a tippling way and was eventually sacked after being found comatose under one of the bars at the end of a night shift. This was shortly after he had got down on one knee in the staff canteen one lunchtime and proposed to the Mormon girl from the ticket office. To our surprise - and possibly his - she accepted. I don't know whether the two events were connected.

George had an active imagination and came up with endless implausible tales. There was a spell of two or three weeks where he insisted that he and his Mum had been made homeless and were sleeping rough. This despite the fact that he turned up every day with a clean, ironed shirt and a packed lunch from his Mum - clearly a proud woman, Mrs George, and determined not to let standards fall in trying circumstances. The reason for their supposed predicament was that the flat they lived in was owned by the singer Anita Harris, who had recently been declared bankrupt - that much at least was true - with the result that the flat had been repossessed.

It took me a long time to forgive Anita Harris for her part in this tawdry incident, but then I heard her tribute to "London Life" and I felt I had to. I am sure you will too.

I was looking for a clip of Anita singing when up popped something titled "David Nixon with Giant Chinese Coin Penetration", which sounded infinitely more entertaining. As well as David and Anita it also features an early appearance by the great Ali Bongo (or Alistair as David rather formally calls him).

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Still Big In Bohemia

Sticking with the Czech sounds I picked up while visiting Brno, Olomouc and Pardubice a few years ago, here is a great pop song from 1970 - Vaclav Neckar with "Papagallo Baby".

And here he is camping it up on a Czech version of "Needles And Pins":

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Big In Bohemia

Last week we brought you some Yugoslav electropop from the early 1980s. This week we are going back to Eastern Europe for some late 1960s Czech garage bands.

Two or three years ago I was visiting eastern parts of the Czech Republic - although it would have been central Czechoslovakia at the time these recordings were made - and while browsing in a small record shop in Pardubice I uncovered a copy of "Vychodocesky Big Beat 1963-71". Vychodocesky is apparently the Czech name for the region known in English as Eastern Bohemia, and the CD is a compilation of recordings by bands from the region. So all you self-styled bohemians (you know who you are, Mr Jackson) are about to be put in your place by some authentic Bohemians.

May I present, from Pardubice itself, Fantom with "Krizova Cesta" (1967). And from the historic town of Hradec Kralove, Veterani with "Polepsi Se" (1969).

Needless to say I can't find any of these bands on YouTube, so instead is something completely unrelated (and completely awful):

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

When Dinosaurs Roamed The Earth

I'm not sure why but I've been listening to Bob Seger a lot recently. It may be the faint echoes of Van the Man, but I think it is to do with nostalgia. Not nostalgia for when I used to listen to him first time round - I never did - but because so many of his songs look wistfully back at the boy he used to be that I find myself doing the same. Me listening to Bob is like two middle aged men in a pub comparing notes on our wild years and sighing.

Here are a couple from the Bobster (as he used to insist on being called when we trawled the bars of the red light district - happy days): "Fire Lake" and "Mainstreet".

And here he is with a dramatic re-imagining of "Night Moves", featuring Joey from Cheers*:

* As Mister F points out below, "Joey from Cheers" is a mistake. I meant "Woody from Friends".

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Encounter With A Yettie

I have just come back from a weekend in Dorset revisiting some haunts of my youth. On Saturday afternoon I was in Yetminster for the annual Fair. In the old days Saturday night in Yetminster was synonymous with the meat raffle in the Railway Inn. Even my stern grandmother had to forgive me when I staggered in at midnight drunkenly waving a bag of lamp chops for Sunday lunch.

Yetminster has long been a hot bed of musical talent, including my old friend Kevin Smith of Distortion and Backwater fame - I was briefly their lead singer until I was replaced by someone who had a PA system, but I'm not bitter. Even more famous than Kev are The Yetties, one of the West Country's premier folk groups. For West Country lads of my generation whether you were considered cool in certain circles depended on whether you favoured the Yetties or the Wurzels - it was like the Beatles vs the Stones but with accordions.

Personally I have always been a Yetties man, partly because of the local connection - I went to the same school as them, many years later - but also because in my view the Wurzels sold out shortly after the untimely death of Adge Cutler in 1974. The Yetties have stayed true to the tradition and are still going strong after well over 40 years. On behalf of the British Council they continue to tour the world, introducing people everywhere to the delights of songs about cider.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was on Saturday to find two of the three Yetties - Bonnie Sartin and Mac McCulloch - manning a stall at the Fair, selling vinyl copies of early albums for £5 with all proceeds going to charity. I got all tongue-tied but managed to exchange a few words with Mr Sartin while purchasing a copy of the classic 1972 album "Dorset is Beautiful".

I haven't yet had a chance to digitalise that album, so instead here are a couple of tracks from their debut album released in 1969, "Fifty Stone of Loveliness". Both of them are old standards: "The Maypole" and "To Hear The Nightingale Sing":

I can't find any clips of the lads on YouTube, so instead here are Ed "Stewpot" Stewart and Steeleye Span.

Friday, 10 July 2009

The Pretty Things

For no reason other than that it is fantastic, here are The Pretty Things with "Rosalyn".

And here is a clip of them from 1966 doing "Midnight To Six":

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Big In Banja Luka

From Belgium in 1981, we move forward and across a bit to Yugoslavia (as it still was then) in the mid-1980s.

While visiting Skopje, the capital of Macedonia (or - if you are one of our Greek readers - the Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia), a couple of years ago I picked up a CD with the snappy title of "Hitovi Pop Rock Osamdesetih 1984-85". As you will have guessed it was a compilation of Yugoslav hits from that era.

Here are two of them. First, from Sarajevo, Plavi Orkestar with "Goodbye Teens". Second, from Zagreb, Dorian Gray with "Sjaj U Tami", which you will recognise as a Croatian cover version of "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore".

To fully appreciate the wonder of Dorian Gray you really need to see the video:

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The Sound Of Young Ostend

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had picked up a "Best of Belgium 1981" compilation CD in Brussels while on a day trip for work. Well I have finally got round to listening to it and it is better than I had anticipated.

Here are a couple of hits from the Antwerp Underground: "Give Me A Gun" by Lavvi Ebbel and "Crocodile Tears" by Kuruki.

I quite like them but I am not sure whether that is because I really like them or because they sound like a Flight of the Conchords' 1980s parody. Probably the latter.

Here is some more top-notch sophisticated Continental pop from 1981 (you may want to skip the first 15 seconds which just counts it in - for that matter you might want skip all the rest of it. Si Si):

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Mighty Mahmoud

Today we bring you a couple of tracks from the great Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed.

I was lucky enough to see him in action at the Barbican last year along with other big names from pre-Derg days.

There was a large beard-stroking contingent there for the composer and vibraphone player Mulatu Astatke who is apparently highly innovative but I'm afraid I just found deadly dull. Things took a distinct turn for the better with the arrival of Alemayehu Eshete, known as the James Brown of Addis Ababa in his prime.

But as excellent as he was, Mahmoud Ahmed was a class apart. He has an exceptional voice and is a surprisingly charismatic performer considering his stage movements were pretty much limited to occasonally jumping up and down on the spot and clapping his hands.

The selections are "Abbay Mado" and "Yedetnash":

And here he is performing "Tezeta" last year:

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Bonnie At The Fair

Here is Bonnie Raitt with a couple of songs with a fair motif.

From 1972's "Give It Up": "Too Long At the Fair".

From 1974's "Streetlights": a cover of Joni Mitchell's "That Song About The Midway".

When I was a lad in Dorset our fair was always held in early October on a day known locally as Pack Monday. If you are interested in that sort of thing you can find more details at:

Inevitably it would rain for several days beforehand so you would find yourself in the evening knee deep in mud trying but failing to enjoy yourself. One year me and Holty went on the ferris wheel in a hugh wind and it broke down while we were at the top - I've never been on one since.

The most recent fair I went to was in Los Naveros in Andalucia at the beginning of May, which was great fun. I won a monkey at the "shoot a plastic duck and win a prize" stall. I gave it to a local woman who I had been dancing with, to promote the old Entente Cordiale (or whatever the Spanish equivalent is).

Enough rambling, let's get back to Bonnie. Also from "Streetlights", here is a fantastic clip of her doing "Angel From Montgomery":

Saturday, 4 July 2009

A Cast Of A Thousand

Well it took nearly six months, but yesterday was a red letter day for 27 Leggies as we had our 1000th visit.

Whether you are one of our regulars in places such as London, Ipswich, Johannesburg, Ely in Nevada, and Sarnia (not Narnia as I thought at first)...

Or a one-time visitor from such exotic locations as Seri Kembangan, Mbabane, Oss, Apopka and Kock (no sniggering, it is a beautifully appointed small town in Eastern Poland)...

On behalf of all of us at Goggins Productions, THANK YOU

If you are thinking of thanking us in return that is very nice of you but there is really no need. In the words of Bobby Womack, "You're Welcome, Stop On By":

By my calculation, at the current rate we should reach five figures in August 2013. Tune in then for what promises to be a party and a half!!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Wrestling Midgets

There was a fantastic headline in the Metro today: "Wrestling midgets killed by fake hookers". I think it is the "fake" that makes it so good. For the full sad story - with suitably bizarre photo - click on the heading.

Inexplicably I don't any songs on this theme, but here is a song about a hooker ("Old Compton Street Blues" by Al Stewart):

Here is a song about midgets - in happier times ("Three Jolly Little Dwarfs" by Zoot):

And here are a couple of legends from the Golden Age of Grapple, Giant Haystacks vs Big Daddy. Big Daddy's real name was Shirley Crabtree. One can only assume his parents were going for the "Boy Named Sue" effect. It worked.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

It's Terry Time!!

Is there a name more redolent of a certain type of Englishness than Terry? Well, yes, there probably is, but that was a rhetorical question. What I mean is that - while I know there are Terrys and Thierrys all over the world - it is a name that has always seemed quintessentially English to me.

And here are two quintessentially English songs about Terrys.

First, Twinkle with "Terry":

Second, Vivian Stanshall with "Terry Keeps His Clips On".

There is another song by a quintessentially English band that starts "Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station, every Friday night", but I couldn't possibly put something that well known on here. However it just so happens that Mr Stanshall also recorded a song about meeting a date at Waterloo Station. It is called "Blind Date" and I have added it as a bonus:

For the clip I had intended to post Kirsty MacColl with her own "Terry", but then I found this. For the benefit of some of our foreign readers, Terry "El Tel" Venables is the former England football manager and very much the sort of cheeky chappie you expect someone called Terry to be: