Thursday, 30 December 2010

Party Pack

Ahoy there, whey-faced lovers of lo-fi! Are you hosting a New Year's Eve party and worried that with only your funereal-paced record collection to play your rug will be left uncut? Well, feel free to dip into the 27 Leggies Party Pack:

"Dancin' Mood" - Jay & The Techniques (USA)

"Hippy, Skippy Moon Strut" - The Moon People (USA)

"Gumba Gumba" - Letta Mbula (South Africa)

"Jive Soweto" - Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse (South Africa)

"Maxaka" - Peta Teanet (South Africa)

"Jolies Filles" - Lapiro De Mbanga (Cameroon)

"Princesa Negra De Angola" - Bebeto (Brazil)

"Rus Pu Tin" - Panadda Chayapark (Thailand)

Yes, that last one is what you think it is. I included it as a tribute to Bobby Farrell of Boney M, the original Daddy Cool and one of the finest mimers in the business, who sadly passed away earlier today. Here he is in action.



Bobby was born in Aruba. Unfortunately, I can never hear the word Aruba without singing "Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya" etc. This is possibly my favourite version of "Kokomo".



And a Happy New Year to you all.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Calypso Corner

Here are three variations on yer actual calypso sound. First up we have an early piece of what was to become soca from Lord Shorty, although at that stage it was really still an attempt to add disco to calypso. Then we have a Nigerian calypso from Mr Bola Johnson, celebrating the fact that Nigeria had shaken off the old colonial shackles by changing the law to require driving on the right not the left. And finally we have, er, Bob Mitchum.

"Sweet Music" - Lord Shorty (1976)

"Nigeria Drive On The Right" - Bola Johnson (date unknown - 1960s?)

"Mama Looka Boo Boo" - Robert Mitchum (1957)

It's not just Mr Mitchum. All sorts have had a go, with varying degrees of success.



Monday, 27 December 2010

This Year's Gigs

Following on my attempt at a top ten albums list - which I already disown - I thought I should reflect on live music in 2010. It was a mixture of good and bad, the good being the high number of excellent gigs I was lucky enough to get to, the bad being the loss of one of London's better small venues. The Luminaire in Kilburn will close its doors next week and will be sadly missed. Coming only a few months after What's Cookin' in Leytonstone has cut back to only one gig a month, let's hope this isn't the beginning of a trend.

My gig going in 2010 began in Brussels in January with two gigs in one night. The first was Jon Spencer's rockabilly combo, Heavy Trash, and they were good. But not half as good as Papa Boni & Kundi Bora, whose Congolese soukous sounds I discovered by accident - and you can discover them on YouTube. I popped into the Live Music Cafe on Avenue Anspach for a quick beer on my way back to my hotel. The next thing you know it is 2am and I am dancing round the tables with a friendly bunch of locals. A memorable night.

The last paid gig of the year was also in Brussels just a few weeks ago - Senegalese rapper Didier Awadi and guests performing his tribute to many of the African leaders that led their countries to independence, "Presidents d'Afrique". That was another excellent night, and there were many more in between.

I would find it impossible to choose a single "best gig of the year" as there were just too many highlights - long-time heroes such as Mike Heron at Cafe OTO and Hugh Masekela at the Royal Festival Hall and stalwarts such as Tom Russell and Otis Gibbs at the Luminaire and What's Cookin' respectively, to name but a few. So instead here are five of the songs that would make my fantasy compilation of the best live moments of 2010.

"Riot In Cell Block Number Nine" - Wanda Jackson

72 years young, Wanda fought her way to the Luminaire through the volcanic ash clouds to blow us all away in April. Her yell in the middle of this song was enough to set off another eruption. This is the original recording.

"Bonfires" - Rickie Lee Jones

This song from "Balm In Gilead", accompanied only by her own guitar, was one of the many highlights of a career-spanning set at the Union Chapel in July.

"Another Song In C" - Loudon Wainwright III

Loudon was on a double bill with Richard Thompson in the Festival Hall in June, as part of the latter's Meltdown Festival. Tommo was on sparkling form as always, but Loudon stole the show with this. This recording is from their joint US tour in 2009.

"Hedda Gabler" - John Cale

Also at the Festival Hall, February saw John Cale perform his classic "Paris 1919" in its entirety with band, string section and horn section. That was great. After the interval he came back with just the band and played a short set that was even better. I had never heard "Hedda Gabler" before but was completely stunned by it. This version comes from his 1979 LP "Sabotage Live". The version he played in February was even darker and even more impressive.

"Black Eyed Dog" - Lisa Hannigan

In January there was an all-star tribute concert to Nick Drake and his arranger Robert Kirby, who had recently passed away. The overall quality was a bit patchy, but there were some stand out performers including Krystle Warren, Teddy Thompson and Danny Thompson on bass, as he was on many of the original recordings. But Lisa Hannigan's "Black Eyed Dog" stood head and shoulders above everything else. This is the actual performance. I converted it from this clip from the subsequent "highlights" show on the BBC, most of which can be found on YouTube:

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Seasonal Tsonga

For my last post before Christmas, we return to our neglected mission to spread the good word about Tsonga Disco. Here are two tracks each from three of the titans of the Tsonga disco scene: Penny Penny, Joe Shirimani and the late, great Peta Teanet.

Penny's tracks come from the album "Tamakhwaya No. 6", released in 2006, and Joe's from "Tambilu Yanga", released in 2008. Peta's come from a compilation called "King of Shangaan Disco", which is available for download on Amazon and highly recommended.

"3 In 1" - Penny Penny

"Aka Skikorokoro" - Penny Penny

"Basani" - Joe Shirimani

"Limpopo" - Joe Shirimani

"Andi Vileli" - Peta Teanet

"African Vibe (Part 2)" - Peta Teanet

A skorokoro (or skikorokoro as Penny Penny calls it) is a clapped out old car, hence the noise of a motor revving at the start. I don't know whether Penny was attempting to update this South African Afropop standard from the 1980s - musically they don't have a great deal in common apart from both being extremely infectious, and that revving sound.

"Skorokoro" - Condry Ziqubu

NEWSFLASH: Many thanks to my (now officially a hipster) friend Wills Glasspiegel for drawing my attention to this excellent article in the South African Mail & Guardian on all things Shangaan/Tsonga. Regular readers will spot familiar names like Thomas Chauke, and it is good to see them getting a bit of recognition in their own national media at last.

We'll leave you with more conventional Christmas fare, for which many, many apologies. Have a good one.



And watch out for Jerry Garcia's appearance 50 seconds into this one:

Monday, 20 December 2010

Snowballs

In an attempt to be topical, here are three women singing about snow (although I can't be 100% sure about the first one).

"Pure Lotus In Snow" - Zhang Limin (1970)

"Rain And Snow" - Pentangle (1971)

"Snow" - Georgia Seddon (2009)

Georgia Seddon is the daughter of one of my all time heroes, Mike Heron of the Incredible String Band, and very talented in her own right as you can hear. I had the great pleasure of seeing them perform in Dalston recently. A couple of days before that they had joined the Trembling Bells on stage at Cecil Sharp House for a rendition of Mike's old winter ghost story, "Feast of Stephen". That has now been released as a Christmas single, on the other side of which the Bells team up with Bonnie Prince Billy. You really ought to buy it. To tempt you, here is the original.

"Feast Of Stephen" - Mike Heron (1971)

Here are some men called Snow. The sublime and the ridiculous.



Sunday, 19 December 2010

Magyar Magic

First pickings from the haul of vintage Hungarian vinyl picked up in Budapest earlier this week - three singles from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The best known of the three acts, certainly outside Hungary, is Sarolta Zalatnay. "Nem Varok Holnapig" ("I am not waiting till tomorrow") was the song with which she won the Hungarian Television's dance song contest, setting her on a path to fame and fortune. It is a fairly generic piece of 1960s pop, but in the 1970s she became decidely funky and psychadelic. The best of her work was put out on a compilation by Finders Keepers records in 2007. More recently she seems to have been a tabloid staple in Hungary, including spending time in jail for fraud a few years back.

Beata Karda was also a regular hitmaker, and is still going strong it seems. Those of you whose Hungarian is better than mine can find out more at her website. Of Levante Szorenyi I have been able to discover absolutely nothing. But "Rockandroll Rezi" was co-written by Janos Brody, who went on to be one of Hungary's most successful singer-songwriters in a vaguely folk-rock style with the likes of Fonograf, who will no doubt be featured here in due course.

"Nem Varok Holnapig" - Sarolta Zalatnay (1967)

"Rockandroll Rezi" - Levante Szorenyi (year unknown)

"Csilliagiviragok" - Beata Karda (1973)

There are plenty of clips of Beata on YouTube. I can't decide which of these is my favourite, so you are getting them all.





Friday, 17 December 2010

Top 10 albums of 2010

I received an e-mail from the Hype Machine recently making it clear that I am expected to produce a top ten albums list in order to justify my position as Opinion Former to the Glitterati.

This presents me with a bit of a challenge. As any regular readers will know, my main interest is digging out little known but wonderful music from the past and from different parts of the world. I make no real effort to keep up to date with what is going on musically in the UK, US etc. This is partly because I am an old fart, partly because I don't have the time to listen to everything I dig out already without adding to it even further, and partly because I assume if it is really great I will eventually find out about it somehow.

So mine will be one of the least well-informed Top Tens you will read this festive season. I was reading a blog this morning that has started going through its top 50 albums of the year. I doubt I have listened to many more than about half that number of albums of new material all the way through this year.

With that caveat, here goes:

1. Queen Of Denmark - John Grant
2. The Lady Killer - Cee Lo Green
3. Silver And Ash - Clare Burson
4. Abandoned Love - Trembling Bells
5. Great Expectations - The Jolly Boys
6. Likelemba - Reddy Amisi
7. True Love Cast Out All Evil - Roky Erickson & Okkervil River
8. Ways Of Escape - Great Lakes
9. Presidents D'Afrique - Didier Awadi
10. Joe Hill's Tears - Otis Gibbs

Here are a few selections from what are probably some of the less well known names on that list. Reddy Amisi is one of the current generation of fine Congolese performers. Clare Burson's album brings together songs inspired by the life of her grandmother, an East European jew who moved to the States in the early years of the Second World War, leaving most of her family behind - I was lucky enough to get to the launch gig in New York in September. And Great Lakes from Athens, Georgia via Brooklyn are one of a number of fine listens brought to my attention by the estimable Liz Lawson at Deux Et Machina PR, to whom this post is dedicated. Happy Christmas, Liz, and keep up the good work.

"Ma Geko" - Reddy Awisi

"In The Sea" - Clare Burson

"Old Ways" - Great Lakes

To finish off, here are clips from the top two.



Thursday, 16 December 2010

Mari & Phoebe

I got back from Budapest last night laden down with vintage Hungarian vinyl acquired from an excellent shop on Paulay Ede Utca, the name of which I have forgotten - if you start from Deak Ferenc Ter metro it is about a block and a half up on the left, and you need to ring the bell to be allowed in.

The Hungarian albums are upstairs and go for 600 to 1800 forint (roughly £2 to £6), and if you ask nicely the owner will open up the storeroom where he has loads of old singles on the Qualiton and Pepita labels going for 250 forint. It will be a while before you (or I) get to hear them - they have been added to the backlog along with the Danish stuff and new Tsonga Disco that regular readers have heard me droning on about previously.

While in Budapest I visited the trendy Godor Klub - which is located underneath an artificial lake, so you make sure not to sit near any cracks in the ceiling - to catch a gig by Mari Nyeso. This is her.

Mari performs a mix of folk, jazz and blues and is pretty nifty on the old guitar, as the YouTube clip below demonstrates. Vocally she reminded me a little of Phoebe Snow. I don't have any of Mari's recordings, so here is a bit of Phoebe as a substitute, including her cover of The Roche's "The Married Men" - which is copied from vinyl, so apologies for the quality.

"Harpo's Blues" - Phoebe Snow (from "Phoebe Snow", 1974)

"The Married Men" - Phoebe Snow (from "Against The Grain", 1978)


Friday, 10 December 2010

Bunny's Boiling

I am off to Budapest tomorrow for a well-earned break, so here is a quick post to tide you over until I return. It's the mighty Bunny Wailer with a couple of tracks from his classic 1977 album, "Protest".

"Who Feels It" - Bunny Wailer

"Johnny Too Bad" - Bunny Wailer

Bunny is a righteous man but he is not averse to a bit of light-hearted fun. In fact, his biggest success in the States came from writing this little ditty.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Presidents D'Afrique

I was at a loose end in Brussels on Sunday night when, flicking through a listings magazine, I discovered that one Didier Amadi was playing Bozar (or the Palais Des Beaux-Arts to give the place its full name) that evening. I had never heard of him but wandered over out of curiousity and, discovering that tickets could be had for as little as €8, decided to give it a go.

Bozar is a combination of an art gallery and a medium-sized concert hall. Ideal for the classical concerts that it is normally used for, but less obviously suited to a radical Senegalese hip hop artist, which is what the programme informed me Didier was. I'm not a great fan of hip hop so I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the evening. Add to that the fact that the venue was no more than about one third full, and that the evening began with a lengthy speech from a Eurocrat who informed us that the event was sponsored by the Belgian Presidency of the European Union and that Didier would be performing his concept album about African liberation leaders who went on to be presidents of their countries, and I awaited his arrival with some trepidation.

Which made the next two hours somewhat of a revelation. Didier was backed by an excellent band, with a stand out performance from Moustapha Gaye on guitar, and was joined by a steady stream of guest singers, rappers and random audience members (including one splendidly dressed older gent who I believe was the Senegalese ambassador to the EU). While there was a strong hip hop element to the music, it also drew heavily on various African styles linked to the leader the specific song was about - for example, some rumba for the song about Patrice Lumumba of the Congo. All in all it was an excellent show.

Compared to the stage show, the album "Presidents D'Afrique" is relatively mild-mannered, but it is still very enjoyable with a host of guest stars from all over Africa. These three selections are tributes to Mandela, Lumumba and Modibo Keita of Mali respectively.

"Amandla" - Awadi (featuring Skwatta Kamp)

"Ensemble" - Awadi (featuring Babani Kone)

"On A Plus Le Choix" - Awadi (featuring Fredy Massamba)

Some of you hardcore rap and hip hop fans might consider to be a bit too watered down for your tastes. In which case, try this "old school" (as I believe they say) classic instead.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Tidying Up

The end of the year is approaching at alarming speed. This was brought home to me yesterday when I received an e-mail from the Hype Machine informing me that I had only a few weeks to publish my list of my top ten albums of 2010, which is apparently essential if I am to be considered an official Taste Maker. I just hope I can find the time - you may be hoping I don't.

Things are rather busy at the moment as I am not around much - off to Brussels this afternoon for four days work, then next weekend off to Budapest for a short break - and with Christmas planning now kicking in, with the result that I have not got round to listening to the new Danish and Tsonga Disco CDs I have mentioned previously.

So instead here are selections from a couple of CDs from my list of things to post when there is a gap to fill. If that makes it sound like they are second rate it is not intended, it is just there has always been something I have wanted to post just a little bit more. Now is their time to shine.

First up is The Candle Thieves, from their current album "Sunshine and Other Misfortunes". According to the blurb on their website, "they summon up the spirits of Eels, Sufjan Stevens and the Lucksmiths in their sounds". That's as maybe. To an old fart like me they sound like Prefab Sprout. Which is no bad thing.

"Stars" - The Candle Thieves

"Sharks And Bears" - The Candle Thieves

Masta Famedji, on the other hand, is a bit more of a mystery. His 2001 album, "Faso I Love", is dedicated to the people of Burkina Faso. However he sings in English rather than French, which suggests he is not from Burkina himself. All the clues are that he is Nigerian - little subtle clues like the song "Coming From Nigeria" and the other one dedicated to "Father Fela".

To add to the mystery there is a group playing regular gigs in France at the moment going by the name of Sylama and the Masta Famedji Group, led by a very un-Nigerian looking woman called Sylama. My knowledge of French is very shaky, but from reading the notes I fear this means Masta himself has passed on and Sylama is carrying the torch, a bit like Bonnie Tyler fronting the Sensational Alex Harvey Band.

If anyone can shed any light on the mystery, please do. In the meantime, here is the Masta in his pomp.

"Coming From Nigeria" - Masta Famedji

"Faso I Love You" - Masta Famedji

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that I mentioned both Bonnie Tyler and Sufjan Stevens. Which is the perfect excuse to play you a clip of their marvellous remake of the old Brook Benton and Dinah Washington duet. Although in this clip Bonnie appears be auditioning for "Stars In Their Eyes" as Rod Stewart.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Turner Time

To ease you into the weekend, here are some fine soul sounds courtesy of the Turner Brothers from Indianapolis. They released one ultra rare (and ultra good) album in 1974. It went by the name of "Act 1". Sadly it turned out to be a single act play.

Actually I think "ultra rare" might be underplaying the status of the original release. A copy sold in EBay this year for $2125. Fortunately for the rest of us it was re-released by Luv 'N Haight (an offshoot of Ubiquity Records) in 1999. I picked up a copy of that for about £5 in Cape Town earlier in the year. To be honest I think I got the better deal.

The writing credits are shared between three of the six brothers and band members Jimmy Dixon and Rudy Ross. These two were both penned by Calvin Turner.

"Let's Go Fishing" - The Turner Bros.

"Sweetest Thing In The World" - The Turner Bros.

Here's another Turner, with some Bachmans. And an Overdrive.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Danish Delights 1

Christmas has come early for me. I got home today to find two Penny Penny CDs and a Joe Shirimani CD waiting for me. You lot are going to have to wait a little longer to share them, but fear not, it won't be too long.

In the mean time, here is the first in an occasional series which will last as long as it takes me to work my way through the assorted Danish CDs I acquired in Copenhagen on Monday. First up are Kliche with their debut album, 1980's "Supertanker".

According to such limited information as I can find, Kliche were "a Danish new wave band" - which I suspect you can work out for yourself - who "would semi-ironically quote Mao and Buddha and perform in uniforms - often coloured overalls". So now you know.

The bulk of the album is fairly conventional (I refuse to say kliched) new wave, of which "Hetz" is one of the better examples. But the opening and closing tracks are both synth-led and, to my inexpert eyes, slightly reminiscent of OMD when they still spelt their name out in full. And also rather good. The last track, "Masselinjen", is nearly ten minutes long and that is the one we feature today.

Overall, and bearing in mind I have only played it once, I would say "Supertanker" is hardly essential but worth a listen if you are a fan of the new wave/ post-punk/ synth-pop sort of thing. I mean you, Mister F.

"Hetz" - Kliche

"Masselinjen" - Kliche

If my source is to be believed, Kliche hailed originally from Aarhus. You know what is coming next. You're just not sure if it is the very, very big house or the one in the middle of our street. It's both!



Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Twinkle Time

I was in Copenhagen yesterday and managed to find time in between appointments to visit a couple of record shops and invest in a bundle of Danish delights. So look out for future posts featuring such luminaries as Kliche, Kashmir, Pocket-Size, Den Lille Prins and Starfuckers.

Adverse Easyjet conditions meant that my return journey was rather prolonged. Now, there are worse places to be stuck for seven hours than Copenhagen Airport. And a snow-coated Stansted Airport has a certain charm at 3am - it is also remarkably efficient when it only has to deal with one plane at a time. Nonetheless, I was feeling a little jaded by the time I got home at 5am, with four hours to go until my next meeting.

You know me as a man of impeccable taste, as indeed I am. Tsonga Disco, Thai funk and Swedish folky trip hoppy sort of stuff are the bread and butter of my musical collection. But sometimes there is just no substitute for the restorative powers of Essex.

"Hold Me Close" - David Essex

"Cool Out Tonight" - David Essex

Even when he is dressed up as a bad Bryan Ferry impersonator he can't help but twinkle.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Swedes On Sunday

We finish off this week's whistle-stop world tour in Sweden, with something ancient and modern. DJ Embee of the Loop Troop Rockers - not an ensemble whose work I am familiar with, I'm afraid - has teamed up with folk singer Esmeralda Moberg to perform poems written by his Dad, Roger Bergkvist, in a folk-tinged trip hop style. The resulting album is called Skuggpoeten, and it is out now.

The combination is occasionally a little soporific, but when it works it works extremely well. As these two examples demonstrate.

"Stad Vriden At Soder" - Skuggpoeten

"Kvarnforsen" - Skuggpoeten

Can anyone think of other Swedish groups that have successfully combined beats with more ethnic sounds? Oh yes...

Friday, 26 November 2010

Merengue!!!

Here at 27 Leggies we started the week in India before moving on to South Africa. So let's keep heading west, to the Caribbean. Specifically, the Dominican Republic, home of that master of the merengue, Wilfrido Vargas. Here are a few of his choice selections to get you in the mood for the weekend.

"Me Duele El Corazon" - Wilfrido Vargas

"Chevere-Anti-Chevere" - Wilfrido Vargas

"El Extraterrestre" - Wilfrido Vargas

I assume that last one is about aliens. So's this.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Freddie Gwala

Here are some South African sounds from the 1990s for you. Not Tsonga Disco, for a change, but not too far off in style.

Freddie Gwala served eight years for car theft way back when. On his release he begun to make his name in the music business, initially as a writer/producer for gospel group Pure Gold and then Platform 1, specialists in wedding songs. He kick-started his solo career with a massive hit in the form of "Amadamara". Here it is, together with a track from his later "Amadamara 4" album, which according to the ever-reliable Max Mojapelo went gold in either 1996 or 1997. "Amadamara 4" is available for download on Amazon, and probably elsewhere.

"Amadamara" - Freddie Gwala

"Guma Faya" - Freddie Gwala

Here is old Freddie in action:



And as a special bonus, here is an even older Freddie in action:

Monday, 22 November 2010

Punjabi Pop

Here are a couple of tracks I first featured way back in the early days of this blog, when visitors were few and far between and passers-by generally just kept passing. I have dusted them off because I think they deserve a larger audience.

Jasbir Jassi is a leading purveyor of Punjabi pop. You can find out more about him in the Profile section of his website where, if you are so inclined, you can also take innocent pleasure in the slightly wonky English. I particularly like the reference to him being the most "dotted-on" member of his family, which makes it sound like someone got carried away when applying the tilaka.

These two songs are from the late 1990s, but he is still going strong.

"Kudi Kudi" - Jasbir Jassi

"Dil Le Gayee" - Jasbir Jassi

And here he is in action.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Singles Club

This is the latest in our irregular series of highlights from my singles collection. These selections come from the period 1975 to 1983, which gives you a pretty good idea of when I stopped buying singles on a regular basis.

There is something for everyone here. As long as everyone likes either post-punk, post-punk-funk, pop-jazz, overhyped but underrated glam rock, disco versions of songs by the Animals or reggae versions of songs by Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme.

"I Just Want To Stay Here (And Love You)" - Derrick & Paulette (1975)

"House Of The Rising Sun/ Quasimodo Suite" - Santa Esmeralda (1977)

"Danger Signs" - Penetration (1979)

"The Devil Lives In My Husband's Body" - Pulsallama (1982)

"Passion Killer" - One The Juggler (1983)

"Native Boy" - Animal Nightlife (1983)

Santa Esmeralda were attempting to repeat a trick, having previously scored a major hit with another Animals cover version. This one.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Lots Of Bots

A few months ago Mr F and I went on a very pleasant jaunt from Antwerp to Cologne, picking up assorted bits of vinyl along the way. I finally got round to converting them to mp3 format over the weekend. To be honest, none of them are what I would call long-lost classics, but some of them are quite entertaining.

One such is "Aufstehn", the 1980 album by bots - they insisted on using lower case, no doubt for deeply symbolic reasons. That one cost me €1 in an Oxfam shop in Cologne, and was worth every cent.

What little I know about bots has been gleaned from a German language Wikipedia page, as massacred by Google Translate. They were a Dutch band who released their first album in 1975. At some point towards the end of that decade they became popular in Germany and began to release albums in German. It is not clear from the translation whether the albums were released simultaneously in both Dutch and German or exclusively in German.

The main man in bots was Hans Sanders, the singer and guitarist who also wrote the tunes and the original Dutch lyrics (the German lyrics were provided by assorted songwriters, authors and journalists and are apparently very socially aware). He died in Eindhoven in 2007. Special mention must also go to the wonderfully named Bonkie Bongaerts on piano. His current whereabouts are unknown. Are you out there, Bonkie?

Anyway, here is the title track (which translates as "Get Up") and the opener (which I guess translates as "The Man"). Apologies for the slightly ropey quality.

"Der Mann" - bots

"Aufstehn" - bots

One of those responsible for the German lyrics was Wolf Biermann, an East German singer-songwriter who had defected to the West in the mid 1970s bringing with him his step-daughter, one Nina Hagen.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Rose/Thorn Interface

Here are a few songs on the tricky subject of roses and thorns and whether they go together. The first two take a conventional view, before our old friends Jesus Couldn't Drum provide a twist in the tail.

These songs are dedicated to all the English roses of my acquaintance (apart from Jesus Couldn't Drum - none of them are nutters in the garden who sing to the concrete gnomes, at least not as far as I am aware).

"Cactus And A Rose" - Gary Stewart

"The Bramble And The Rose" - Mary McCaslin & Jim Ringer

"Even Roses Have Thorns" - Jesus Couldn't Drum

Here is some more rose-related fun.



Saturday, 13 November 2010

Hugh Jazz

The last of couple of nights have been spent at two very enjoyable gigs on the South Bank: John Grant at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Thursday, followed on Friday by Hugh Masekela (or Philip McCartney Jr. III to give him his real name) at the Royal Festival Hall.

If you haven't already got John Grant's "Queen of Denmark" you can certainly find many of the tracks on other blogs - I know I did - so we'll go straight to Hugh. I was lucky enough to see him play the Festival Hall once before, back in the 1990s, and age has not withered his charm. If anything he is even more of a showman than he used to be.

Hugh was backed by a very tidy five piece band, with a stand-out performer in John Cameron Ward on guitar. It took them all a couple of numbers to get warmed up but once they had done so they were excellent. My only minor moan was that on a couple of occasions when they had a real groove going and had got the audience on their feet, they slightly spoiled the mood with an extended bass solo (or, worse still, a bongo solo). That's jazz, I suppose.

Hugh played some old standards like "Stimela", "Lady" and, of course, "Grazing In The Grass". They finished on real high with a rendition of "Thanayi" that was decidedly cooking, as I believe the jazz buffs say, then encored with an exceptionally funky "Ashiko". Here are the recorded versions of both songs, which seem a little sedate by comparison.

"Thanayi" - Hugh Masekela

"Ashiko" - Hugh Masekela

We were also treated to a short but sweet support set from the Mahotella Queens, who having only been together since 1964 are novices compared to Hugh. The youngest member, aged 65, got a bit over-excited towards the end and started showing off. Kids, eh?

Here are the girls in action in 1991 with Mahlatini.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Tsonga Disco: Malulektro

As explained in my previous post, there are three distinct camps among current Tsonga Disco artistes: the traditionalists, the groovy disco dudes, and the more experimental electro types. George Maluleke is normally considered to be firmly in the first camp - for an example listen to the two tracks included in my post about him in April.

But these are interesting times. George did not get to be at the top of the Tsonga disco heap for so many years without knowing a thing or two about pleasing a crowd, and so in recent times has started including a few electro remixes with his albums and/or adding those remixes to reissues of some of his earlier albums. I am not entirely sure which is which as I have not been able to establish the original release dates.

Fans of the Shangaan Disco compilation album might particularly want to check out "Xirhandza Thyaka Remix" which is available to download from Amazon and elsewhere, together with a number of his other albums. As the title rather gives away, it is a remix of George's "Xirhandza Thyaka" album. That was his 17th album, and he is know on his 25th or 26th, so the original presumably came out in the early years of the millenium. My guess is that the remix is much more recent.

You certainly wouldn't recognise these tracks as being by George Maluleke, not least because his vocals have been completely removed.

"Swa Humelela Remix" - George Maluleke (from "Uhundukile Mavala")

"Basimbilu Remix" - George Maluleke (from "Xirhandza Thyaka Remix")

Speaking of the Shangaan Electro compilation as we were, here is a video featuring the Tshetsha Boys. And a whole lotta shakin' going on.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Tsonga Disco: Madlaks

For someone whose self-proclaimed mission is to bring Tsonga Disco to the masses, I have been doing a pretty awful job recently. It is time to start putting that right, beginning today. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you Madlaks.

If you are new to this site, a brief recap. The Tsonga people (also known as the Shangaan) live mainly in the north-eastern parts of the Limpopo Province in South Africa and in southern Mozambique. Tsonga Disco is a mixture of their traditional music and, well, disco I suppose.

Depending on who you are listening to the balance between traditional and disco elements will vary. There are those who come from the more traditional wing (the likes of Thomas Chauke and George Maluleke) and those who mix in more of a dance element (these include most of my personal favourites such as General Muzka, Joe Shirimani and Penny Penny - I have three new Penny Penny albums on order which I will hopefully be able to share with you soon).

More recently, a third camp has emerged who have turned the dial right up to bonkers, like those artists featured on the excellent "Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance Music From South Africa" compilation. Madlaks is in that camp. Here are a couple of selections from his album "Ndlho Ndlho".

"Ndlho Ndlho (Remix)" - Madlaks

"Nwamakapani" - Madlaks

Moving on to other news, bargain of the week (at least for our UK readers) has to be on Amazon, where you can currently download Cee Lo Green's "The Lady Killer" for just £3.99. It is already a serious contender for my album of the year. I strongly recommend you go and buy it now. And if you don't want to take my advice, well you know what you can do...


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Wom!

Today we bring you a couple of selections from a CD I picked up in Paris earlier in the year in one of the countless tiny African music shops near Marcadet-Poissoniers metro - "Panache" by the exotically named Yulianna Wom.


I have not been able to find out a great deal about Yulianna. I assume she is from Cameroon as the contact address on the CD is in Douala, although the album was recorded in the unlikely setting of the Euro Gospel studio in La Louviere, Belgium. Yulianna wrote and produced the album herself, with the help of musical maestro Didier Likeng. According to Sterns website it was released in 2001.

Most of the album canters along at a perky mid-tempo but, as it is Sunday, we will give you one of the slow tracks as well.

"Me M'Ading Wo" - Yulianna Wom

"Za'a Bike" - Yulianna Wom

One thing I haven't established yet is whether Yulianna is a distant relative of Barry Wom, drummer with the legendary Rutles. I assume not but you never know. Here they are in concert in the Shea Stadium in 1965.


Friday, 5 November 2010

Soul D'Ivoire

To help get you fired up for the weekend, here are a couple of selections from an excellent compilation album called "Ivory Coast Soul". As the name suggests, it is a collection of soulful tunes from Cote d'Ivoire, mostly from the 1970s. Great stuff it is too.

"Zadie Bobo" - Ernesto Djedje

"Adoue Pla Moussoue" - K. Assale

And here's something else for the weekend.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Spirits Beautiful

Last night I was at the Cafe OTO in Dalston to see Mike Heron and his band.

To provide a bit of context, Mike has been one of my musical heroes for roughly thirty years, since I discovered a copy of the Incredible String Band's "5000 Spirits, or the Layers of an Onion" album in a second-hand record shop and fell instantly in love with his music. While I have seen him live a number of times, it has always been in combination with others (the String Band reunions and various cameo roles at other concerts). This was the first opportunity I have ever had to see him perform a full set. And it happened in a nice, intimate venue - the audience of me, Green from Scritti Politti, and all the other old farts probably didn't quite reach 100 - with a few decent, locally brewed pints of porter.

So there is absolutely no prospect of getting an objective review from me. It was utterly fantastic and I was grinning from ear to ear from start to finish. Here are the original versions of just two of the many highlights.

"Douglas Traherne Harding" - The Incredible String Band (from "The Big Huge")

"Spirit Beautiful" - Mike Heron (from "Smiling Men With Bad Reputations")

The band comprised Mike's daughter, Georgia Seddon, on keyboards, Mike Hastings (whose day job is guitarist with the Trembling Bells), and Solveig Aakvik on fiddle. It was entertaining watching Georgia, who spent the whole set looking warily at over at Mike. That must be one of the problems of working with your Dad - no matter who they are or how good they are at what they do, they are only ever a matter of seconds away from doing something really embarrassing (Old Pa Goggins excepted of course).

Georgia did a short support set, as did Mike (Hastings) and Solveig. As well as being an excellent electric guitarist, as he showed during the Trembling Bells set on Saturday, he is pretty nifty on the acoustic as well. I think there is definitely a bit of a Bert Jansch feel to his sound. Judge for yourselves.

"Inchconnachan" - Mike & Solveig

And from way back when, here are old gang. Mike still closes his shows with this.



Monday, 1 November 2010

Eureka!

Those of you who were around back in September may recall me mentioning that I had been lucky enough to the see Eureka Birds in concert while in New York. Well now Justin Levy from the band has kindly sent me an advance copy of their new six track EP, called simply "Eureka!". Copies should be available soon from their website and elsewhere. The website also has details of Justin's short solo tour of the East Coast (of the US not the UK - he won't be playing Lowestoft), which kicks off tomorrow night with a hometown gig in Baltimore.

I really like the EP, and to me there is a warmth to it that wasn't there on their (still pretty good) self-titled debut album. Whether that comes from the additional band members, or the production, or just a bit more maturity in the writing and performing I don't know. But it works for me.

Being an old fart I don't know much about modern music, so I can't sensibly attempt to define or describe their sound. But to use a frame of reference I can understand, it seems like Eureka Birds are reinterpreting the best aspects of 1970s AOR and MOR, in the same sort of way as John Grant does on "Queen of Denmark" and Josh Rouse has done more than once. Fair to play to them, because when it was good it was very good. And for these younger folks who can filter out the worst excesses it doesn't lead to the same unpleasant flashbacks as for those of us who were just too young to be conscripted in the punk wars.

To illustrate what I mean, compare and contrast.

"We'll Get By" - Eureka Birds (from "Eureka!" EP, 2010)

"Downtown Tonight" - Racing Cars (from "Downtown Tonight", 1976)

Here is another mellow marvel from 1976. You didn't have to be attractive to have hit singles in those days. It was a simpler time.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Shirley & Co

Young Jackson and I went up to Cecil Sharp House last night for a triple bill of folk-related fun. And very good it was too.

The main item was a 90 minute presentation on the history of the folk song in Sussex. If that sounds a little dry, you need to know that it was delivered by the legendary Shirley Collins, now in her mid-seventies but still on top form. It was a fascinating mix of history, anecdotes, readings (by the estimable Pip Barnes) and field recordings. If the use of a lectern and temporary white screen on which to project the slides made the venue look even more like a school hall, somehow it only enhanced the experience.

The only slight disappointment was that there we did not hear more of Shirley's own recordings. But the one we did hear - "Gilderoy" - was stunningly beautiful. Here it is with her version of "Claudy Banks", which we learnt was the first song ever transcribed by Cecil Sharp as part of his project to preserve the English folk song.

"Gilderoy" - Shirley & Dolly Collins (from "For As Many As Will", 1978)

"Claudy Banks" - Shirley Collins & The Albion Band (from "No Roses", 1971)

Shirley was bookended by fine performances from the Trembling Bells and Alasdair Roberts. I am a big Bells fan as regular readers might know and, while I could have managed without the acapella interlude, they were on excellent form. As a special treat they brought on one of my all time musical heroes, Mike Heron of the Incredible String Band, to perform a great version of his "Feast of Stephen". Apparently they will be releasing it as a single - is it too soon to kick off the campaign to make it the Christmas Number One?

Alasdair Roberts also played a fine, if slightly abbreviated, set. There is definitely a touch of the Richard Thompsons about his guitar playing, singing, subject matter, and indeed his beard. This is him.

Here are one song apiece from Mr Roberts and the Tremblers. I will save Mike Heron for later in the week. Tube strike permitting I am off to see him in Dalston on Tuesday, and I can hardly wait.

"River Rhine" - Alasdair Roberts (from "The Amber Gatherers", 2006)

"When I Was Young" - Trembling Bells (from "Carbeth", 2009)

Those of you who are fans of 1970s disco will have worked out from the title of the post what is coming next. And if you didn't, well, shame on you.



Friday, 29 October 2010

Congolese Lady Singing!

Following on the Carlyto Lassa post earlier in the week, here are a couple of tracks from the other CD I picked up in Brussels earlier in the week. This one is by Tshala Muana, known to her many fans as "La Reine de Mutuashi", Mutuashi being the Afro-Cuban influenced music that she is largely responsible for popularising. Further details of her career can be found in a very good, if now slightly out of date, article at Saharan Vibe.

The album in question is "Pika Pende", released in 1999. Here are the title track and "Bantu Tabalayi" which - if I have interpreted the French sleeve notes correctly - features one Lassa Landu on guest vocals. Mind you, the sleeve notes also claim that Bill Clinton was responsible for "animations", so I am not sure they can be relied on.

"Pika Pende" - Tshala Muana

"Bantu Tabalayi" - Tshala Muana

Here she is in action with some enchanting dancing girls and what appears to be random backdrops of Las Vegas.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Carlyto's Way

I was in Brussels working on Monday and Tuesday, but managed to carve out an hour from my busy schedule to head over to Matonge to sample the excellent selection of Congolese CDs at "Musicanova". Unfortunately it was shut. And although the stock was still there and there was a hand-written sign on the door saying they would be opening soon, there was an awful lot of post piling up on the floor. It does not look too promising. Does anyone know what is happening?

Fortunately the trader above the mobile phone shop at the entrance to Galerie d'Ixelles was still going, and I was able to pick up a couple of CDs, one by Tshala Muana and the other by someone I have never previously heard of, Carlyto Lassa. The CD in question is called "Africa Na Moto" and it was released in 1997.

I have not been able to find out much about Carlyto, apart from the fact that he sang with the famous OK Jazz in the late 1980s. Some websites I have looked at describe his solo style as "soukous-gospel", but I am not sure that applies to this CD. My French is poor - and my Lingala is not that hot either - but to me it sounds like he is singing of romantic love not spiritual love. Perhaps he moved on to gospel music later in his career.

Here are a couple of tracks that caught my ear on first listen this morning. I really like the guitar work, particularly the slightly fuzzy guitar that comes in at about 5:30 on "Chatelet". According to the sleeve notes there are six guitarists on the album - Popolipo, Dizzy, Lokassa, Dally, Caen and Carlyto himself. I don't know which one to give the credit to.

"Chatelet" - Carlyto Lassa

"Michokoto Wa Michongo" - Carlyto Lassa

I know it is probably wrong or unnatural, but when I heard the little motif at the beginning of "Michokoto Wa Michongo", I immediately thought of the litle motif at the beginning of this top tune from Icy Spicy Leoncie. I wouldn't be surprised to find that Popolipo is responsible for the guitar break as well.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Gregory Isaacs R.I.P.

Things are getting seriously bad. We lost Solomon Burke a couple of weeks back, and now The Cool Ruler himself has gone at the age of 59. As a small but totally inadequate tribute to one of the finest and most distinctive singers in any genre, here are just a few of my many personal favourites.

"Can't Get Over Losing You" - Gregory Isaacs

"Raving Tonight" - Gregory Isaacs

"Gi Me" - Gregory Isaacs

"Slow Down" - Gregory Isaacs

And here he is in an uncredited supporting role, as Dr Alimantado samples "My Religion" on his magnificently bonkers "Best Dressed Chicken In Town" album.

"Unitone Skank" - Dr Alimantado



Sunday, 24 October 2010

Sunday Afternoon In Memphis

I have always fancied visiting Memphis, but having listened to these lads I am not so sure any more. It sounds like wall to wall misery.

"Sunday Afternoon In Memphis" - Steve Dixon

"It's Crying Time In Memphis" - Joe Simon

"When Morning Comes To Memphis" - Jerry Jaye

"Meanwhile Back In Memphis" - Johnny Darrell

After that you need a bit of light relief. Here is the redoubtable Mrs Miller with her unique reinterpretation of the Chuck Berry standard.

"Memphis" - Mrs Miller

And here's Chuck showing her how to do it properly.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Thai Two

Last time out we brought you some Thai disco from the 1970s. Today we are going back a decade to feature a couple of selections from the highly groovy "Thai Beat A Go Go" series of CDs released on Subliminal Sounds five years or so ago. Both are belted out by the ever perky Sodsai Chaengkij.

"Shake Baby Shake" - Sodsai Chaengkij

"The Boat That I Row" - Sodsai Chaengkij

You will have spotted immediately that the second selection was a Lulu cover. Here is the marmalising midget with the original. She is sporting an extraordinary collar and cuffs.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Bangkok Boogie

Something a bit special for you today - 1970s disco from Thailand, courtesy of the compilers of "Thai Funk - Zud Rang Ma Volume 1" (there are two other volumes). It is a fantastic listen, and well worth tracking down if you can. I am told there were only 1300 copies made so I am not sure how easy that will be. I picked up my copy in trendy Williamsburg a month or so back and have been enjoying it regularly since.

Of the eighteen tracks on the album about a third are slightly wonky cover versions of Western hits, including one by James Brown, two by Boney M, and these two which you will recognise straight away.

"Kod Hang Kam" - Kana TNT

"Chown Tur Ten Rum" - Pranee Thanasri

To my mind "Kod Hang Kam" is a great improvement on the original as you can enjoy the tune without having to listen to the pompous words. But for me probably the best, and certainly the most distinctive, track on the album is this next one, which has a bit of a Krautrock feel to it. Either that or very early Human League played at slightly the wrong speed.

"Disco Tour" - Nakplang Krumklowna

The Boney M covers were of their disco rendition of Bobby Hebb's "Sunny" and of this all time classic.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Stan The Man

A month or so back I picked up "Tchink Attack", the 1995 CD by one Stan Tohon from Benin. According to the sleeve notes, Stan is "the creator and auto-proclaimed king" of tchink, a style which is "based upon the meeting of traditional rhythms - tchinkoume - played on water percussions (gotta, sihoun etc) and western electric instruments".

It would appear from the photo on the back cover that Stan also has a vibrant stage show, which involves him man-handling midgets.

I rather presumptuously thought that I might be the first to bring Stan's work to the interweb, but reckoned without the redoubtable Oro and his/her blog. Oro is based in Porto Novo in Benin and specialises in music from that country, with regular trips to elsewhere in West Africa. Earlier this week Oro featured Stan's 1984 album, "Le Roi Du Tchink System", which is well worth a listen. As is everything else that Oro posts.

So, coming in a distant second, here are a couple of tracks from "Tchink Attack".

"Devaluation" - Stan Tohon

"Djessoudo" - Stan Tohon

And here is a clip of Stan miming to his hit single "Asheo". It is quite sedate until an enormous arse suddenly appears out of nowhere after 38 seconds.


Friday, 15 October 2010

Especially For Dogs

Yesterday I was reading a review of Mavis Staples' new, Jeff Tweedy produced, album "You Are Not Alone" - which sounds worth checking out - and it mentioned that the mighty Kelly Hogan is one of the backing vocalists.

If, like me, you consider Kelly to be one of the finest vocalists of this or any era, any appearance is welcome. It has been slim pickings for far too long. Since her last album, "Because It Feel Good", was released in 2001 we have had to get by on guest appearances and one-off tracks on compilation albums. To me it is inexplicable that someone that good has not had the opportunity to record an album for nearly a decade. Hopefully that will get put right some time soon.

I bought both Kelly's albums on Bloodshot Records - "Because It Feel Good" and its even better predecessor "Beneath The Country Underdog" - when they came out, and for a few years was under the impression that "Underdog" was her solo debut. Then I found out about the hard to find 1996 album "The Whistle Only Dogs Can Hear", released on Long Play Records of Atlanta.

After years of fruitless searching I finally tracked a copy down on Ebay a few months ago and have been meaning to feature it ever since. It is the usual Hogan mix of indie, country, soul and cabaret. Here are a couple of cover versions from the album - the first by Vic Chesnutt, the second a lovely take on Toussaint McCall's deep soul standard.

"Soft Picasso" - Kelly Hogan

"Nothing Takes The Place Of You" - Kelly Hogan

And here's a great clip of Kelly and an outfit called Pardner doing Conway & Loretta's "You're The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly". Check out the marvellous scripted ad-lib at 2:30.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Heidi Hi!

I have just come back from working in Geneva for a few days - it was nice enough but probably better in the heights of summer or depths of winter. This was my first ever visit to Switzerland so I had wanted to mark the occasion by posting some local music to create a fondue of fabulous sounds. But my Swiss selection is pretty limited. As far as I can tell, this is it:

"Hedi's Head" - Kleenex

"Die Matrosen" - Liliput

That's all there is. Not so much as a sniff of Yello, yodelling or The Young Thingummies (I can't remember their name but Mr F will know who I mean). So instead let's round things out with a couple of cracking tunes from fellow travellers of Kleenex/ Liliput.

"Aerosol Burns" - Essential Logic

"No One's Little Girl" - The Raincoats (the original version from "Moving", not the 1995 remake)

If I was to extend my Swiss selection, I would almost definitely not start with this lot.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Solomon Burke R.I.P.

Sad News - the King of Rock and Soul is dead.

"If You Need Me" - Solomon Burke

"Shame On Me" - Solomon Burke





Friday, 8 October 2010

Jolly Good Fellows

I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself for the last few days. I have been ill, the telly blew up, and the bosses at work have been acting like arses. Then this came on and all of a sudden the world was a wonderful place again.

"Great Balls Of Fire" - The Jolly Boys

The Jolly Boys are a veteran mento band, mento being a Jamaican folk music which is a sort of mix of ska and calypso. They have existed in one form or another since 1955, and legend has it that they were given their name by Errol Flynn. More details can be found on their website.

Earlier this year they released "Great Expectation", an album of weird and wonderful cover versions of the likes of Steely Dan, Amy Winehouse, Blondie, The Stranglers, The Doors and others (but not "Great Balls Of Fire"). They don't all work, but when they come off you can't help but grin. Here are a couple of examples.

"I Fought The Law" - The Jolly Boys

"The Passenger" - The Jolly Boys

Enjoy the video of their excellent version of "Rehab", featuring the amazing, MacGowanesque teeth of lead singer Albert Minott.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Melo

I had not intended to post today, but we have had a special request which I am only too pleased to address. One FredrikO - clearly a man of singular taste - has understandably been very taken with the cover of Lord Melody's 1960s album "Mas Is Devil Power", and has asked me to repost the track from that album that was originally featured in August last year.

I'm delighted to do so. To my mind Lord Melody (real name Fitzroy Alexander) was one of the greatest classic calypsonians, second only to his great friend and rival Mighty Sparrow. So, just for old Fred, here are three tracks from "Mas Is Devil Power".

"Bimini Gal" - Lord Melody

"In The Name Of The Law" - Lord Melody

"Tar Baby" - Lord Melody

As a special bonus, here is Sparrow's tribute to the great man, recorded after his untimely death from cancer in 1988. I have to admit I tend to well up a bit when I listen to this, so please excuse any damp patches on the screen.

"Play One For Melo" - Mighty Sparrow

This is the only clip I have been able to find of Melo in action.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Return To Venda

As regular readers will know I have a deep and abiding love of the music of the Tsonga people. The Tsonga - or the Shangaan as they are sometimes called, after the largest sub-group - live primarily in the Limpopo Province in the north-east of South Africa, southern Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

A little over to the west - pretty much next door in fact - in northern Limpopo and southern Zimbabwe - you will find the Venda. If you believe the guide to the official languages of South Africa, the Venda are people very much after my own heart as "there is always something for the hard-working people to look forward to after working all day in the fields and that is music, a few drinks and dancing".

Until his untimely death in 2007 at the age of only 36, Zimbabwe-born Amon Mvula was one of the leading lights of the Venda music scene. Apparently he was a memorable live performer, the highlight of the set being the "bicycle dance", during which he spun a bicycle wheel on his hands, face and belt buckle. Quite why, who knows.

Here are a couple of tracks from his album "50/50", released the year he died. It was produced by Zozo (of Sangere Beat fame), and you can hear his influence quite clearly in the music.

"Thase" - Amon Mvula

"Mme Anga" - Amon Mvula

From Zozo to Dino. Here he is with a swingin' version of that old traditional song, "Venda Red Red Robin".

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Freaky Greeks

Last time out we brought you some Turkish psychedelia from the 1970s. To avoid accusations of bias, here are assorted Greeks from the same era, all of a vaguely folk-rock persuasion. Most if not all of these tracks were originally acquired via the estimable Hippy DJKit, a regular source of great sounds.

"To Taxidi Tis Zois" - Agapanthos

"Psanno Na Vro To Filo Mou" - Poll

"O Pio Kalos Tragoudistis" - Kostas Tournas

Greeks. On a Sunday. You know what's coming next.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Freaky Turks

A real treat for you today - two selections from "Turkish Freakout (Psych-Folk Singles 1969-1980)", released earlier this year on the punningly-named Bouzouki Joe label. It is an excellent compilation, and highly recommended. It's available for download on iTunes and in CD and vinyl form via Amazon (at least in the UK).

Many of the big names of the Turkish psych scene are present and correct - Erkin Koray, Cem Karaca, Baris Manco etc - but here are a couple of corkers from some of the lesser lights.

"Esmerim" - Beyaz Kelebekler (1976)

"Bebek" - Sevil & Ayla (1974)

In an only vaguely similar style, here are Kavaret (if you are in Israel) or Poogy (as they were known everywhere else for some reason) in 1973 with the fantastic "Yo Ya".

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

North Of The Border

Last time out we featured some Mexicans. Here are some songs about what happens when they head north.

"Across The Borderline" - Willie Nelson

"California Snow" - Dave Alvin

"Who's Gonna Build Your Wall" - Tom Russell

"California Snow" is a Dave Alvin/ Tom Russell co-write. I prefer Dave's version, but Tom's is pretty good too. As you can see from this clip.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Mexican Frying An Egg

So was in the Bronx the other week, strolling up from Belmont to the Fordham Metro-North station, when I came across a man selling Mexican and other latin CDs for $5 a go. I bought a couple more or less at random, never having heard of most of the acts he stocked.

The first CD, by an Argentinian calling himself King Africa, was pretty awful - a South American version of that Austrian who did the dreadful remake of "Hey Baby". The second - a 1995 compilation called "Mas Furia De Los Exitos" - was much better. Released out of Miami on Rodven Records, with one exception it consists entirely of Mexican bands. The exception is the first of today's selections - Los Fantasmas Del Caribe from Venezuela.

"Celina" - Los Fantasmas Del Caribe

"Aguita De Melon" - Fito Olivares

As I say, the CD is pretty good. But I has been hoping for more traditionally Mexican. Like this.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sandy Sunday

Look - two songs with the same name! The first is by Ramona Jones (nee Riggins), wife of old-timey country star, Grandpa Jones. The second is by Robin Williamson of Incredible String Band fame.

"Sandy Land" - Ramona Jones (1964 single, available on Grandpa Jones' Bear Family box set "Everybody's Grandpa")

"Sandy Land" - Robin Williamson (from "Myrrh", 1972)

On the subject of Sandy, here are Sandy & Papo, the MCs from the Dominican Republic who pioneered the Merengue House sound back in the mid 1990s (according to Spanish Wikipedia).

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Arrow R.I.P.

I belatedly learned last night that the mighty Arrow died ten days ago. I was lucky enough to see him perform live in London a couple of times in the late 1980s, once at the Astoria and once at the Hackney Empire. He was at the peak of his powers then, and it was impossible not to dance. Even Mr F was seen to shuffle his feet a little.

Real name Alphonsus Cassell, and one of Montserrat's greatest exports, Arrow was sadly struck down by cancer at the age of 60. Which isn't really a long time at all.

"Long Time" - Arrow

"Columbia Rock" - Arrow

Here he is with the hit.



And as an arrow-related bonus, here is Leapy Lee. I saw him live once as well, when I was about ten or eleven, on a double bill with the New Seekers. Great gig!