Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Bring On The Nubians

Short but sweet today. Here are a couple of ace tracks from Ali Hassan Kuban, the late Godfather of Nubian music. Born near Aswan in 1929, he found fame and fortune after his family moved to Cairo. These selections come from an album called "Walk Like a Nubian", released in 1994. He died seven years later.

"Habibi" - Ali Hassan Kuban

"Tamin Qalbak Ya Habibi" - Ali Hassan Kuban

The Nubians are an ethnic group from southern Egypt and northern Sudan. Other prominent Nubians include the Mahdi, Anwar Sadat and this fellow.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Keanes of Caherlistrane

I have just come back from a few days in Westport, County Mayo (on the west coast of Ireland). While there I picked up a copy of "The Home Place", the recently released debut album by Orlaith Keane.

Orlaith is the latest addition to the Keanes of Caherlistrane. The Keanes are the Irish equivalent of the Carter family, or the Copper and Waterson families in England, spawning several generations of gifted singers. Orlaith is the niece of Dolores and Sean. Here is one apiece from the three of them. You can immediately tell that Orlaith and Dolores are related. Uncle Sean guests on the pipes on "Florence". His own contribution today is, of course, a Gillian Welch cover.

"Florence" - Orlaith Keane

"Teddy O'Neill" - Dolores Keane

"Barroom Girls" - Sean Keane

Caherlistrane is in County Galway, just a couple of miles from the border with Mayo. About six miles away over the border is the town of Tuam. When I first went to Mayo in the late 1980s I fell madly in love with a cassette single by a band from Tuam that was only available locally. A year or so later a remade version of the song got a wider release and set them off on a career that endures today. This was that song.

"I Useta Lover" - The Saw Doctors

While driving over to Mayo we stopped in Mullingar, County Westmeath, to pay homage at the statue of the late, great Joe Dolan. I had expected it to be on a plinth but I was wrong - and quite rightly as Joe was never one to put himself above his fans. Of course it does mean that all sorts of eejits pose next to him.

Here is Joe at his finest.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Time For Mr Shine

Tomorrow I'm off to the west of Ireland for a long weekend. What better way to get myself in the mood than by listening to Brendan Shine, a man renowned for his social and political commentary and poignant insights into the lives of Ireland's rural population.

"Murphy's Dancing Pig" is clearly a savage indictment of the system of Irish political patronage, while "Are You Diggin' Them, Dillon?" exposes the fact that the wealth of Dublin (the "great big ugly goat") was built largely on the labours of the rural poor.

And if all that is a bit heavy for you, you might enjoy listening to Brendan rocking out on "Bold O'Donoghue" - it could be Thin Lizzy!

"Murphy's Dancing Pig" - Brendan Shine

"Are You Diggin' Them, Dillon?" - Brendan Shine

"Bold O'Donoghue" - Brendan Shine

"Catch Me If You Can" - Brendan Shine

And here a younger Brendan tackles the perennial scourge of alcoholism head on in his usual sensitive way.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Bad Lux Story

I went to Luxembourg for a day's work yesterday. There was a bit of free time in my schedule, which I intended to use to track down some examples of the no doubt vibrant Luxembourg music scene to share with you today.

Unfortunately my Luxair flight was four and a half hours late setting off, which meant that I arrived there early afternoon, went to a meeting, then turned round and came home again.

To add to my frustration, it turns out that large chunks of the no doubt vibrant Luxembourg music scene were playing pretty much on my doorstep a few weeks ago - more details are available from the self-explanatory "Music from Luxembourg Live in Britain" website.

I am sure you must be as frustrated as I am. Let's try to work our way through it with some excellent funky soul from the 1970s.

"Ape Is High" - Mandrill

"House Of Wood" - Mandrill

You may not be aware that plucky Luxembourg has won the Eurovision Song Contest four times, including successive victories in 1972 and 1973. However it must be said that the home-grown content was somewhat limited. Three of the four winning singers were French and the other, Vicky Leandros, was Greek. And this rather groovy winning entry from 1965 was written by that legendary Luxembourger Serge Gainsbourg.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

ReviewShine Round-Up

Before we get to the music, a brief public service announcement. It has been brought to my attention that there has been a bit of a hoo-hah about some bloggers turning out not to be who they claimed they were. In the interests of transparency, I feel I should reveal that my real name is not Ernie Goggins and that is not a picture of me in the top right corner (that is actually Penny Penny, the Tsonga disco king). I won't go so far as to reveal my true identify but suffice to say I am a Syrian lesbian and feel the need for some discretion.

Now back to business. It is time for one of our irregular round-ups of some of the many fine artists whose latest albums have made their way to me courtesy of ReviewShine. As before I feel I should apologise to those I feature, and even more those I don't feature, for not doing them justice. There is simply too much good stuff out there to cope with.

First up is the charming Kathryn Caine from Charlottesville, Virginia. A former Shakespearean scholar and London busker, Kathryn now devotes her time to making really good music in a broadly bluegrass and country style. Her current album, "Down Home Girl", is available via Bandcamp as well as all the usual outlets. This track, currently my favourite, is all about the Caine family farm in North Carolina. Listening to it is the next best thing to being there.

"Honeyhill" - Kathryn Caine

In a similar style, although with the folk influences perhaps a bit more prominent, is "These Open Roads", the debut album from Haroula Rose. Originally from Chicago but now based in LA, Haroula deserted both cities and headed off to Athens, Georgia to record the album. It features members of the Drive By Truckers, Neutral Milk Hotel and others, and her songs and singing are very worthy of the cast list.

"Free To Be Me" - Haroula Rose

Sean Hunting Morse is originally from Denver and that was where he recorded "Lines From Someplace", which I suppose you would classify as a mini-album (there are only seven tracks). Apart from a couple of jazz-tinged numbers which I was less keen on, not being a great one for the jazz, it is a good strong set of folk/blues songs. "Malibu" is a particular highlight.

"Malibu" - Sean Hunting Morse

Moving on to something slighter rougher-edged now, you ought to check out "Beyond The Ark" by Mike McGuire. I know nothing at all about Mike, but judging by the sound and subject matter of his songs I would guess he has been going for awhile, has maybe had a few ups and downs along the way, but will keep on going to the end of the road. For me the overall feel is very reminiscent of Otis Gibbs (a very good thing) but without the extravagent beard (maybe not such a good thing, it depends on your views on beards).

"Military Time" - Mike McGuire

And finally, something I can only describe as indescribable - "Dead Dog on a Highway" by The Dad Horse Experience. Dad Horse Ottn (which I very much doubt is the name his poor parents gave him) is a German musician who mixes up country, polka and other oom-pah-pah noises with a bit of the punk spirit, and sings them all in a voice that hints ever so slightly at his German origins. It doesn't always work - there are one or two tracks on the album that I struggled to get through - but when it does it is strangely beguiling. Apparently the album's producer has previously worked with the Holmes Brothers, and you can see a certain similarity in the overall sound. I found the religious numbers the most enjoyable, like his take on Hank's "I Saw The Light" and this next one. See what you think.

"Kingdom It Will Come" - The Dad Horse Experience

To finish, let's go back to where we started. Here's Kathryn Caine and friends with a very lively take on the old Tom Paxton standard, "The Last Thing On My Mind".

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Guinea Gold

I have a copy of a compilation album of music from Guinea, released on SonoAfrica last year. The version I have is called "Guinee Compil: Rendezvous", and the sleeve notes etc are all in French. When you stick it into the Gracenotes thingy it comes up as "Guinea Vibrations", but the track listing is the same. Presumably it was issued under different names in different territories.

Whatever it is called it is well worth checking out. There are some familiar names on there, the likes of Mory Kante and Fode Baro. But most of them were new to me, and a very high proportion of them are very good indeed. Here are a couple of examples.

"Sokho" - Fode Kouyate

"Nnakaman" - Mory Djeli

Here is Mory Djeli and his mates in action near what appears to be a hotel swimming pool.

And here is Fode Kouyate in the gardens of a different hotel with some lovely ladies. When they get together with the lads in Mory's video it must be party time.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Tsonga Disco: Maile

We're back with some long overdue Tsonga Disco. Today we bring you someone new to 27 Leggies - Maile and his 1998 album, "Vat En Sit". "Vat En Sit" is an Afrikaans expression used colloquially to mean what the dictionaries would call "cohabitation" (or, as we used to call it in the old days, "living in sin").

I know nothing about Maile beyond what I have been able to work out from the details on the sleeve. His full name appears to be Maile Mokhwati and he is/ was a protege of the late great Peta Teanet. The album was issued by EMI under licence from Mac-Villa Music (Peta's old production company), and includes a cover version of Peta's "Tsontsokile". The final track is called "Teanet", and is presumably a tribute to Peta who had died in 1996. I have no idea whether he made any other records.

Production duties are handled by Lefty Rhikoto, leader of Mordillo, a band that first came to prominence backing Peta's predecessor as the King of Tsonga/ Shangaan Disco, the equally late if not quite equally great Paul Ndlovu. The sound is mostly fairly conventional 1990s Tsonga Disco, although there is a bit of a kwaito influence on a couple of tracks.

Here are my personal favourites from "Vat En Sit". "Damarisa" in particular is a real stomper.

"Damarisa" - Maile

 "Bomba" - Maile

There is no Maile on YouTube. But there is Mai Tai.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Great Danes

Something fairly new to start things off today, with thanks to John at Safety First Records who tipped me off to "Must We Find A Winner", the new album by Klak Tik. Although apparently first released last year, it will only be available on iTunes and all the usual outlets from tomorrow. I would recommend you find time in your busy diaries to wander over there and check it out.

The driving force behind Klak Tik is one Soren Bonke, a Danish singer/ songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist. The band itself appear to be based in East London, as am I and at least one of our regular readers. We will need to keep an eye out for characters carrying chairs around for no good reason, as it might be them.

The band describe their music as "sparse and tender folk tunes expanded to produce multi-layered, pseudo-orchestral pieces of music", which seems a fairly good description to me. For those of you who prefer direct comparisons, there is a definite Midlake/ Fleet Foxes vibe to much of the album, and I would think fans of those bands will like this a lot. For older farts like me, there is also a whiff of Caravan and other bands from the pastoral strain of early English prog-rock, which is no bad thing in moderation. I liked it the first time I listened to it, and I liked it more the second time - on which flimsy basis I am prepared to stick my neck out and call it a grower.

"Kneel To Avoid Beheading" - Klak Tik

"Carpet Swept" - Klak Tik

Also from Denmark, but a lot older, are Bifrost. Active from 1976 to 1987, I picked up their self-titled debut album for a few pounds while in Copenhagen recently. The fact that they are named after the bridge that joins the world to the realm of the Gods in Norse mythology, the copious references to Christiania in the Danish language sleeve notes, and this album cover led me to hope it would be fairly freaky.

I was disappointed. It turned out to be fairly bog standard 1970s rock. But not without its moments. Here are a couple of the highlights.

"Idaho" - Bifrost

"Vandringssangen" - Bifrost

Rather better on the Danish hippy front were The Savage Rose. I picked up a few of their albums while in Copenhagen and will do a post featuring them when I get round to it. As a taster, here they are freaking out the Norwegians in 1973.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Hats Off!

The great Roy Harper turns 70 today. He is playing a special gig at the South Bank in London to mark the occasion, to which I am lucky enough to have tickets, but that isn't happening until November. We can't wait until then. Here is a small selection of his mighty oeuvre to tide us over.

"You Don't Need Money" - Roy Harper (from "Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith", 1967)

"I'll See You Again" - Roy Harper (from "Valentine", 1974)

"Watford Gap" - Roy Harper (from "Bullinamingvase", 1977)

"Cherishing The Lonesome" - Roy Harper (from "Bullingamingvase", 1977)

"The Flycatcher" - Roy Harper (from "The Unknown Soldier", 1980)

I have also learnt that I struck lucky in the great London 2012 Olympics lucky dip and have got two tickets to the semi-final of the womens' handball tournament. Whoopee! But that is even further ahead and I don't know any songs about handball - well, do you? - so instead let's stick with Roy. Here are Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush with a very nice version of one of his standards, "Another Day". The chances of them turning up for a repeat performance in November are probably litle more than nil, but then that was what I thought were the odds of getting handball tickets, so we live in hope.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Oldies But Goodies

I will be away working from tomorrow for the best part of a week. I haven't had time to prepare anything new and interesting to tide you over, so here are some things that are old and interesting.
This is a selection of tracks that were featured way back in the early days of 27 Leggies, when the number of leggies was greater than the number of listeners. They deserve a bigger audience.

There is hopefully something for everyone here. In order: Belgian New Wave, Brazilian soul, South African jazz, Afro Zouk, Scottish folk, Jimmy Webb done reggae style, Richard Strange, groovy Texan sounds, some old punks and a stone cold classic from Curtis Mayfield. Tuck in.

"Do The Standing Still" - The Employees

"Idade" - Tim Maia

"Stokvel Gumba" - Sipho Gumede

"Femme Africaine" - Soule Ngofo Man

"The Birks of Invermay" - Karine Polwart

"Do What You Got To Do" - Pat Rhoden

"International Language" - Richard Strange

"Best Is Yet To Come" - Vince Bell

"Violence Grows" - Fatal Microbes

"Dirty Laundry" - Curtis Mayfield

And here is something that is definitely for everyone.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Look Lively Now

We seem to have been featuring a lot of very good female singer-songwriters here recently. Here is another one.

Austin-based Vanessa Lively is new to me, although she already has three albums to her name. He fourth album, "Uncovering Stones", is released on 21 June. Copies can be pre-ordered from her website now. You ought to give it some serious consideration.

While over at her website, check out the press page where there is lots of photos and interesting information, including three different versions of her biography (long, medium and short). You ought to read the long version, as she and her husband Jason have clearly led quite a life, but here is the short version as a taster:

"For a woman who thrives on jumping into the unknown with both feet, Vanessa Lively took an unusual approach to her new album, Uncovering Stones. She and her producer-husband, Jason, planned nearly every note before recording it – which they did in their Austin home, with co-producer/engineer Keith Gary. The result is a compelling mix of tempos and styles filled with hints of urban, world, Latin, funk and pop that fully captures her compassionate nature and love of community. Uncovering Stones is, in fact, all about connecting. Vanessa even painted the album art beforehand – on 42 canvas squares she sold individually to fund the 12-song disc. Lively describes its themes as “feeling other people’s struggles and joys and being connected with them.” After raking blueberries in Maine as a migrant farm worker and living in South America with her husband to do volunteer work in impoverished areas, she feels those connections deeply – and when you listen, you will, too."

Here are a couple of my favourite tracks from the new album.

"Through The Veil" - Vanessa Lively

"Follow Your Heart" - Vanessa Lively

And here they are performing the old Mercedes Sosa song, "La Maza", on "Good Morning Austin" last year. Not the sort of thing you normally associate with breakfast television, at least not in the UK, but it would definitely help the corn flakes go down smoothly.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Happy Days

We interrupt our normal programming to bring you what is essentially a dedication. Earlier this evening I had an excellent time with a couple of old pals: Steve, who I haven't seen for between three and five years, and Chris, who I haven't seen for a quarter of a century. I know what you are thinking - how can someone who is evidently so young and hip have known anyone for 25 years, let alone not seen them for that length of time. Well, kindergarten can be a formative experience, and the bonds remain strong.

Today's selection is for Chris. He may understand the significance of each track. Then again he may have forgotten. We'll find out.

"Let The World Wash In" - I Luv Wight

"Whips & Furs" - The Vibrators

"Shirley" - John Fred & His Playboys

"Amsterdam" - John Cale

"This Liberal Love" - Microdisney

And in case Steve is feeling overlooked, today's clips are for him.


Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Man Japan

While I was in South Africa a couple of months back I picked up an album called "Apojorize" by one Japan Mjay. It is a sort of soul/ mbaqanga mix, released in 1999 but sounding like it dates from ten years earlier.

My initial attempts to find out more about Japan Mjay were not very successful. He doesn't turn up on Google, and does not merit a single mention in our old friend Max Thamagana Mojapelo’s seminal work “Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music”. I was about to give up when I looked at the album credits. These suggested a connection with the mighty Soul Brothers, South Africa's leading exponents of the soul/mbaqanga sound since the mid-1970s and still going strong.

After a bit more digging, I can reveal that Japan Mjay was none other that Japan Sidoyi, a former member of  Imitshotshovu, the Soul Brothers backing band who also released a series of albums in their own right. Japan played the Hammond organ and provided backing vocals, and also guested with the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi in his spare time. He sadly passed away in 2002 at the tender age of 46.

This solo effort was produced by the Soul Brothers' Moses Ngwenya, with all songs co-written by those two and Dennis Gumede, of Dennis Gumede & The Teenagers "fame". Here are a couple of the high spots.

"Aporijize" - Japan Mjay

"Mhlekazi" - Japan Mjay

And with a degree of tedious inevitability, we move from a man called Japan to a Japanese Boy.