Sunday, 25 March 2012

Gone Fishin'

This is my last post for a few weeks as I am about to head off on my annual jaunt to South Africa. I will hopefully come back laden down with Tsonga disco CDs and other goodies. Here are some sunny sounds to keep you company until I get back.

"Gone Fishin'" - General Johnson & The Chairmen Of The Board

"Flying South" - Hank Locklin

"Johannesburg" - The Julian Laxton Band

"C'est Bon Pour Le Moral" - La Compagnie Créole

"Sugar Jam" - Lord Melody

"Dial Your Number" - Caiaphus Semenya

"Crystal Blue Persuasion" - The Kelly Brothers

"Papagallo Baby" - Václav Neckář

"Rasta Chick" - Explainer

"Fela" - Hugh Masekela

And now, the traditional clip that I put up every time I go on holiday. I always play this before setting off just to get myself in the right frame of mind. Just listen to the beatbox they will play.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

ReviewShine Round-Up

It is that time of month again when we feature some of the albums sent to us via those nice folks and ReviewShine (with the usual apologies to those we have not featured).

Pride of place this month goes to what is probably the best new album I have heard so far this year:  "Ghost of Browder Holler" by Chelle Rose. Browder Holler is down in East Tennessee, which is where Chelle herself is from. She really makes the place come alive with a very nice line in character and story songs of the South of the sort you associate with Tony Joe White, Larry Jon Wilson and James "No Middle Name" McMurtry. In other words, bloody good songs.

Vocally and stylistically the immediate comparison is with Lucinda Williams. But while Chelle has a fair bit of Big Lucy about her, it does not take long for her own personality to come through. It seems pretty clear that she has lived many of these songs.

The album comes out on 1 May on Lil' Damsel records. Make sure you get it.

"Shady Grove Gonna Blow" - Chelle Rose

Next up is Audrey Auld, originally from Tasmania - you know, where the devils come from - but based in Nashville for many years now. She has been releasing albums on her own Reckless Records for 14 years or so, and has recently released a twenty track retrospective called "Resurrection Moon" which is well worth checking out. This next track is a particular favourite of mine.

"Bolinas" - Audrey Auld

Third in the line-up today, Sam Cash from Toronto - you know, where the Torontonians come from - who has a long way to go to catch up with Audrey. Earlier this month he released his debut album "Teenage Hunger". I particularly like this song, which has a slight touch of Josh Rouse about it.

"September" - Sam Cash

And the last stop on this whistle-stop tour is "Reverb and Tambourine", an album by Jon Reid released on Monday by Shell from a Shadow records. Jon is from Asheville, North Carolina, a town where I spent a very enjoyable few days back in 1999 or thereabouts. And now I have a reason to go back. The whole album is pretty good, but the arrangement on this one makes it stand out for me.

"Ode to Common Things" - Jon Reid

Speaking of Asheville, here is a clip of Ray Wylie Hubbard performing there a couple of years back. What makes this a most appropriate choice for today is the fact that old Ray Wylie H produced the Chelle Rose album I was raving about earlier, and he is covering James "No Middle Name" McM with whom I drew comparison. With links like that, the call up for Radio 2 can only be a matter of time.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

All Around The World

Fortunately you don't see so much of that dreadful term "world music" any more. But every now and then you get a record for which it is vaguely appropriate. One such is Kiran Ahluwalia's album, "Aam Zameen: Common Ground".

Kiran was born in India, raised in Canada and now lives in New York. She generally sings Punjabi folk tunes and traditional ghazals. Last year she went to France and the UK to record sessions with Tuareg legends Tinariwen and "new nomads on the block" Terakaft. The results are stunning.

"Rabba Ru" - Kiran Ahluwalia

"Mustt Mustt" (Extended Version) - Kiran Ahluwalia (featuring Tinariwen)

To follow that, we bring you a truly unique fusion of the West Midlands dialect, French chanson and crap.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Scrag Ends

I apologise to the makers of what follows for referring to their finely wrought work as scrag ends (well, I apologise to all of them apart from Plastic Bertrand). I use that heading because I am attempting to clear the decks a bit before I go off to Cape Town next week, and what follows are assorted odds and ends I have been meaning to post for a while. And now I am.

We start off with a new discovery, for me at least. I have mentioned previously the First Aid Kit gig I went to last month. Support that night came from Samantha Crain, a performer from Oklahoma with Choctaw heritage, with whom I was sufficiently impressed to start tracking her music down. This is from her 2010 album, "You (Understood)".

"Sante Fe" - Samantha Crain

Next we have three bands who have kindly sent me their latest recordings recently. First up is the Cinnamon Band, a guitar/drums duo from Virginia who are three months into a project to issue a new cover version every month for the year. Despite doing their best to antagonise me by claiming to have "the raw anthemic power of early U2", they make up for it with an excellent choice of covers and a total absence of Bono. I particularly like this rendition of the Roches' "Hammond Song".

"Hammond Song" - The Cinnamon Band

The other two are fighting it out for the silliest name of the week, if not the year. In the red corner we have I Used To Be A Sparrow, who at least have the excuse of being half-Italian and half-Swedish. Their debut album "Luke" came out last week.  In the blue corner, all the way from Melbourne, is Skipping Girl Vinegar. This recent single is taken from their album "Keep Calm, Carry The Monkey". Both acts sound like something from the 1980s to me, but that may just be because time stopped for me around then and I can't comprehend the idea of anything being more modern than that.

"Cambodia" - I Used To Be A Sparrow

"Chase The Sun" - Skipping Girl Vinegar

Another silly name for a band is Hairy Nose, whose CD single I picked up in the record shop in Gare Midi station in Brussels last week, as part of a "5 CD singles for €1" special offer. Unfortunately it was rubbish, so instead you are getting the pick of the bunch - a rather groovy throwback to 1970s disco from 2003 courtesy of the Franco-Swedish ensemble, Geyster. On the same visit I splashed out another €1 on a compilation called "Made in Belgium", mainly lured in by the 7 minute version of "Cuba" by the Gibson Brothers. Also on the album is Plastic Bertrand's attempt at acid house. No, really, have a listen.

"Bye Bye Superman" - Geyster

"Plastiiiic" - Plastic Bertrand

Here is old Plastic back in his pomp.

And here is a rather fine cover version by some outfit called Maeder.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Tsonga Tsell-out?

We have featured Esta M, the former Queen of Tsonga Disco, here before. If you were paying attention you will recall that she was a schoolteacher who was taken under the wing of the Shangaan Svengali, Joe Shirimani, in the late 1980s and went on to enjoy many local hits over the next ten years or so.

Around the turn of the century, Esta left Joe and set off to find a new direction. This led in 2003 to the album "N'Ta Sala Na Mani". It is not Tsonga Disco in any way shape or form but, while not up to the standard she and Joe produced at their peak, it is still a decent album. These are a couple of the stronger tracks.

"Mthetho" - Esta M

"Mavunwa" - Esta M

If you miss the trademark Shirimani sound, here she is back in the old days.

"Wanavela" - Esta M

There are no Esta videos on YouTube so instead here is something I am a bit obsessed with at the moment. It has had over 40 million hits - about a third of them from me.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Covering The World

I was out with a couple of friends last night and the talk turned to unusual cover versions we have known and loved. When I trumped their efforts with the Thai rendition of Boney M's 'Rasputin' they foolishly asked me to put together a collection for them.

If you want the full collection click on this for the link. Many of the songs have featured here before. Here are three that haven't (as best I can remember): a bunch of Italians tackling 'Simon Says'; a marching band doing a surprisingly fine version of 'All Right Now'; and the pick of the bunch, a Dylan impersonator interpreting Dr Seuss in the style of 'Highway 61 Revisited'. 

"Il Ballo Di Simone" - Guiliano & I Notturni

"All Right Now" - The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band

"Green Eggs And Ham" - Dylan Hears A Who

And if, after that last one, you are saying to yourself "How ridiculous! Bob Dylan would never stoop to covering kid's stuff", then you clearly have never seen this:

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


I have just spent 24 hours in Paris, mostly working but I did have an hour spare to visit the fancy shops in Rue Daguerre (and the local Maison d'Oxfam as well). In the first place I went into the assistant tried to engage me in conversation. My French being very poor I just waved my arm around and replied "just looking". "Ah!", she said, "dans tezitete".

It was not a phrase I had heard before and assumed that it was the French equivalent of "just looking". So when I found myself in the same position in the next shop I waved my arm around and said with great confidence "dans tezitete". I was met with incomprehension, as I was again the next time I used the phrase. Eventually it finally dawned on me that what the first shop assistant had actually said, in heavily accented English, was "don't hesitate". Quelle prat!

Anyway, the best bit about the visit was the very enjoyable meal I had with my old friend Jeni, who I have known since she was a slip of a girl, and her husband Christoph. They have lived in Paris for ten years or so now and I only get to see them once a year on average. Today's selection of songs is dedicated to Jeni. And as none of them are spelt the same way I will also dedicate them to my equally marvellous, and correctly spelt, cousin Jenny. Especially this first one, obviously.

"Cousin Jennifer" - Mighty Sparrow

"Poor Jenny" - The Everly Brothers

"Jenny, Miss Genius" - Los Brincos

"Jenny Artichoke" - Kaleidoscope

"Jennifer Juniper" - Donovan

"Jennie" - Richard Thompson

"Cotton Jenny" - Gordon Lightfoot

"Jennifer Eccles" - The Hollies

Jeni, as well as being a wonderful woman in her own right, is also the proud possessor of a 16 year old nephew called Coolio. Really. Named after this one, presumably.

Sunday, 11 March 2012


Last Thursday I went to the Barbican to see the reformed Jayhawks in concert (with the added bonus of a solo Chuck Prophet in support). I thought it took them a few numbers to get up to speed, but when they did they were excellent. It was a well chosen set with a good mixture of old favourites and what are now new favourites like "She Walks In So Many Ways".

The encore was a particular highlight, starting with drummer Tim O'Reagan's "Tampa to Tulsa" and finishing with "Waiting For The Sun". Sandwiched in between was a surprising funky version of this track from Mark Olson & the Creekdippers' "December's Child".

"How Can I Send Tonight There To Tell You" - Mark Olson & The Creekdippers

I had the great pleasure of seeing Mark Olson and Victoria Williams playing as the Creekdippers in the early 2000s. It was ramshackle but utterly captivating, and it remains the only time  have heard a banjo played with a wah wah pedal. On record I never thought they quite delivered on the enormous talent in the line-up, apart from on the excellent "My Own Jo Ellen". Here are a couple of tracks from that album.

"Letter From Africa" - Mark Olson & The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers

"Linda Lee" - Mark Olson & The Original Harmony Ridge Creekdippers

Here they are doing "She Walks In So Many Ways" on Letterman a few months ago, and sounding uncannily like the Byrds on the verses.

Thursday, 8 March 2012


Selda Bagcan is an Anatolian folk singer best known outside Turkey for her 1975 LP "Turkulermiz 2", re-released a few years ago on Finders' Keepers as "Selda". It is a classic album that makes good use of the talents of the likes of Turkish psych ensembles Mogollar and Dadaslar, allied to her own great voice.

Selda's other recordings are not that easy to track down over here so you can imagine how delighted I was when, in Trabzon last year, the nice man in the local DVD shop downloaded a load of her albums onto a CD for me for the princely sum of £1 (or thereabouts). As today's small selection shows, she was making great music before and long after "Turkulermiz 2".

"Kalenin Dibinde Tas Ben Olaydim" - Selda Bagcan (1972)

"Dost Merhaba" - Selda Bagcan (1986)

"Bir Besiktas Tramvayi" - Selda Bagcan (1997)

And here are some more Turks.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The 27 Leggies Guide to Rabbit Breeding

Stage 1: No bunny

"Blow Dumb" - Nobunny

Stage 2: One bunny

"Eyes Of A Painter" - Bunny Sings Wolf

Stage 3: Several bunnies

"Boderation" - Bunny Wailer

"Ready When You Ready" - Bunny Wailer

"Quit Trying" - Bunny Wailer

Stage 4: More rabbit than Sainsbury's

"Rabbit" - Chas & Dave

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Soul on Sunday

We will keep it short and very, very sweet today. We are long overdue some Southern soul on here, and there weren't many who did it better than George Perkins.

"Cryin' In The Streets" - George Perkins & The Silver Stars

"A Man In Love" - George Perkins

"How Sweet It Would Be" - George Perkins

I couldn't find any clips of George in action, so here is a fantastic clip of the mighty Joe Tex back in 1965 instead.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Large In Lima

What better way to ease us into March than with some Peruvian psychedelia? Some of these tracks are from the two-volume "Back To Peru" compilation. Some of them aren't. That's just the way it goes.

"Apocallypsies (Beginning And End)" - Gerardo Manuel & El Humo

"Glue" - New Juggler Sound

"Camina, No Vueles" - Los Far Fen

"Haces Mal Pobre Chico" - Zulu

"White Deal/ Poco/ Big Deal" - Traffic Sound

And here is the traditional Peruvian dance the Zamacueca, performed by some traditional Peruvians.

For a special treat, here's another traditional dance.