Sunday, 30 April 2017

Awake In Accra

Some groovy Ghanaian sounds for you tonight. Both tracks from a compilation titled "Ghana Awake Volume 1", which came out in 2011.

I haven't been able to establish whether any further volumes were ever issued - maybe it wasn't necessary if this one succeeded in getting them all up and about in Accra and out of bed in Bolgatanga.

"Konka" - Rex Omar

"Ti Dimang Be Yoli" - Ibrahim Ramatu

Also from Ghana, the delightful Daddy Lumba...

Friday, 28 April 2017

Missing Merle

It is a little over a year ago that Merle Haggard left us. And it is little over 24 hours ago I acquired one of his little remembered mid-1980s albums in a record shop (possibly the only record shop) on Jersey - 1986's "A Friend in California".

It is not absolute vintage Merle by any means, but anything with that magnificent voice on it is always going to be worth a listen. So this post is a slightly belated "one year on" dedication to the great man. And the second track is also dedicated to everyone who is being missed an awful lot at the moment - like my friend Tracy's Mum and Charity Chic's Grandpa Jim - and to everyone doing the missing.

"The Okie From Muskogee's Comin' Home" - Merle Haggard

"This Time I Really Do" - Merle Haggard

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Big In Benin

Big in Benin, and Particularly Prominent in Parakou. Some vintage African funky jumpy stuff to get you into gear on a Sunday morning, courtesy of Orchestre Super Borgou de Parakou.

"Bori Yo Se Mon Baani" - Orchestre Super Borgou de Parakou

"Gandigui" - Orchestre Super Borgou de Parakou

Here's another orchestra that was quite popular in the 1970s.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Drive Carefully

Some excellent advice here from Little Village, sadly being ignored by the boys of NRBQ.

"Don't Think About Her When You're Trying To Drive" - Little Village

"Ridin' In My Car" - NRBQ

Here is another reminder of the importance of remaining focused while driving. It is really rather creepy.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Easing Into Easter

Apologies for being a bit irregular of late, but I've been travelling for work quite a lot. Now, for a break from all that travelling, I'm about to go on holiday. As usual, we'll fill the gap with a bumper selection of tunes first featured here back in 2009, when it was just me and the tumbleweeds.

"Boom Boom Mancini" - Warren Zevon

"Walking And Talking" - R. Black & The Rockin' V's

"Psychedelphia" - Mary Jane Hooper

"Capitalism Gone Mad" - Mighty Sparrow

"Finder Finder" - Loaf Boy

"Give Me All Your Clothes" - Microdisney

"El Baul De Los Recuerdos" - Karina

"This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)" - Shawn Colvin

Normally when we do these pre-holiday posts I finish off with a clip of DJ Sven and MC Miker G. But they cropped up a couple of weeks ago after I heard that a "famous Dutch DJ" had discovered Tsonga Disco. So instead here is something that is arguably even better. Have fun, see you in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

A Garland For Garland

I went to my gig of the year to date last night. After stopping for a pint in a sports bar that our resident punk historian (Mister F) told me used to be the Nashville Rooms, we ventured a few hundred yards further into the badlands of West Kensington. There we found an unobtrusive doorway next to the Sainsbury Extra, and in we went.

Upstairs was a great little venue called Nell's Jazz and Blues, and on stage - once they had made him some temporary stairs - was a great little performer, the utterly magnificent Garland Jeffreys.

Mr Jeffreys and his excellent band are over here promoting his new album, "14 Steps to Harlem", which comes out at the end of April. The man himself reckons it is his best album since "Ghost Writer" way back in 1977. Judging by the tracks from it that he played last night, he may well be right.

I suggest you rush out and buy it as soon as it becomes available. To keep you are going until then here are a couple of old favourites and - because I'm in a good mood - a bonus, unrelated Garland.

"Wild In The Streets" - Garland Jeffreys

"New York Skyline" - Garland Jeffreys

"It Rained Forty Days And Nights" - Garland Green

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Madlaks Returns

Newer readers may glance up at the strapline at the top of the page and wonder, what is "Bringing Tsonga Disco to the Masses" meant to mean? The veterans among you will know that when I started this blog eight years or so ago, it was specifically to share my love for the dance music of the Tsonga (or Shangaan) people of South Africa and Mozambique.

Most of the time the masses have been largely indifferent - and we have long since strayed from the purity of the original mission - but every now and then their interest gets piqued. In our own small way we have helped the likes of Awesome Tapes From Africa and DJ LeBlanc spread the good word to their hip and happening audiences.

And it appears the masses are having another burst of enthusiasm. The other evening I logged on and found three emails asking for help in tracking down music by Madlaks. According to one of them a "famous Dutch DJ" had been playing "Jikavonunu", they had fallen for it as I did, and their search had led them to me.

I was particularly pleased to learn that Madlaks and his "Ndlho Ndlho" album is getting more recognition, as that was the record that first made me fall for Tsonga disco. To celebrate, here's a couple of tracks from the album that we haven't featured before.

"Angaharikona" - Madlaks

"Misavaseyiherile" - Madlaks

PS I was very disappointed to learn in a later email from the same correspondent that the famous Dutch DJ was someone called Young Marco and not, as I had hoped, DJ Sven. He's still the king!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Sweet Mother

Today is Mothering Sunday (a.k.a. Mother's Day) here in the UK, so this is for all you marvellous mothers out there. Especially Old Mother Goggins, the cream of the crop.

"Sweet Mother" - Prince Nico Mbarga

"Singing A Song For My Mother" - Hamilton Bohannon

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Chilala Land

I spent 48 hours in Lusaka last week. Needless to say, I didn't get to see very much of the place, but the locals were lovely - including this fellow I met during a brief visit to a game reserve near the airport - and hopefully there will be chance to go back to Zambia again and have a proper look around.

I didn't have the chance to go searching for sounds in central Lusaka, but I did pop into the small music shop in the arcade across the road from where I was staying. They didn't have a great selection - mostly gospel and Western pop - but I managed to find a couple of CDs that looked worth a try.

The first was "Mukachita Shani", the 2012 album by Brian Chilala. I don't know much about Brian but, if the website is to be believed, he is a former protege of Zamrock pioneer Paul Ngozi, who has featured here before. Not that Paul's influence is particularly obvious on this album.

"Kuli Zii" - Brian Chilala

"Ulupwa" - Brian Chilala

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Chuck Berry RIP

There is not much point in me burbling on about Mr Berry and his extraordinary contribution to popular music, I'm not going to tell you anything you don't know already. So here's a handful of his marvellous tunes - five covers, one original. RIP Chuck.

"Brown Eyed Handsome Man" - Buddy Holly & The Crickets

"You Never Can Tell" - Emmylou Harris

"The Promised Land" - Johnnie Allen

"Johnny B. Goode" - Peter Tosh

"Maybellene" - Johnny Hallyday

"Tulane" - Chuck Berry

Thursday, 16 March 2017

A Question Of Toughness

On the face of it, Robert Wyatt may seem to be the odd one out. But it is him who provides our unifying theme: "If it's tough you want, then it's tough you got".

"Cry Tough" - Johnny Clarke

"Tired Of This Life I'm Living" - Tony Tuff

"I'm The Toughest" - Peter Tosh

"Team Spirit" - Robert Wyatt

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Large in Lusaka

Later today I'm off to Zambia for a few days' work. It will be my first visit, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm not going to be there long enough to get beyond Lusaka, but maybe there'll be a next time.

I don't have much Zambian music in my collection, so hopefully there will be a chance to put that right while I'm there. In the meantime, here are a couple of groovy tunes from the 'Zamrock' scene of the 1970s. The first one is particularly appropriate today.

"Sunday Morning" - Amanaz

"My Ancestors" - Chrissy 'Zebby' Tembo & Ngozi Family

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Who Was That Masked Man?

It shouldn't take you too long to work out the identity of today's mystery guest.

"Fish Tea" - Lone Ranger

"The Lone Ranger" - George Jones

"I Don't Want To Be A Lone Ranger" - Johnny 'Guitar' Watson

Monday, 6 March 2017

In Which The Facade Crumbles

Over the years I have been doing this blog, I have carefully cultivated an image of being a hip and happening guy with his finger on the pulse of whatever musical scene is about to burst forth - a surfer of the zeitgeist, if you will.

Sadly, I must reveal that has all been a facade. I am in fact a middle-aged man with an alarming weakness for Gilbert O'Sullivan. I went to see the Great Man last night on his 50th anniversary tour, and while not without the occasional moment of naffness - it was Gilbert, after all - he put on an excellent show. His leap onto the keyboard to conduct the communal singing on "Get Down" was surprisingly sprightly for a man of 70.

Here are a couple of personal early favourites of his, followed by a video of him performing his neglected 1980s funk standard, "So What". Herbie Hancock, eat your heart out.

"Houdini Said" - Gilbert O'Sullivan

"We Will" - Gilbert O'Sullivan

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Story of Bitori

If you want the full story of Bitori you will need to go to elsewhere - I'll give you a clue, it's here. In brief, Bitori is an accordion player from the Cape Verde islands. He is a master of "funana", a musical style which has been around forever but was frowned on by polite society in Praia as being a bit common. The upshot was that, despite being a popular live act for decades, he didn't have a chance to record until the late 1990s by which time he was nearly 60.

Him and his band are still going strong - in fact, I'm hoping to see them at a festival in July - and those 1990s recordings were re-released on a CD called "Legend of Funana". Here are a couple of samples.

"Munana" - Bitori

"Natalia" - Bitori

Here's another Natalia for you. At least I assume it isn't the same Natalia.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Anti War Songs

A couple of heartfelt pacifist cries for you today. It's perhaps a little hard to believe that the first was a number one hit in the US in 1960. But it's even harder to believe that it made the top ten in the R&B charts. R&B? Really? Anyway, personally I prefer the off-beat charm of the unholy mess that is the "cover version" by John Lennon's favourite doper, David Peel.

"Mr Custer" - Larry Verne

"Hey Mr Draftboard" - David Peel & The Lower East Side

I am no stranger to the pacifist cause myself. Back in my student days in the early 1980s - the last time that nuclear armageddon seemed like a realistic possibility - some friends and I went up to London to join a CND march. We were encouraged to sing anti-war songs, but then severely reprimanded by one of the more po-faced organisers when we started belting out the chorus to this one.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Maggie Roche RIP

I found out today that Maggie Roche sadly died last month. As a belated tribute, here are a few of her finest moments.

"Hammond Song" - The Roches

"Losing True" - The Roches

"You're The One" - The Roches

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Chucky P

Mister F and I were back at The Garage last night, a couple of weeks after the James McMurtry show. No free beer from the support act this time, but that is only a minor quibble when you have the ever excellent Chuck Prophet headlining.

Chuck and The Mission Express played a lot of stuff from their new album "Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins". I have not had a chance to listen to it yet, but judging by last night's performance it is well up to their recent high standards, and sounds decidedly rocking. Here, by contrast, are a couple of mellower numbers from much earlier in Chuck's career.

"Longshot Lullaby" - Chuck Prophet (from "Feast of Hearts", 1995)

"110º In The Shade" - Chuck Prophet (from "Balinese Dancer", 1992)

And, of course, they did this one, as they always do. Fortunately.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Fabulous Friday

It's Friday. It's Fabulous. Who beter to take us in the weekend than the Fabulous McClevertys?

"Landlady Want De Rent" - The Fabulous McClevertys

"Don't Blame It On Elvis" - The Fabulous McClevertys

And here is Elvis, behaving blamelessly.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Single Song Sunday

It has been a while since we've done a Single Song Sunday, and I thought we should put that right. I also thought we should spread a bit of soppiness to soften you lot up in time for Valentine's Day.

So we have gone for "Let It Be Me", or "Je t'appartiens" as it was called when Gilbert Becaud wrote and recorded in back in 1955. The first English version was recorded in 1957, but it took the Everly Brothers in 1960 to popularise the song in the US and the rest of the English speaking world. Four years later, Jerry Butler and Betty Everett had an even bigger hit with it, at least in the US.

Since then the world and his wife have had a go. Versions that did not make the cut include Elvis, Willie Nelson and Nina Simone, among many many others. But we do have Bob Dylan, from his experimental "let's try to sing properly" period. We also have the marginally less well known Doreen Shaffer, helping out on the Mandatory Reggae Version. And we have possibly the finest Czech version you will ever hear.

"Je t'appartiens" - Gilbert Becaud

"Let It Be Me" - The Everly Brothers

"Let It Be Me" - Betty Everett & Jerry Butler

"Let It Be Me" - Bob Dylan

"Let It Be Me" - Percy Sledge

"Let It Be Me" - Rosie Thomas & Ed Harcourt

"Let It Be Me" - Johnny Clarke & Doreen Shaffer

"Kéž Jsem To Já" - Karel Gott & Jitka Zelenkova

For such a frequently recorded song, there are remarkably few live performances on YouTube. But I did come across this little treat.

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Mighty McMurtry

On Wednesday, Mister F and I greatly enjoyed seeing the mighty James McMurtry, who is in the UK for the first time in quite a few years. I think the last time he was over may have been the tour that got captured on his "Live in Europe" album - listen carefully, and you can hear the two of us screaming girlishly in excitement on some of the tracks.

Mr McMurtry is at his best when singing his first person short stories about everyday life and losers in the middle of America. Here are three of my favourites. He played the first two the other night, but not "We Can't Make It Here" - maybe he feels the narrator of that particular song sounds a little too Trumpian these days.

"Choctaw Bingo" - James McMurtry

"Just Us Kids" - James McMurtry

"We Can't Make It Here" - James McMurtry

While we are here, I should pay due tribute to the support band, Alice Drinks The Kool Aid. Musically they were perfectly fine, if not really my cup of tea. I mention them because the singer runs the Lagunitas Brewing Company in Chicago, and he brought along a consignment of beer for us to sample. Very nice it was too - it certainly showed the local hipster effort to be the pale ale imitation that it is - but best of all it was free. So for that reason, I am voting them the best support band ever!

Get well soon, Chas.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Street Sounds

The other day I was strolling down my street when I spied an abandoned mud-caked CD lying on the pavement. Being a kind-hearted soul, I picked it up and took it home to get dried out and cleaned up.

It turned out to be the album "Don't Forget" by Italian jazz dude Tommaso Starace and his Quartet. It's probably perfectly OK if you like that sort of thing, but I have an allergic reaction to jazz. This track is the only one I was able to get through to the end of.

Fortunately, salvation was at hand in the form of the very next track listed on my iTunes. Let us all be thankful for the divine Ms Tommie Young - she came just in time.

"Divieto Di Sosta" -  Tommaso Starace Quartet

"You Came Just In Time" - Tommie Young

 And here is another Tommy to round things off.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

When John Met Sandra

Some good old-fashioned toasting, courtesy of Trinity. Both tracks from his 1977 LP "Three Piece Suit". When you listen to the Sandra song, the reason for today's clip will become obvious.

"John Saw Them Coming" - Trinity

"Ride On Sandra" - Trinity

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Tales Of Yesterday

Yesterday I went to a belated end of year works lunch at an excellent Peruvian restaurant called Andina in trendy Shoreditch. The food was great, but it was almost worth the money for the decor in the back room alone. It consisted of a large collection of vintage Peruvian albums and singles. I was seriously tempted to nick a few of them.

Amongst the acts on display were the leading lights of the Peruvian psychedelic movement, Traffic Sound. And here they are.

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

"Tibet's Suzettes" - Traffic Sound

Then in the evening I met up with some old pals to go and see the Rezillos, who are still going strong after forty years or so.Very good they were too. They played all the hits of course - one of which is below - but for me the highlight of the evening was their raucous version of an old Scottish standard, featuring Eugene Reynolds on honking saxophone. So we'll kick off the clips with the original hit version of the aforementioned standard.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Scots Woo-Hoo

This one is for our Caledonian readers (you know who you are) - a little Burns Night special. Three from the Bard himself, and one modern equivalent. The Michael Marra performance makes even a stone-hearted sassenach like me a bit damp-eyed. Goodness knows what it does to you lot.

"Green Grow The Rashes" - Michael Marra

"Now Westlin Winds" - Dick Gaughan

"Ay Waukin O" - Christine Sparks

"The Sadness In Your Life Will Slowly Fade" - Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat

Not strictly Burns, but I could not let the occasion pass without sharing my all time favourite Scottish hip hop fusion classic.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Some Proper Music At Last

You can thank Regular Reader George for today's post. Or blame him. As you see fit.

Last time out I posted a clip of Paul Nicholas performing his popular 1975 hit "Reggae Like It Used To Be". George got in touch to express the trenchant and hard-hitting view that is was "not his best". Having taken a while to recover from the discovery that anyone could care enough to comment on a Paul Nicholas video, I decided I agreed with him.

We may, however, disagree on what Paul's best was. Judging by the rest of his comments, I think George would plump for "Grandma's Party", whereas I am very much a "Dancing With The Captain" man. Have a listen to them both, and make your own mind up.

"Grandma's Party" - Paul Nicholas

"Dancing With The Captain" - Paul Nicholas

Of course, back in the mid-1970s when Paul was at the height of his popularity, we were all dancing with the Captain. And with his lovely partner, Tennille.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

When Rai Met Reggae

Back in 2001, some bright spark had the idea of getting some rai and reggae artists together to collaborate. They managed to get some pretty big names involved - the likes of Khaled, Gregory Isaacs and Sly & Robbie - and the upshot was an album called "Big Men".

Unfortunately the results are not as entertaining as they would think they could have been. This could be because - from what I can gather from the sleeve notes - the Algerians did their bits in Paris then sent them over to Kingston for the Jamaicans to add to (and vice versa). Still, it has its moments.

"Life" - Larbi Dida & U Roy

"A Love I Can Feel" - Tarik & Chevelle Franklin

As far as I know the experiment wasn't repeated, so nobody had to work out what name to give to an exciting new "genre". Rai-Reggae? Reggae-Rai? Rai-ggae? I have no idea what to call it, but I do know that its not reggae like it used to be.

Friday, 13 January 2017

The Czechs In The Post

Some highlights from an excellent compilation with a terrible name for you today. "Czech Up! (Volume 1)" brings together some top notch pop tunes from 1960s and 1970s Czechoslovakia, as it was then, all of which were originally released on the famous Supraphon label.

The first three tracks are from "Czech Up!", including that by possibly the best pop group in Czech history, the Golden Kids (Marta Kubisova, Vaclav Neckar and Helena Vondrakova) - they only lasted 18 months before Marta was banned for being critical of the regime and they had to disband, but they made some great records in that time. I've added as a special treat one of Vaclav's solo singles - it is not on the CD, but has been scientifically proven to be one of my favourite pop songs ever.

"Nikdy Nebudu Tvá" - Atlantis

"Ve Světle Petrolejky" - Mahogan

"Nestůj A Pojď (U Nás Máme Mejdan)" - Golden Kids

"Papagallo Baby" - Vaclav Neckar

Here are the Kids at their most golden. With lions and fire and everything.

Monday, 9 January 2017

More Tsonga

After the rapturous reception for the return of Tsonga disco last time out - well, George liked it - here are a couple more I've been sitting on. Please welcome Lucy Shivambu and bad boy Benny Mayengani, with tracks from their respective 2014 albums, "Wa Mina Hi Wihi?" and "Vayuda"

"Ulo Tolovela" - Lucy Shivambu

"Monate" - Benny Mayengani

Here's a song about another Benny. I like the song, but you do wonder what on earth it was doing on "Soul Train".

That was OK, but my favourite Elton performance of that song comes midway through this clip from Saturday Night Live.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Tsonga Tsar

It has been months since we've had any Tsonga disco here. To be honest, I'm not sure the masses have noticed, but I am sufficiently concerned about getting done under the Trade Descriptions Act that I feel the need to put it right.

So here is a gentleman we've not featured here previously, Tsar Makamu - known as Robert to his dear old Mum - with admirable support from the Shilawuli Sisters. Both tracks come from his 2011 album "Rulani na Tsakani". Patson Chauke is at the controls, which is usually a good sign - and so it proves to be.

"Xihlovu Sa Le Mahweni" - Tsar Makamu & Shilawuli Sisters

"Vat E'n Set" -  Tsar Makamu & Shilawuli Sisters

And who was the Tsar's most deadly enemy? Why, Rasputin, of course.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Daisy Chain

You can see how this works. I may or may not try and turn this into a regular feature, who can tell.

Whether or not I do, you really need to listen to the Butterflies' track. As well as being a magnificent slice of South African soul, it is - to my knowledge - the only song dedicated to a woman called Petunia. And possibly the only one in which the singer describes the woman he loves as a "shareholder".

"You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve" - Johnny Boy

"Johnny Boy" - The Butterflies

"Drowning Butterflies" - Cleaners From Venus

Now, from there you can either go "Cleaners" or "Venus". I know my preference, but I'll let you decide.