Monday, 27 March 2023

Brazilian Belters

Some vintage garage sounds from Brazil to kick off the week. Both can be found on the four volume "Brazilian Nuggets: Back From The Jungle" series (Volumes 1 and 3 respectively) compiled by the excellent Groovie Records of Lisbon. You can find all four volumes on their Bandcamp page along with a lot of other interesting looking things.

"Vou-Lhe Contar" - WanderlĂ©ia

"Cascata Do Ano" - Angel Santos

I could not find any videos of Brazilian garage bands on YouTube, but Eartha Kitt introducing Sergio Mendes more than makes up for that. Look out for the giant earrings and the cool dude with the shaker.

Friday, 24 March 2023


I've been to three gigs over the last couple of weeks, one of them good, the other two excellent. There's one more still to come before the end of the month but we'll deal with that one separately.

The run started at the church down the end of my road where we were treated to a set by self-styled 'guitar convincer' Gwenifer Raymond

Gwenifer convinced her guitar to make some great noises and I would  happily see her again, but to be honest the support act will probably live longer in the memory - a stylishly dressed trans accordionist who used the instrument to make a slow droning sound while intoning the lyrics to "Boys Boys Boys" by Sabrina over the top of it.

Next up was the great Lonnie Holley at Cafe Oto in Dalston. I've seen him before - coincidentally at the church down the end of my road - when it was just him on his own. This time round he was backed by drums and trombone duo Nelson Patton and they helped lift it up to a whole new level.

Lonnie has a new album out, "Oh Me Oh My", but he didn't play anything from that. Instead we got a semi-improvised set, which is how he tends to do things - evidently he decides on the broad themes he wants to sing about, agrees with Nelson Patton which rhythm or tune they will use as a starting point and then off they go. 

The result was really rather magical. He is a very compelling performer and the experience was like listening to a gospel preacher (but one that sings about spaceships).  

Last, but definitely not least, was the magnificent Gina Birch at Oslo in Hackney. She is touring her new album - the first under her own name - "I Play My Bass Loud", with the admirable assistance of Jenny Green and Marie Marlei (aka The Unreasonables). 

The album is fantastic and will definitely be somewhere in my 'best of' list come the end of the year, but many of the songs sounded even better live. The energy and conviction with which Gina and the band played them was transforming.  Particular highlights included the title track, "Digging Down" and instant garage band standard "Wish I Was You".

You should go and see all of these folks if they come your way and you should buy the new albums too. We'll round things off with something from their respective back catalogues - in Gina's case from her old band - and the original of the distinctive cover version I mentioned earlier.

"Sometimes There's Blood" - Gwenifer Raymond

"There Was Always Water" - Lonnie Holley

"No One's Little Girl" - The Raincoats

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Progg Not Prog

I recently picked up a compilation of the Nationalteatern, leading lights of the Swedish progg music scene in the 1970s.

That's not a typo, the extra G is there for a reason. Progg was short for 'progressiv musik', an anti-commercial musical movement promoting alternative lifestyles and what might be broadly described as left-wing views. Some progg bands were also prog bands, but not all of them.

The progg scene was closely associated with similar movements in art and theatre, which is where Nationalteatern fit in. They started off as a travelling theatre company that incorporated music into their shows but gradually mutated into a band. 

Nationalteatern haven't made any new records since the early 1980s but apparently still get together to tour every now and then. The live clip is from 1991.

"Speedy Gonzales" - Nationalteatern

"Ut I Kylan" - Nationalteatern

Monday, 20 March 2023

Public Service Announcement

I know a number of our regular readers are big fans of North African guitar sounds. So this is to alert them to the impending release of an excellent compilation of the one of the pioneers of the scene, Les Abranis.

Les Abranis were formed in Paris in 1967 by two exiled Algerian Berbers who hatched a plan to fuse their traditional rhythms and melodies with garage rock and psychedelia - a plan that worked out brilliantly.    

The compilation is called "Amazigh Freedom Rock 1973-1983", it comes out on the Bongo Joe label at the end of April and is available for pre-order on Bandcamp now. I suggest you get over there pronto.

"Chenar Le Blues" - Les Abranis

"Id Ed Was" - Les Abranis

It seems that the lads are still going strong. Here is a fine clip of them from ten years ago to see us out.

Friday, 17 March 2023

Bunong Singalong

We are heading back to Cambodia today, more specifically to Mondulkiri Province, home of the indigenous Bunong people. 

In 2017 Les Cartes Postales Sonores, a label that specialises in field recordings of indigenous music, issued a compilation titled "Bunong Pop Songs". It is available on Bandcamp on a "name your price" basis.

Like many field recordings, none of the performers are identified. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it is great that their music is being brought to a wider audience. On the other, not crediting any of the artists by name has a whiff of exploitation about it. Let's hope they were at least paid.

The album is dedicated to Lok Ta, evidently one of the leading lights of the Bunong music scene who died in 2016. It is not mentioned whether Lok Ta features on the album but the musicians provide a fine tribute, as these snappily titled tracks show:

"▲ 1" - Groovy Bunong Man

"▲ 5" - Groovy Bunong Woman

Here's a video featuring the mbuat, a traditonal Bunong instrument that resembles bamboo bagpipes. Go on, you know you want to.

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Kingston Cowboys

Today we feature a magnificent seven reggae artists who chose to name themselves after screen cowboys. "Why?", I hear you ask. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

You have to concede that their respective nom de plumes sound much more impressive than Norval Headley,  Anthony Waldron, Devon Perkins, Gregory Williams, Joseph Sterling and the brothers Robert and Wade Brammer, to give them their real names.

"Call The Police" - John Wayne

"Fish Tea" - Lone Ranger

"Spot And Beat The Banker" - Lee Van Cleef

"Poco Man Jam" - Gregory Peck

"Nice Up The Dance" - Josey Wales

"Caroline" - Clint Eastwood

"Midnight Cowboy" - Trinity

Monday, 13 March 2023

They Are The Mirror Men

While I was in Cape Town recently I picked up a CD reissue of the first two albums by local lads Falling Mirror - "Zen Boulders" (1979) and "The Storming Of The Loft" (1980).

Falling Mirror were two cousins, Allan Faull and Neilen Marais (a.k.a. Neilen Mirror), aided and abetted by South African Svengali producer Tully McCully and the occasional hired hand. Their series of albums in the first half of the 1980s stood out as being more interesting than most of the local scene at the time.

We have a track apiece from both albums for you together with their biggest (and I think only) hit - the title track from their 1986 concept album about a man hooked on prescription drugs who has an unhealthy obsession with the counter assistant at his local pharmacy. Based on a true story apparently (and alarmingly). 

"Archie & Juggie Went Down To The Store" - Falling Mirror

"I Wish I Was A Purple Door" - Falling Mirror

"Johnny Calls The Chemist" - Falling Mirror 

I can't find any Falling Mirror videos on YouTube so here are some other mirrors of a similar vintage instead.