Thursday, 31 December 2009
Hansi New Year
Today's selections come from the punningly titled "In-Kraut" series of compilation CDs, which feature assorted Teutonic tunes from the 1960s and 1970s. There are three volumes and we are featuring one from each, though not necessarily in the right order.
"Marihuana Mantra" - Kuno & The Marihuana Brass
"Beach Bunny" - Frank & The Top Ten
"Black Night" - Hugo Strasser
Personally I think that version of "Black Night" is a considerable improvement on the original.
The Daddy of all German band leaders is of course James Last. Here he is with the gang in 1974 with their stomping version of "Live And Let Die". That's Benny Bendorff on vocals and bass guitar, fact fans.
Bonus clip: Following today's news that Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt have each been awarded an O.B.E. (Order of the British Empire) for services to advanced chord structures, here is the mighty Quo.
Happy New Year
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
2009 Review: Gigs
Without further ado, here are the awards:
Winner: James McMurtry and Jon Dee Graham at the Luminaire
Runners up: Otis Gibbs at the Sheep Walk; Gurf Morlix at the North Star
Winner: Van Morrison's Astral Weeks in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall
Runners up: Steve Earle at the Barbican; Fairport Convention at the Barbican
One thing that both winners have in common is that both tours (although not the actual gigs I was at) have made it on to CD - as "Live in Europe" and "Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl" respectively. Both are well worth getting hold of if you haven't already, as are all of their other live albums for that matter. Here is a track from "Live in Europe" for you.
"Freeway View (Live 2009)" - James McMurtry
I am too scared of Van to post anything from the Astral Weeks live album here, so instead here are a couple of tracks from an excellent bootleg I have of a concert he did at the Point in Dublin in 1995. I am not sure whether in legal terms posting a bootleg is better or worse than posting an official release - that is one for you moral relativists out there - but it makes me feel safer. The two selections include a lovely version of "Slim Slow Slider" which was, of course, originally on "Astral Weeks".
"Slim Slow Slider (Live 1995)" - Van Morrison
"I'm Not Feeling It Anymore (Live 1995)" - Van Morrison
For those of you who have a thing about women playing ukeleles - you know who you are - here is a Van cover:
Monday, 28 December 2009
2009 Review: Albums
To get the honourable mentions out of the way first, in no particular order:
"The Loving Kind" - Nanci Griffith. A long awaited return to form and one I had almost given up on. Her best album for at least 15 years.
"To Be Loved" - Thad Cockrell. First solo album for six years and as good as I had hoped after waiting so long (although points taken off for including four tracks released as an EP last year).
"The King Vs The General" - Penny Penny & General Muzka. The reigning Tsonga monarch teams up with the pretender to the throne to great effect.
"Carbeth" - Trembling Bells. Included mainly to show that while I am irredeemably an old fart I do listen to some modern stuff (just as long as it is modern stuff that sounds like it could have been made in the 1960s or 1970s). Patchy - they were trying a bit too hard to be strange in some places - but the good bits were excellent.Also worth a mention: "Townes" - Steve Earle (especially the acoustic album), "Bible Belt" - Diane Birch, "Balm In Gilead" (Rickie Lee Jones), and a couple of live albums that will crop up again tomorrow.
But my album of the year by a long way is "Blood And Candle Smoke" by Tom Russell. I have seen reviews that describe him as the songwriting equivalent of Cormac McCarthy. In that case this is his equivalent of "The Road" or "All The Pretty Horses". Many of Tom's previous albums have been a bit patchy but there is no filler this time, just twelve great songs. Musically the involvement of Calexico seems to have moved things up a notch as well.
I have been a fan of Tom's for years and go to see him whenever he is in London. If you haven't seen him before I recommend you get yourself up to the Luminaire in Kilburn on 27 January. He always puts on an excellent show and the stories between the songs are almost as good as the songs themselves.
Here is one track from "Blood And Candle Smoke" and one old favourite:
"Mississippi River Runnin' Backwards" - from "Blood And Candle Smoke" (2009)
"William Faulkner In Hollywood" - from "The Road To Bayamon" (1988)
Here is a clip of Tom, sporting a very obvious dye job, performing "East Of Woodstock, West Of Vietnam" from "Blood And Candle Smoke" on Letterman earlier this year:
Bonus clip: On "The Road To Bayamon", Tom included a cover version of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire". It wasn't bad, but I prefer this one:
Sunday, 27 December 2009
Zoot Money's Big Roll Band were a popular live act on the 1960's London scene who performed soul and rhythm 'n blues at the Flamingo, also home to Georgie Fame. Come the Summer of 1967 they decided, along with absolutely everybody else, to tune in and turn on. They mutated into Dantalion's Chariot. As well as Zoot, members included Andy Summers of future Police fame and Pat Donaldson who went on to be a member of Fotheringay and Heads, Hands and Feet and to play as a session musician with any number of big names.
Dantalion's Chariot only issued the one single in their lifetime, but in 1996 a compilation of all known recordings was issued under the title "Chariot Rising" which is well worth tracking down if you can. The A side is relatively well known after being included on "Nuggets" and, as I say, in my own opinion is pretty much the crowning glory of British psychedelia. The B-side is pretty good too. Here they both are:
"Madman Running Through The Fields" - Dantalion's Chariot
"Sun Came Bursting Through My Cloud" - Dantalion's Chariot
Needless to say I can't find any Dantalion's Chariot clips so instead here is their old friend from the Flamingo, Mr Georgie Fame:
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
"Christmas In Kakamas" - David Kramer
Although it has Christmas in the title, "Christmas In Kakamas" is about as far from festive fun as you can get for reasons that will become apparent as the song progresses. But I find it extremely affecting.
Kakamas is a small town in the northern Cape Province in South Africa. The song is mainly performed in English but there are a few Afrikaans words chucked in as well. You don't need to understand them to follow the story but in case you are interested:
Dominee = Priest
Braaivleis = barbeque
Ou = bloke
Bakkie = pick-up truck
Meneer = Sir
Veldt = bush, scrubland
We probably all need a bit of cheering up after that. Fortunately David Kramer is just as adept at cheeriness. This one is dedicated to my sister Kate and all the Gogginses in South Africa who I will be missing something terrible over Christmas. In the words of the song, "Ek het jou lief".
"Katie" - David Kramer
Let's end with something more traditional, like this heart-warming story of celebrity audience participation at a panto in Milton Keynes, and this Christmas standard from 25 years ago:
That's it from me for a few days. Have a good one.
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Mike's Mighty One-Two
If I did the answer would be easy. The album is Mike Heron's "Smiling Men With Bad Reputations" and the two tracks are "Call Me Diamond" and "Flowers Of The Forest". They are completely different but equally fantastic. The rest of the album doesn't maintain the same standard, but it has several other highlights such as "Feast Of Stephen" and "Beautiful Stranger" and is well worth getting hold of.
As you might expect from an album released in 1971 by a member of the Incredible String Band it is somewhat eclectic. "Call Me Diamond" features the ace South African saxophonist Dudu Pukwana. "Flowers Of The Forest" has a guitar solo by Richard Thompson. Subsequent tracks featured John Cale on viola and harmonium, Indian musicians and - on "Warm Heart Pastry" - The Who minus Roger Daltrey under the pseudonym "Tommy & The Bijoux". It should be a mess but somehow it works.
Here is the great one-two:
"Call Me Diamond"
"Flowers Of The Forest"
Mike is still going strong, performing with a line-up of the Incredible String Band, solo, and with his very talented daughter, Georgia Seddon. I have been lucky enough to see him a couple of times this year in various ensemble pieces. His voice is still a bit all over the place but for me that just adds to his considerable charm.
Here is a clip of Mike and the gang way back when with "All Writ Down".
Monday, 21 December 2009
Last week I picked up a cracking CD for a couple of quid at Spitalfields market. It is by Techome Wolde & The Ethio-Stars called "The Ethiopian Soul Revue". A live album recorded in London, it was released in 1996. It is very much in the style of Alemayu Eshete, Mahmoud Ahmed and others you may be familar with from the Ethiopiques series.
According to the sleeve notes, Techome Wolde first came to prominence through his performances at the Addis Ababa City Hall Theatre in the mid-1970s, and released his first cassette in Ethiopia in 1981. "The Ethiopian Soul Revue" was apparently his first CD.
Mr Wolde is backed by the Ethio-Stars, formed in 1981 by trumpeter Shimeles Beyene. They started as a "slick dance band playing in clubs and hotels during the Mengistu regime's dusk to dawn curfews in Addis Ababa", and went on to back many of Ethiopia's most famous singers, including Mahmoud Ahmed.
They make an excellent team. To quote from the sleeve notes again, "the resulting mesh creates a pulsating energy and full-blooded sound that harks back to the golden age of Ethiopian music of the 1970s". Here are a couple of examples:
"Sema Eda Agebachign" (Ever Since We Kissed I'm Addicted To Her Love)
"Aweyo" (Thank You My Girl)
My favourite title on the album is "Yehegerie Lidge Bale Gamie", which translates as "From your hairstyle I know you're from Gojjam". Round here they make similar remarks about girls from Chigwell.
Here is Techome in action. I have no idea if that is the Ethio-Stars backing him.
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Sounds Of The Sahara
Mariem is a Sahawari, the indigenous people of the Western Sahara. Like many of her people she has spent much of the last 30 years or so in exile, many of them in refugee camps in Algeria, as part of the long-running dispute over the territory. Previously a Spanish colony, it was invaded by Morocco and Mauritania when the Spanish left in the mid-1970s. Mauritania withdrew after a few years but control is still disputed by Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement.
Mariem has apparently been performing with Sahawari troupes since the 1970s. According to some websites "Deseos" was her first solo album, but others refer to earlier recordings so I am not sure whether that is the case or not. If there are other recordings out there I would like to track them down, so if anyone knows perhaps they could tell us.
Mariem has an absolutely magnificent voice, as you will hear. On these tracks she is backed by electric guitars, tidinets (a form of lute) and tebals (ground-drums traditionally played by women).
"Sbar" - Mariem Hassan
"Tirka" - Mariem Hassan
The obvious comparison is with Tinariwen, both musically and in terms of their history (they were also exiled to Algeria, in their case from Mali). But while I enjoy and admire them, they don't move me in the same way as Mariem Hassan does. Primarily I think it is her voice, but the music is also just that little bit closer to the primitive blues sound with which I am already familiar, and so maybe strikes more of a chord. In particular, when I first listened to "Tirka", it made we think of this:
"First There Was" - Johnny Dowd
Here she is in action:
Saturday, 19 December 2009
"Canto A La Habana"
Here is a 1987 clip of Celia performing the latter song with some help from Tito Puente and friends:
It is a little known fact that salsa was actually invented in the UK and exported to Cuba. Here is an early example. Try to overlook the lead singer's pink suit and unfortunate "Jazz Hitler" hairstyle.
Friday, 18 December 2009
Pete does proper songs, with words and tunes and all that sort of vaguely unfashionable stuff. Some of them sound like they could have been written any time in the last 50 years, which is a compliment as far as I am concerned. He also has a nice line in cover versions, a number of which appear on his current EP "Today, Tomorrow And Forever", recorded in Nashville with the Jordanaires. The EP includes his version of the old Jim Reeves song "Guilty", which was one of the highlights of Wednesday's set. Other highlights included an impromptu Hank Williams medley for his final encore, an Italian number and a couple of his originals - "One Stolen Moment" and "I Don't Like The Man That I Am".
Pete appears to have two voices. The better, cleaner one has hints of Hank, Elvis and the Big O, which has got to be a good thing. The other one is a bit more nasal, and only appears to be used when he also plays the harmonica. Perhaps there is a Dylan default selection for harmonica players, or maybe they all sound nasal because they are out of breath by the time they start singing. Who knows?
Here are a couple of the highlights I have already mentioned:
"Guilty" - from "Today, Tomorrow And The Future" (2009); with the Jordanaires
"I Don't Like The Man That I Am" - from "A Virtual Landslide" (2008)
Here is the video for one of the othe highlights, "One Stolen Moment":
I mentioned Roy Orbison back there. I am indebted to my friend Steve for alerting me to this, er, "tribute" to the Big O:
I know, I'm spoiling you. But you deserve it.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
She finally got some chart action in 1969 with her version of Chip's "Any Way That You Want Me" (which ironically was a cover, the Troggs having done the original). The single was followed by an album with the same title which is wall to wall wonderful. Here are a couple of examples:
"One Fine Summer Morning" - Evie Sands
"I'll Hold Out My Hand" - Evie Sands
No less an authority than Johnny Cash considered her a "pretty little girl full of talent" with silver bells in her voice and "electricity in her fingers the way she plays that guitar left handed and upside down". And if you don't believe me, here he is:
Monday, 14 December 2009
"Play The Music Toronadoes" - The T.S.U. Toronadoes
"Right, Tight And Out Of Sight" - Branding Iron
Also from 1970, here is a remarkably soulful performance from Melanie - almost as remarkable as the hairstyle that suddenly looms up at 1:55. She is backed by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, which probably helps. I nearly wrote the Stephen Hawkings Singers there, which would have been intriguing if rather less soulful.
Sunday, 13 December 2009
Turid Lundqvist (who recorded simply as Turid) was part of the Swedish musical movement known as "progg", which from what little I know of it was roughly equivalent to the folk-rock movement underway in the UK at the same time, with a bit of "prog with a single G" chucked in. Turid stylistically is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, but she also sang with the likes of Kebnekasje whose style was much more closely based on traditional Swedish folk. Today's selections come from a compilation CD called "I Retur" which I would thoroughly recommend if you like that sort of thing.
"Valkomme-hus" - Turid
"Stjarnar Och Anglar" - Turid
Here are some more Swedish folkies.
Saturday, 12 December 2009
I recently found in the local Oxfam shop a CD called "Kitsch Hits 3", a title I found hard to resist. It is a compilation of Danish pop hits from the 1970s to the 1990s which - while accepting that the cream of the crop will be on volumes one and two - would appear not to have been a vintage period even by Danish standards. How else could you explain the presence of cover versions of the Hokey Cokey, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and Paul Anka's "You're Having My Baby"? The latter does at least have one advantage over the original - you can't understand the words. Here it is:
"Vi Venter En Baby" - Slik
The second selection is "Uglevisen" by Flemming Werge's Blue Notes. "Uglevisen" appears to mean something like "Owl Ballad".
"Uglevisen" - Flemming Werge's Blue Notes
I tried to find out more information about Flemming but all I could find was a "Where are they know?" feature that Google had translated from Danish to English. It is worth reading in full but, in brief, after a successful career in music he ran a chain of nightclubs and lived in England and Spain before returning to Denmark to resume his career playing "soup-roast-and-ice music".
In the interview Flemming hints at a lack of self-esteem among Danish musicians which might partly explain their lack of success internationally: "Since the time we started to play in Jutland, thought people over here that we were better musicians because we came from Zealand, like the Danes generally believed that English musicians were to fall on your ass over".
Here is a recent clip of Flemming with some of that crazy soup-roast-and-ice music. I defy you not to fall on your ass over this.
And as a special treat, here is Paul Anka with the original of "You're Having My Baby". Odia Coates appears only in spirit form.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Two Bad D.J.
Oh, alright, he is a different person. Here are a couple of jolly tunes from their 1983 album, "Stop That Train".
"Shame And Scandal" - Clint Eastwood & General Saint
"H.A.P.P.Y." - Clint Eastwood & General Saint
The two of them considered themselves to be D.J.s (hence the title of their debut album, "Two Bad D.J."). But when this particular style of reggae was started ten to fifteen years or so before by the likes of U Roy, I Roy, Kilroy and Roy of the Rovers it was called toasting and its exponents were called toasters. Here is an example of toasting:
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Brit Psych Soul Mania!!
We start with Andwella from Northern Ireland. They released their first album as Andwella's Dream in 1969 before shortening it to Andwella for two further albums. This track is from their final album, "People's People" (1971). The vocalist David Lewis went on to write "Happy to be on an Island in the Sun" for Demis Roussos. Never mind.
Also from 1971 is the self-titled solo album from Reg King, formerly the lead singer with the fantastic mod band The Action, who we have featured here before. The album is not quite up to the standards of "Rolled Gold" but it is still pretty good.
Finally we bring you Velvet Opera - formerly Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera but Elmer (real name the slightly less exotic Dave Terry) had left by the time this track came out in 1969.
"She Taught Me To Love" - Andwella
"You Go Have Yourself A Good Time" - Reg King
"Raise The Light" - Velvet Opera
If you thought David Lewis should hang his head in shame for his Roussos connection, others should hang theirs lower still. Like Velvet Opera stalwarts Richard Hudson and John Ford who went on to be responsible for the execrable "Part of the Union" by Strawbs, then somehow managed to lower their standards even further with this:
Monday, 7 December 2009
To Bodger Huffington
Having an instinctive aversion to loud posh types we looked for an escape route but found ourselves cornered. And it was just as well we did. This character, Chris, claimed to be a producer of documentary films who was in Jerez to do identify locations for a series he was developing on the history of the horse. The local was his half-English, half-Spanish gofer called Patrick. He insisted on buying us a drink, decided he enjoyed our company and insisted on buying us another one, and so it went on. We ended up decamping to his luxury suite in a posh hotel in the early hours, where we sat on the balcony drinking cava ordered on room service until he finally collapsed.
By this stage of the evening Chris was very confused. He was convinced that I used to play rugby with him in Gloucestershire and kept referring to incidents and individuals from that time. I found it simplest to agree with him – it was his cava we were drinking after all – so when I was asked what old Bodger Huffington was up to now I just said we had lost touch rather than pointing out I had never met Bodger or any of the Huffingtons. Even more bizarrely, he was convinced Lord Roper was a musician called Nick who he used to drink with in Charlotte Street in his television days. He decided Nick was the perfect man to write the incidental music for his horse documentary and was all for drawing up a contract on his laptop there and then until talked out of it by Patrick.
During the course of the evening Chris told some most extraordinary tall tales, including that he had been a tank commander in the Balkans (which prompted him to turn to me and say “What you and I have in common, Goggins, is that we have both had to give orders to kill, something these people will never understand” – I have no idea who he thought I was at that point). But the one that sticks in my mind most is his claim that he used to date one of the Coconuts. He flew her to a Greek island for a romantic weekend and took her out to a taverna. She insisted on going barefoot and, with sad inevitability, ended up getting a badly cut foot during the traditional crockery smashing ceremony. As a result she missed a few tour dates, making Kid Creole very angry indeed. He may even have taken a contract out on Chris. Coati Mundi looks like he could do the job.
In memory of that night, and as a tribute to Chris, Bodger Huffington and all the gang back in Gloucestershire, here are the Coconuts pleading to get into another entertainment venue.
“Darrio” – Kid Creole and the Coconuts (from “Off The Coast Of Me”, 1980)
And here they all are in action (Kid Creole and the Coconuts, that is, not Chris and Bodger):
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Stompie on Sunday 2
"Teba" - Stompie Mavi
"Ezomzi" - Stompie Mavi
I have featured this clip of Stompie before but that was back in the days when the Leggies readership was even more select than it is now so it will be new to most of you, and it is so utterly charming I could watch it over and over again. And frequently do.
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Havana Club Mix
I particularly like the South African jazz that draws on traditional musical styles, and I will be featuring some of that tomorrow. In the meantime here is another example drawing on a different musical tradition. From Cuba, this is Los Van Van with a salsa-fied versaion of "Lullaby of Birdland".
"Timpop Con Birdland" - Los Van Van
Los Van Van took a jazz standard and made it better. It is, however, possible to take a jazz standard and make it even worse.
Thursday, 3 December 2009
What A Load Of Morlix
"Something About What Happens When We Talk" - Lucinda Williams (from "Sweet Old World", 1992)
"Gringo Honeymoon" - Robert Earl Keen (from "Gringo Honeymoon", 1994)
"The Road It Gives, The Road It Takes Away" - Tom Russell (from "Borderland", 2001)
Gurf has been an integral part of many timeless slices of Americana. But not this one, as far as I know.
P.S. A bit of research reveals that the Dan Somebody or Other I mentioned yesterday was Dan Raza. Check him out.
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Let's Go Gurfin' Now
First up was Dan Somebody or Other (I didn't catch the surname). He only did two songs which wasn't long enough to leave much of an impression, but they were good enough to make me want to hear a full set some time. The chances of my doing so will obviously be improved if I can work out his name.
Second was the redoubtable Alan Tyler, seen here in action (I was testing out a new camera).
Again this was just a short set but it included favourites like "Middle Saxon Town" and ended with a Jonathan Richman cover. Of course, Alan has been proclaiming his love of Jonathan's music since way back when.
"Jonathan, Jonathan" - The Rockingbirds
Topping the bill, and rightly, was the exotically named Gurf Morlix. The story behind the name - which disappointingly isn't the one he was born with - was explained in an interview with "No Depression". Here is Gurf (still testing).
Like most people, I suspect, I am mainly familiar with Gurf as a sideman and producer, and in that respect his track record is impeccable. He has played on and/or produced many of my favourite albums of the last fifteen years or so, and I will feature some of those in the next post.
Judging by last night he is pretty good as a frontman too. He played a excellent set, which was a well judged mix of some pretty strong originals and some more familiar cover versions (Bob Dylan, The Beatles - you may have heard of them). He also told some entertaining yarns about his time with the late Blaze Foley, who he worked with for a number of years in 1970s and 1980s.
They recorded a lot of material for an album in 1979 and 1980 that came to nothing after Blaze managed to lose the master tapes and then record over the only surviving cassette copy. Gurf thought the recordings had been lost forever until he got a call out of the blue a few years ago from a studio engineer who had found a back-up copy gathering dust somewhere. Gurf tidied them up a bit and they were finally released in 2006.
Here is one from that album, and one from Gurf himself.
"Picture Cards" - Blaze Foley (from "Cold, Cold World", released 2006, recorded 1980)
"How To Be" - Gurf Morlix (from "Fishin' In The Muddy", 2002)
For today's clip, lets go back to the Rockingbirds and the video for the "hit". Doesn't he look young? If it wasn't for the hair I'm not sure I would recognise him.
Monday, 30 November 2009
The literal-minded among you are probably expecting a song called "Maria", and there is no shortage of them after all. But no. The poor woman is marrying into a family where hardly anyone is known by their real name (just ask my niece Beanie, daughter of Moley), so there is no chance of that. Instead I offer you:
"Patsy" - Mighty Sparrow
Here is another Patsy:
Sunday, 29 November 2009
Hunting For Hogan
Short of Elvis or Charlie Rich being resurrected the comeback I most want to see now is a new album from Kelly Hogan. It has been eight years since her last one and in that time we have had to get by with the occasional guest appearance on other people's album. Now, that is better than nothing, but it is nowhere near good enough.
I'm hopelessly in love with her voice, which in some respects has echoes of a female Thad but which I can't begin to do justice to in words. Suffice to say she did a version of "Rubber Duckie" from Sesame Street on a Bloodshot Records kids' compilation that is one of the most erotic performances I have ever heard. I am not going to post that because it would be inappropriate on a Sunday and I'm not sure you are mature enough to cope. Instead here is a selection from her all too slim back catalogue:
"Funnel Of Love" - The Jody Grind (Wanda Jackson cover from "Lefty's Deceiver", 1992)
"Papa Was A Rodeo" - Kelly Hogan & The Pine Valley Cosmonauts (Magnetic Fields cover and possible greatest performance ever from "Beneath The Country Underdog", 2000)
"No, Bobby Don't" - Kelly Hogan (from "Because It Feel Good", 2001)
"Dues" - Kelly Hogan (from "A Tribute to the Soundtrack of Robert Altman's 'Nashville', 2002)
Here is a great clip of Kelly, Spooner Oldham and the Drive-By Truckers doing "I'm Your Puppet".
Come back soon, Kelly. Or marry me. One of the two.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
I have been able to find out next to nothing about Mr Mokhale apart from the statement on a Botswana-themed website that he was very popular there in his day. When that day was I am not sure but, judging by his sound and the involvement of legendary South African producer West Nkosi, I would guess it was some time between the mid 1970s and late 1980s. If anyone can fill in the missing details please do, it would be much appreciated.
"Pono Ya Haho" - Johnny Mokhale
"Rakgali" - Johnny Mokhale
And here's another Johnny:
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Caught With His Pants Down
"The Genitalia Of A Fool" - The Cornell Hurd Band
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
No Clever Heading Today
The album is misleadingly titled "1978 - 2004"; misleading because it includes several tracks from 1977 and only one after 1987. It is pleasant enough stuff. According to the Czech sleeve notes the vocalists were Zuzana Michnova and Petr Kalandra (I assume "zpev" means "vocals"). Petr was also a dab hand at the "foukaci harmonika", while Zuzana has more that a touch of the Sandy Dennys about her:
"Priste Se Ti Radsi Vyhnu" (1979)
"Podivam Se Zblizka" (1982)
Marsyas apparently took their name from a character in Greek mythology, a satyr who challenged the God Apollo to a music contest and lost. Here is another musical Greek God, in his post-Aphrodite's Child, pre-belly period:
Monday, 23 November 2009
Bing Sings But Microdisney
Microdisney were a sort of punk Steely Dan, a perfect mix of the venom and bile of singer and lyricist Cathal Coughlan with and sweet sophisticated sounds of Sean O'Hagan. They have both had long and distinguished careers since but for me the undiluted versions of either of them has never had anything like the same appeal as the blend. Bring back the old steel fist/ velvet glove interface, I say.
"Rack" - Microdisney
"People Just Want To Dream" - Microdisney
From the same album, here are the lads doing "Town To Town":
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Even without the Pookie connection I would have been tempted by the cover which features a black and white photo of seven groovy dudes with big collars, striped tank-tops and the like superimposed on colour photos of pita bread and assorted vegetables. Apart from the name "Poogy" and the song titles, most of the writing was in Hebrew. Just like this, in fact:
A little research revealed that the album is called "Poogy In A Pita". Released in 1974 it is the second album by a band known as Kaveret in Israel but known as Poogy when performing or releasing records in other countries. I must confess to being slightly baffled by this. What marketing genius sat down with the band and said "Look, lads, with a name like Kaveret you will never crack the US or Europe. Now if you call yourself Poogy on the other hand..."
The lead-off track on the album is "I Gave Her My Life", which was Israel's Eurovision entry that year, finishing a plucky seventh. On first listen it and most of the other tracks are pleasant but fairly unexciting. The two exceptions are an instrumental called "Left Handed Octopus", which features "the Oriental Music Orchestra conducted by Zuzu Musa", and the final track. This is a six and a half minutes pop-psych magnum opus called "The Ballad of Arriverderchi", and here it is. Apologies for the sound quality at the beginning - it gets better.
"The Ballad Of Arrivederchi" - Poogy (or Kaveret is you are reading this in Israel)
All in all though, judging by this clip, the first album "Poogy Tales" is the one to get:
Saturday, 21 November 2009
"Cowboys To Girls"
There are a lot of great musical Joes - Tex, Simon, Ely and Shirimani to name just four. But the coolest daddy of them all is Joe Dolan. There is a fantastic clip of him in his prime doing "You're Such a Good Lookin' Woman" here. If that is one click too far for you, here he is in his experimental disco period:
And speaking of cool Daddies:
Or even better (watch out for top Den Hegarty nonsense in this one):
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Get Off My Land
"Remnants" might be overselling it, actually. It is a two acre field in a not very scenic village in Wiltshire that I own jointly with my cousin. As we can't get planning permission we rent it out to the lady next door to graze her ponies. By the time we have paid the local solicitor to sort that out for us we are lucky to clear £15 a year each.
The field is one bequest I could have managed without. Others feel differently about their inheritance. Like the late Sonny Okosun, who took the question "Who will own Papa's land?" and wove it into twelve minutes of majesty.
"Papa's Land" - Sonny Okosun
"Papa's Land" was released in 1977. It wasn't the only musical Sonny/Sunny that year.
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
The Bowler Brigade
I was sitting on the Number 8 bus this morning, stuck in traffic opposite the Bank of England on Threadneedle Street, when in a rare moment of what Sting might call synchronicity this came on my iPod:
"Mr. Commuter" - Mike Proctor
Oh alright, it didn't really happen like that. But I do work in an office and I do get the bus down Threadneedle Street every day. So it could in theory.
I know nothing at all about Mike Proctor. I assume he isn't the former Gloucestershire and South Africa all-rounder Mike Procter with an E, who was a bit of a boyhood hero of mine. When I was about 10 I won a poetry prize at school for some doggerel about a man who needed his arm amputated but "was too poor to call a doctor/ so got it bowled off by Mike Procter". Not very good I know, but there wasn't a lot of competition on the poetry front in small town South Africa in the 1970s.
Anyway, back to the script. If you get on the Number 8 bus going East you'll end up in Bow where chances are you might meet this chap:
And going back to where we came in, here is another office clerk:
Monday, 16 November 2009
And while much of the rest of his recorded output (he is still recording) covers the same subject matter over and over again, and most of it is pretty ropey, it would be unfair to dismiss him completely - if only because he made one fantastic album "The American Revolution" (1970 and pre-Lennon).
I bought the album in a junk shop in the early 1980s mainly because of the cover and did not have any great expectations of the music, but was very pleasantly surprised. What I like about it most is the raw energy. At its best he manages to bridge the seemingly unbridgeable divide between hippies and punks. Here are a couple of examples (recorded off my battered vinyl copy so apologies so any imperfections):
"I Want To Kill You" - David Peel & The Lower East Side
"Oink Oink Oink" - David Peel & The Lower East Side (you need to stick with this one, the first 40 seconds or so are "acting")
On the other hand, the hippie novelty act view has something to commend it as well:
Sunday, 15 November 2009
This one wasn't bad. It is an album called "Majnu 3" by an outfit called The Professional Brothers, and it is a selection of remixes of Bollywood hits. Here are two of them:
"Mujha Neend Na Aaye" (featured vocalists: Neha Rajpal and Shaiz Billoo)
"Mein Tumse Pyaar Kerta Hoon" (featured vocalist: Iqbal Qureshi)
Here is the video for one of the other songs on the album. The photo on the cover of my bootleg version is very indistinct, but squinting at it I would say that the two burly fellers on the far left of the big sofa and probably the one on his own on the far right are the three Professional Brothers.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Georges has been getting a lot of airplay on Radio Goggins of late and has gone straight to the top of my list of Burkinabe musicians (it is a very short list admittedly, but one packed with quality).
According to the website of the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism of Burkina Faso, when put through the "Google Translate" mangle:
"The artist did in the 60s the heyday of several orchestras including the famous Abidjan Bozambo. Since 1973, the date of his departure from this training, he devoted himself to his solo career in his country, Burkina Faso. Popular singer, adored by its fans, "National Gandaogo" has become a locomotive of the song Burkina Faso". According to another badly translated website Georges celebrated forty years in the music business last year.
I have no idea whether Georges' style of music has a name, but it is a very pleasing mix of some traditional sounds with zouk and other more recent influences - "Mounafica" from his recent album "Tingre" is pretty much a straight out country-soul number, for example. Until informed otherwise I'm going to call it Burkinabe boogie.
Anywhere, here are a couple of examples of his work:
"Ned Kon Yeele" - from "Gnou Zeme" (2000)
"Toog Woodo" - from "Tingre" (2007)
And here is a clip of a very dapper Georges performing a slower, more reggae-tinged version of the latter track:
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Big Up The Ladies
"Fatty Fatty" - Clancy Eccles
"Fatty Fatty" - The Heptones
"Fat Gal" - Merle Travis
On the subject of big women:
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
[Late addition (13 November): It appears that Simon Mann, the mercenary recently released from jail in Equatorial Guinea - the one who alleges he received financial backing from Mark Thatcher to organise a coup there - is an Old Etonian as well. They really do get everywhere.]
Personally I don't think Paul Weller's brand of seething resentment is the right response. They may be upper-class twits but they are our upper-class twits. We should be more welcoming and celebrate their life-style with something like this...
"Buckle Shoe Stomp" - The Snobs
... Although, to be honest, I rather doubt that any member of The Snobs has even been mentioned in Debrett's. Unlike this next fellow - Lord David Dundas. Harrow, unfortunately.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
I was a bit uncertain about this gig beforehand because Jimmy's voice can perhaps best be described as "serviceable" and I wasn't sure him and the boys would be able to do justice to his wonderful songs. But it worked pretty well. You just have to accept that nobody will ever sing "Wichita Lineman" or "Galveston" or "Christiaan No" or whatever better than Glen and enjoy it on its own merits.
They played a good selection of the classics with the lads helping their Dad out on the notes that were clearly out of his range, taking the occasional verse and providing nice harmonies. For me their rendition of "P.F. Sloan" was probably the highlight of the set but they all sounded pretty good - even "MacArthur Park" which I have never much cared for.
Jimmy also has some cracking stories, most of which involve Richard Harris and the demon drink, although if they are anything like my own Dad's stories I imagine the lads have heard them hundreds of times by now.
The most pleasant surprise was the songs from the recent Jimmy Webb & the Webb Brothers album, "Cottonwood Farm", that were written by assorted brothers. I particularly liked "Tin Can" on which Christiaan Webb took the lead. The album is on eMusic so I might have to download a few tracks to share with you next month. Better still, do it yourself.
In the meantime, here are three of my favourite Jimmy Webb songs.
"P.F. Sloan" - Unicorn
"Do What You Gotta Do" - The Four Tops
"The Moon's A Harsh Mistress" - Jimmy LaFave
Of course, if you could only have one song by one performer it would have to be this one.
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Tsonga Disco: Clash Of The Titans
In recent weeks we have featured the reigning king of Tsonga Disco (Penny Penny), the young pretender (General Muzka) and the God-like genius of Joe Shirimani. Now we bring them all together.
Earlier this year Papa Penny and the General teamed up, with Joe as co-writer and producer, and released "The King Vs The General". The front cover shows the two of them in boxing gloves facing up to each other, but I think the photos on the inside cover are much more in keeping with the grandeur of the project. Papa Penny is the one with the hair and I think these pictures show that, sartorially at least, he still reigns.
Here are two of the many fine tracks on the album:
"Sarangani" - Penny Penny & General Muzka
"Gautrain" - Penny Penny & General Muzka
The Gautrain is the new high-speed rail link being built between Johannesburg and Pretoria. My dear old Dad is working on the project, so this post is dedicated to him. I suspect he may not be a big fan of Tsonga Disco were he to hear it. He is, however, a big fan of early Roger Whittaker - as am I. So here is a clip of Roger in his pomp.
Saturday, 7 November 2009
The dubious honour of being the 100th country to join the Leggies Club was keenly fought. At some point last night a visitor from Guatemala (99) popped in. An hour or so later someone from their immediate neighbour Belize (100) arrived - perhaps the Guatemalans shouted to them over the border. The reward for lucky Belize is to be patronised by my posting some of their music, which of course they will be much more familiar with than I am.
As well as sharing a border, Belize and Guatemala are both home to the Garifuna (or Garinagu) - people of Carib, Arawak and West African descent originally from St. Vincent until they were deported by the British to the coast of what are now Belize, Guatemala and Honduras at the end of the 18th century.
The best known Garifuna musician is Belize's Andy Palacio, who sadly died last year. Here are a couple of examples of his work.
"Mafiougati" - Andy Palacio (from "Keimoun", 1995)
"Weyu Larigi Weyu" - Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Colective (from "Watina", 2007)
And here is a clip of Andy asking to be given some Punta Rock. Judging by the subliminal message that flashes up about one minute in, I am guessing this was released on Caye Records in 1990.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
It's Miller Time
I may do a Steve-themed post some time soon but today we focus on last night's support act, Rhett Miller. He was also on his own and generally made a good impression. He is probably better suited to a more intimate and slightly less formal venue, but he has a nice way with a tune and very expressive knee movements.
As well as releasing records under his own name, Rhett is also the frontman of The Old 97's. Here is a small selection of his work under different guises:
"I Need To Know Where I Stand" - Rhett Miller (from "Rhett Miller", 2009)
"Fireflies" - Rhett Miller & Rachel Yamagata (from "The Believer", 2006)
"Barrier Reef" - The Old 97's (from "Too Far To Care", 1997)
In "Barrier Reef", Rhett asks "What's so fine about art?". I imagine that is intended to be a Rhett-orical question (sorry), but it is such a silly one that it is not worth trying to respond seriously. Which is why I am going to leave the response to Boney M.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Lei Lady, Lei
While browsing in the dustier corners of emusic recently I chanced upon an album called "ku.kulu ~ Heart" by a Japanese duo called Churamana. These ladies play a mixture of Hawaiian and Okinawan music, and the results are really quite enchanting. This is the only English language track on the album:
"Pineapple Princess - Blue Muumuu" - Churamana
And here they are in action. I think I might be in love with the lady doing the hula.
Monday, 2 November 2009
Tsonga Disco: Joe Shirimani
Regular readers will know that Joe is a particular favourite of mine. Like Swamp Dogg, who we featured a week or so back, Joe is a master writer and producer as well as great performer - a Tswamp Dogg if you like (but you probably don't).
Here are a couple of tracks from his 2000 CD "Floods (Mikhukhula)":
"Ke Waka" - Joe Shirimani
"Bantelela" - Joe Shirimani
There are three Joe Shirimani videos on YouTube but I've posted them all here previously so instead here is some disco from the next continent along. From the Bollywood film "Kal Ho Naa Ho" (2003), this is "It's The Time To Disco". At about 1:59 it features the best use of the "Poo! Poo!" sound since Anita Ward's "Ring My Bell".
Sunday, 1 November 2009
In general jazz has always left me completely cold, but I do have a fondness for the South African jazz that mixes in the traditional sounds and limits the noodling. Hugh Masekela is the arch exponent, but Mankunku was up there in the first rank. In particular "Jika", the album he made with Mike Perry in the late 1980s, is something of a standard. It is also perfect Sunday morning music.
Here are a couple of tracks in memory of a great man.
"Wajikeleza" - from "Jika" (1987)
"Khawuleza (Hurry Up)" - from "Dudula" (1996)
Here he is in action. R.I.P. Mankunku.
Saturday, 31 October 2009
Pretending To Be Bob
"Rembrandt Hat" - Andy White
What is a Delacroix cat? I suspect not even Andy knows.
That particular track shows its influences but stands up in its own right. Others topple over into parody. And there probably isn't an artist who has been more parodied over the years than Bob Dylan.
Here is an early "tribute" from 1965, available on the classic "Pebbles Volume 3" compilation and, bizarrely, a top 40 hit in Canada:
"Like A Dribbling Fram" - Race Marbles
I think the most successful parody came out a couple of years ago - the "Dylan Hears A Who" album, which took Dr Seuss poems and arranged them in the style of "Highway 61 Revisited" period Dylan. The music is spot on, the vocals are close enough to have you briefly thinking it might be Bob himself, and the lyrical content is no more nonsensical than some of Bob's own efforts of that period ("The sun ain't yellow it's a chicken" anyone?).
"Dylan Hears A Who" was briefly a roaring success until it was closed down by the Grinches who represent Dr Seuss's estate. At the risk of incurring the wrath of the Man in the Hat, here is the hit single:
"Green Eggs And Ham" - Dylan Hears A Who
Listening to "Dylan Hears A Who" it is clear that it is meant an affectionate tribute. This one on the other hand is a cruel assault on Bob's reputation and whoever is responsible for it ought to be shot:
Of course the most parodied Bob-bit of all is the video for "Subterranean Homesick Blues". Here is Weird Al Yankovic with one of the many examples. It's all palindromes, folks:
Thursday, 29 October 2009
Return Of The Thad
Thad's new album "To Be Loved" came out earlier this month. It is his first solo album for six years and his first album of any sort for four years - the last being "Begonias", his album of duets with Caitlin Cary. Some of the tracks on the new album were originally issued as an EP last year and two of them in particular - "Great Rejoicing" and "Pride (Won't Get Us Where We're Going)" - are as good as anything he has done. I have only listened to the completely new tracks once but most of them sound pretty good too.
Here is one from the new album and one old favourite:
"Beauty Has A Name" - from "To Be Loved" (2009)
"Why?" - from "Stack Of Dreams" (2001)
I mentioned the Big O in the opening paragraph. Here he is showing that even with some dodgy pick-up band he could blow you away.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Fighting The Punk Poet Wars
There are three main reasons for favouring Patrik: he did it first (and best); he didn't go to Eton, unlike Frank - which, whatever you think of him, has to undermine his credibility a bit; and perhaps most importantly, Patrik is the only one whose name is half of a punchline to a slightly off-colour joke about alternative lifestyles in Ireland.
Here are two of his finest moments:
"Optimism/ Reject" (1977)
"Improve Myself" (1979)
There was another feller in between who was pretty good as well:
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Tsonga Disco: Penny Penny
I refer once more to the indispensable Max Thamagana Mojapelo, from whom we learn that Mr Penny (or Penny to his friends) was born into a family of 68 children and 17 wives in the village of Hanani. At that point he was known by the rather more prosaic name of Eric Kobane.
The next bit of his story, as told by Max, reminds me of "Patches" by Clarence Carter: "Upon the death of his father his mother who was a farm worker could not afford to send him and six other siblings to school... [actually I stand corrected - Patches never quit school because that was Daddy's strictest rule]... At the age of nine he had to work in the tomato plantations of Mooketsi".
By 19 he was working at the West Driefontein gold mine where "he won many trophies for break-dancing before the harsh working conditions drove him back home". Thereafter he moved to Johannesburg where he supported himself through such jobs as fast food chef and street hawker until the fateful day when he was working as a cleaner in a music studio and he met Joe Shirimani - regular readers will know of my admiration for Joe and his genius as both producer and performer. Joe took him under his wing and the rest is history.
After all that, you will be impatient for some music. Here are a couple of tracks from Mr Penny's album "Juri Juri" (I don't know the date but it is early-mid 1990s I think):
"Ndziri Ndziri" - Penny Penny
"Mabiribiri" - Penny Penny
And here is Papa Penny in action with Shaka Bundu:
Sunday, 25 October 2009
"Olmali Mi Olmamali Mi" - from "Eski Defterler" (1999)
"Rastlanti Yalani" - from "Gece Yalanlan" (2003)
Here he is - relatively recently I would guess by the look of him - performing the song featured on "Love, Peace and Poetry": "Sen Varsin"
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Swamp Dogg Productions
"(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days" - Inez & Charlie Foxx
"Complication #4" - Arthur Conley
"Raining On A Sunny Day" - Freddie North
"Please Don't Send Him Back To Me" - Sandra Phillips
Here is the great man himself in action a couple of years ago.
P.S. I will be taking the links for August down next weekend, so if you fancy hearing a little Albanian and Macedonian music and a lot of African and soul, not to mention Larry Jon Wilson, now is your last chance.
Friday, 23 October 2009
Tsonga Disco: Peta Teanet
For further information I am indebted once again to Max Thamagana Mojapelo’s book “Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music”. I don't know whether Max's image of himself as the Zelig of the music scene in the Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces is entirely accurate, but his book is certainly an invaluable source of information about South African music over the last thirty years or so.
Peta Teanet's story is classic soul singer territory. Born in a small village near the one-horse town of Tzaneen, his performing career started in church. The he formed a band called Relela who got a bit of airplay on Radio Tsonga, but were too far from the action to get much further locally. So he went off to Johannesburg where the streets are paved with gold in search of fame and fortune. After knocking on a lot of doors he eventually got a record deal. His first album, 1988's "Maxaka", represented what Max calls "the birth of an unchallengable hit machine". And so it was until he was tragically shot dead in 1996 at the age of only 30, leaving behind him eight wives (one of them apparently rejoicing in the name of Do It) and thirteen children. OK, that last bit is maybe a little less typical.
Today's selections come from a greatest hits compilation I picked up in Cape Town. According to Max, "Matswele" was "inspired by a young lady who was warning an unruly guy not to touch her breasts without permission", a cause we can all rally round I am sure. I have no idea what the other one is about.
"Matswele" - Peta Teanet
"Nwayingwane" - Peta Teanet
And to think that around the time Peta was getting started in 1988, back in the UK we were being subjected to this:
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
A Load of Kakaki
My friend Mr Jackson has set me a challenge, which is to get a visitor from Chad. He seems to consider this to be the Holy Grail of blogging, and won't concede that 27 Leggies has any merit at all until someone from N'Djamena, Moundou or Mongo comes calling.
He is fairly confident this will never happen. But having worked out how to lure people in, I reckon all I have to do is set the trap then sit back and wait. So - with thanks to Wikipedia - here goes:
"The music of Chad is uniformly awful. I can hardly bear to listen to them plucking tunelessly on the hu hu, blowing tonelessly on the kakaki and banging away on the balafon. Ahmad Pecos and Clement Masdongar are a disgrace to music, while International Challal are an international travesty. And don't get me started on the drum and zither music of the Baguirmians...
If the Chadians want to learn how to make music I suggest they nip over the south-western border into Nigeria and keep going for 500 miles or so until they reach the town of Jos. There are a lot of funky people there, as this little gem from 1976 demonstrates".
"Take Your Soul" - The Sahara All Stars Of Jos
That should do it!
P.S. I found on YouTube this video by Chadian musician Ingamadji Mujos. Don't tell them I said this but it is a good tune.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
I don't know why but I suspect word has got out that I made some rather disobliging remarks about Thomas Denver Jonsson recently and they are rushing to defend one of their own. Let me just say for the record that, regardless of what I may have said about his singing, Mr Jonsson is a model of moral rectitude and a credit to his country.
In an attempt to demonstrate that it isn't an anti-Swedish thing, here is some cultural heritage for you:
"Chris Craft No. 9" - The Shanes
"To Be Free" - The Tages
"Pa Tredje Dagen Uppstandna" - Turid
And in a further pathetic attempt to ingratiate myself with you, may I say that the sons (and daughters) of the spelmän have been responsible for some of my favourite pop moments of the last few years: "Punkrocker" by Teddybears, "We're From Barcelona" by I'm From Barcelona and, most of all, this one: