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Sunday 30 August 2009

Beautiful Belgique

I am off to Brussels for a few days tomorrow. It is a work trip but I hope to have a bit of spare time to ferret out some groovy Belgian sounds.

Regular readers may recall that on previous visits I managed to pick up a couple of volumes in the "Bel 80" series of CDs. They bring together a selection of vaguely indie Belgian sounds, with one CD for each year in the 1980s, and for people like me who are largely ignorant of the Belgian scene of that era are a good introductory guide. From the 1983 volume, here are Red Zebra with "Beirut By Night".

Sticking with the calypso theme of the last few days, as a bonus here from 1958 is Lord Invader reporting on his own visit to "Beautiful Belgique".

And here is the 2007 Belgian Eurovision entry, the KMGs (which apparently stands for the Krazy Mess Groovers) with "Love Power". It is worth sticking round for the keytar solo.

Saturday 29 August 2009

Latin Lovelies

Right. After yesterday's donkey-based distractions, I am going to have another go at getting into the spirit of things in time for the Notting Hill Carnival.

Here are a couple of calypso/soca numbers from the 1980s. Both feature men falling for the charms of ladies from Latin America - from Mexico and Panama respectively.

First up is the greatest calypsonian of all time, still going strong after over 50 years, the Mighty Sparrow. This is "Margarita" from his 1983 album which is appropriately enough called "The Greatest".

Many of his recordings are much easier to get hold these days, with a huge amount available to download on Amazon etc, but that seems to include very little of his 1970s and 1980s work except in re-recorded form. If you can ever track down this particular album it is well worth the effort - as well as "Margarita" it includes such classics as "Capitalism Gone Mad", "Prophet Of Doom" and "Phillip My Dear", which tells of the time Michael Fagin broke into Buckingham Palace and found his way to the Queen's bedroom. I must post that for you some day.

Our second tale of Latin love is "Companero" by Mighty Gabby. This was released in 1989 on Eddy Grant's Ice Records, and I assume that is Eddy you can hear on backing vocals.

That is a song about a lady from Panama, and as a bonus here is some calypso from Panama. This is from an album with the snappy title of "Panama 2 - Latin Sounds, Cumbia Tropical and Calypso Funk on the Isthmus 1967-77" which, together with Volume 1, is available on eMusic and probably elsewhere. Here is Sir Jablonsky with "Juck Juck Part 1".

To finish off, here is Sparrow in concert a couple of years ago:

Friday 28 August 2009


This coming weekend is August Bank Holiday weekend in the UK, which means among other things the Notting Hill Carnival. My original plan was to put up a selection of hot soca tunes to get us all in the mood but I got distracted and ended up posting the King of Cardigans instead.

I set off with the best of intentions. The opening selection is from an album called "Carnival 93", released as you will probably have guessed in 1993. Here are United Sisters with "Whoa Donkey".

All the references to donkeys got me thinking about one of the greatest of all calypsonians, Lord Melody, who recorded a number of calypsoes using donkey based imagery such as "Belmont Jackass". On his album "Mas Is Devil Power" - which has a fantastic cover - there is a song called "In The Name Of The Law", which relates a tale of the trouble that ensued when someone wouldn't move their ass out of the way. I'm told there may be some double entendre involved here, but I can't see it myself.

And if you are going to start playing songs about recalcitrant donkeys, you really can't leave this one out: Val Doonican with "Delaney's Donkey".

Apologies for failing to capture the carnival spirit. I will try to concentrate next time. But we can't leave the subject without Mr Bob Blackman and his classic contribution to popular culture:

Thursday 27 August 2009

Not So Modern Times

Like all other bloggers I am almost painfully hip, yet for some reason I have always had a soft spot for Al Stewart.

Here are two tracks from his 1975 album "Modern Times": "Not The One" and "The Dark And Rolling Sea".

The sound quality isn't perfect as they are ripped from my old vinyl copy. But if you are a UK reader and like them could I suggest you take yourself off to Amazon where you can currently get "Modern Times", "Oranges" and "Past, Present and Future" in a two-CD set for just £4.98 - what a bargain.

Here is a clip of Al in 1988 performing "Time Passages". I have always like this song but unfortunately whenever I get to the chorus I find myself singing "Pork Sausages" instead. I once tried to rewrite the entire song as a tribute to the humble banger, but it was beyond my humble lyrical gifts.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

From the Banks of Lake Ohrid

Yesterday was an exciting day for the Goggins Global Outreach Programme - we had our first ever visitor from Albania. Welcome on board.

My globe-trotting friend Mister F visited Albania a few years ago and kindly bought me a compilation CD of local pop music titled "Super Perlat e Jugut". From that CD, this is Sinan Hoxha with "Kenge Per Cerciz Topullin". It takes a little while to get going but it is worth the wait.

I have never been to Albania. I have however been very close. In 2007 I went with Mister F - that man again - to Macedonia. The highlight of the trip was a visit to Ohrid, which despite its name is a delightful small town and UNESCO Heritage Site on the banks of the equally delightful Lake Ohrid. Albania is on the other side of the lake. Those blurred hills you can see in this failed attempt to capture the unique light there are Albanian.

While in Ohrid I bought a CD by Ferus Mustafov, also known as Ferus King because he is the King of Macedonian gypsy wedding music. The cat plays a mean saxaphone, as you can hear on this track: "What A Wonderful Woman".

Here is a clip of Sinan Hoxha in action, supported by some dancing divas from Durres:

And in order not to leave Macedonian noses out of joint, here is Ferus blowing up a storm.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Los Pop Espanol

When I was in Madrid a few months ago I picked up for about €5 a three CD compilation of 1960s Spanish pop called "Viva Los 60". As you would expect it was a fairly mixed bag, but there were a few goodies on there. Here are a couple of them.

First up is Frank Dube with the exotic "Mustapha". Then we have what is probably my personal favourite - Karina with "El Baul De Los Recuerdos" (The Chest of Memories).

Karina was a big star in Spain in the late 1960s and early 1970s and according to the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Spanish Culture "she won over Spanish audiences with her sweet, angelic, ingenuous air and became the ideal girlfriend for adolescents of her generation". Having seen this vintage clip of her performing "El Baul De Los Recuerdos" I can see why she would have appealed to the acne-ridden adolescents of Albacete. I think the backing dancers also deserve to be commended for their ability to all be out of time with each other.

Monday 24 August 2009

Cricket's Coming Home...

Yesterday was a momentous day, with England regaining the Ashes in surprisingly convincing fashion at the Oval. But fear not, Australian reader, there will be no cheap triumphalism here. You lot are known for being as gracious in victory as you are in defeat, so I will try to do the same.

Instead we will try to console you by encouraging you to think back to happier times: 1993, Old Trafford, and the arrival in Ashes cricket of Shane Warne – a man of whom it was said, rather like the little girl in the nursery rhyme, that when he was good he was very, very good and when he was bad he was Hauritz. Imagine you were Mike Gatting and how you must have felt to be undone by what can only be called a piece of jiggery pokery.

That is what The Duckworth Lewis Method have done in “Jiggery Pokery”, a track from their new, self-titled album. They are Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy and some big, beardy feller whose name escapes me. The entire album consists of songs on a cricket theme.

“Jiggery Pokery” is actually one of the weaker tracks and untypical of the album as a whole. Much of the rest of it sounds to me more like XTC circa “Skylarking” rather than The Divine Comedy – maybe it is the subject matter or the influence of the big, beardy feller whose name escapes me. After a couple of listens my favourite track so far is probably “Mason On The Boundary”.

The single from the album is “Meeting Mr Miandad”. Here is the video:

Sunday 23 August 2009

Thoughts For The Day

Welcome to the Church of Goggins. Today we bring you a couple of sermons from Ireland.

The first guest speaker is Tom McBride of Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan - better known as Big Tom, the King of Irish Country music. Mr Big Tom speaks out against the hypocrisy of the "Sunday Morning Christian" who make a great show of their beliefs yet behave in a most Un-Christian manner the rest of the week.

The second guest speaker is the Reverend William McCrea, Democratic Unionist Party MP for South Antrim and purveyor of religious country music. His target is the so-called Christians who find endless "Excuses" not to attend church at all.

If you are a Sunday Morning Christian or an excuse-maker, I hope this will give you pause for thought.

NEWS FLASH: In completely unrelated news, I will be taking down the links for June next weekend. So if you are a fan of Mexican psych, old folkies or African rock, jazz, reggae and country, this is your last chance to have a listen. To save wading through everything, all the links are here:

As a final treat, here's Big Tom with "If It's Lonesome At Your Table". Top organ work by John Beattie ("the man who made the sound his own") and MCing by Henry McMahon.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Rat Attack

Today's post really takes me back to my youth. When I was a 15 year old lad growing up in Cape Town it was considered the height of cool to own "Into The Night We Slide" by Radio Rats.

The album - considered by many of the admittedly small number of expert commentators on the subject to be one of the best South African rock albums of all time - came out in late 1978, although like most others I only really became aware of it in early 1979 through the big hit single, which got to number two in the local charts.

That single was "ZX Dan". It blew us away at the time to think that a local band could produce something so good, and it still sounds fantastic now. While it was the stand out track on the album, the rest of it was all pretty good too - take, for example, "I'm Not Like That".

"Into The Night We Slide" was the only album Radio Rats released at the time. After a couple more singles they went quiet, but reformed in the 1990s and I believe are still recording if not performing. My original copy of the album went the way of all flesh many years ago, but it is now available to download - along with the more recent Rats' albums and much more top notch South African music - from Rhythm Online.

Needless to say I could find any clips of Radio Rats, so here instead are some other, lesser, rats who were also active in 1978:

Friday 21 August 2009

Elizabeth Barraclough

Over the last week or so I have been having a bit of a blitz converting various bits of vinyl I've acquired recently into mp3 format. One of them is the 1978 self-titled LP by Elizabeth Barraclough, which I acquired for £1 in the Oxfam shop in Crouch End a couple of months ago.

I had never previously heard of Elizabeth, and bought the album mainly on the basis of the supporting cast. It was released on Bearsville Records so naturally involves Todd Rundgren, but others include The Band's producer John Simon, harmonica legend Paul Butterfield and crack Nashville session players like Charlie McCoy and Kenny Buttrey. It was produced by Albert Grossman, Dylan's former manager and owner of Bearsville, with sleeve notes by Jim Rooney, who went on to produce Nanci Griffith and others. It also has one of the most unflattering photos imaginable on the front cover - it makes her look like a grumpy trucker.

I have not been able to find out much about Elizabeth on the Internet. It appears she was hanging around in Woodstock at the time, which might explain where she met some of these characters, and was dating Paul Butterfield. She went on to record a second album on Bearsville that was produced by Willie Mitchell in Memphis, which sounds worth tracking down. I assume she is English on the basis of her voice, her very English surname and because there is a track on the album called "Shepherd's Bush" (for our international readers, that is a district of London) - but I may be wrong. If anyone knows more, please let me know.

It is hardly an essential album but it is not bad - a nice mix of blues, country, a little bit of soul and some typical 1970s singer-songwriter stuff. For me, the two stand out tracks are "Covered Up In Aces" and "Like The Desert Needs The Sand". Apologies for the slightly ropey sound quality.

Slightly to my surprise I managed to find a clip on YouTube of her performing "Covered Up In Aces". Even more to my surprise, she looks nothing at all like a grumpy trucker. Here she is:

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Tsonga Disco Returns

Recently I have been neglecting my self-appointed mission to bring Tsonga Disco to the masses. Regular readers will know that this is partly a question of rationing, as I only have three CDs worth of Tsonga Disco in my collection. I will be off to South Africa in late September and hope to restock a bit while I am there.

To recap briefly, the Tsonga people live mainly in north eastern South Africa and southern Mozambique. Their music is also known as Tsonga (or Shangaan). Tsonga Disco is the pop version.

As always, given the limited selection, I have had to choose between Joe Shirimani, Thomas Chauke and Madlaks. Today I have gone for Thomas Chauke. Today's tracks are "Xibomu Xa Mvha" and "Lovely Maria".

Both tracks are from a "Best Of" CD available via the One World Cyber Music Store, as are a number of other Thomas Chauke CDs

I am fortunate enough to know a number of Marias, and they are without exception lovely. Today's post is dedicated to them. If you take Maria and add a T and a K you get Martika (or I'm A Kart). Here she is in her kitchen. Great eyebrow work in this video.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

I Feel Like Alan Vega...

My friend Mister F is a cutting edge kind of dude. He makes sure that users of are kept up to date about what he is listening to on Spotify. If he gets very excited about something he has heard he will even Twitter on the subject. Being an old codger myself I envy his easy familiarity with these things.

Yesterday on Spotify he was listening to the new compilation celebrating 30 years of Ze Records and, we are informed, particularly loved "Dream Baby Dream" by Suicide. I do too, but not as much as I love this next track.

Way back in the 1980s Microdisney were one of my favourite bands. The mixture of Cathal Coughlan's spleen-venting and Sean O'Hagan's lush arrangements was perfect - like Steely Dan with teeth - and I have never been as keen on any of the work they have done individually since, which for me is either too sweet or too sour.

My favourite album of theirs was 1987's "Crooked Mile", which includes "Give Me All Of Your Clothes". The reason for including it here is because it quotes from "Dream Baby Dream" (you see I don't just throw this stuff together randomly). It also quotes from "Emma" by Jane Austen but I don't have an audio-book version of that to put up here.

From the same album, here are the Disneys with "Town To Town":

Monday 17 August 2009

Mpharanyana on Monday - Brief Reprise

Newer readers may have missed the "Mpharanyana on Monday" series we ran earlier in the year (when I say "we", I mean "I"). The purpose behind it was to bring the work of Mpharanyana, the premier South African soul singer of the 1970s, to a bigger audience.

I thought it was about time "we" added a couple more tracks. So here are "Be A Man" and "Morena Rethusa Kaofela".

If you liked those - and you really should have - and want some more, here is a link to all the Mpharanyana tracks I've posted previously:

Mpharanyana sadly died way back in 1979 and, unsurprisingly, there are no clips of him in performance on YouTube. So here is something completely unrelated, an old favourite of mine from 1980 - Mr Rocky Burnette with "Tired Of Toein' The Line". This video must have cost literally tens of dollars to make.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Six-Pack Of Soul 2

Despite the exhaustion and ennui resulting from a trek to Colchester yesterday to watch Yeovil Town's fairly dismal performance against Colchester United, I have dragged myself from my bed to fulfil the commitment I made to you last Sunday. Here is the second, and for the moment last, Sunday Soul Six-Pack.

This week we are focussing on the female side of the loving and cheating equation. In no particular order, here are:

Millie Jackson - "Till I Get It Right"
Shirley Brown - "This Used To Be Your House"
Denise LaSalle - "Make Love To Me One More Time"
Barbara Mason - "Shackin' Up"
Sandra Wright - "Lovin' You, Lovin' Me"
Tommie Young - "She Don't Have To See You"

And as a special bonus, here is Shirley Brown with a magnificent live performance of her first and biggest hit, "Woman To Woman". I would strongly recommend that all those poor deluded girls who think that gargling like Mariah Carey conveys emotion should watch this to find out what proper singing is about. Ms Brown has all the notes but doesn't feel the need to do them all at the same time - she let's her extraordinary voice serve the song rather than fart about all over the place.

Rant over. Here's Shirley.

Friday 14 August 2009

Reggae like it used to be

Dotted around my record collection are reggae cover versions of everyone from Pink Floyd to Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme. One of the advantages of being a reggae act is that you can cover songs of any musical style and make them work - or, in the case of UB40, make them sound like every other song you've recorded since "Red, Red Wine" (I had to qualify that insult as they were quite good right at the beginning).

Here are a couple of examples: Paul Davidson with his version of the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider", and Owen Grey's rendition of "Islands In The Stream" by Kenny & Dolly.

You will correctly have guessed that this was just an excuse to play the original, which remains one of the greatest records ever.

Thursday 13 August 2009

Far Out Faro...

... or possibly a Lisbon love-in, I'm not sure. After yesterday's dose of Australian psychedelia we bring you more of the same, but this time from Portugal.

The band's name is Quarteto 1111. I'm not sure whether that is meant to be pronounced Quarteto Mil, Cem E Onze (one thousand, one hundred and eleven) or Quarteto Um Um Um Um (one four times). According to Wikipedia they were formed in Estoril in 1967 and were considered to be the Portuguese Moody Blues. The lead singer, Jose Cid, went on to be a big star in Portugal and performed "Um Grande, Grande Amor" for them in the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest.

These two tracks are taken from a compilation of their EPs that I picked up in Lisbon a couple of years ago. They are "Os Monstros Sagrados" (1969) and "Maria Negra" (1970). I hope you like them.

Here is Jose's towering performance at the 1980 Eurovision. It is a jolly little number but a lot less memorable than his chin.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Far Out Down Under

Here in England we are not very keen on Australia at the moment after what they did to us in the Fourth Test, but all will be forgiven in they somehow remember to be hopeless in the decider at the Oval next week. In the meantime I thought I should extend the hand of friendship to that nation of glowing women and chundering men.

Here are a couple of tracks from a 2002 CD on Big Beat Records called "Peculiar Hole In The Sky", an excellent compilation of Australian pop-psych from the late 1960s. It is available on Amazon in the UK and highly recommended.

Today's choices are "Drawing Room" by The Cam-Pact from Melbourne and "Walking And Talking" by R. Black & The Rockin' V's (real name Rev. Black & The Rocking Vickers) from Woolongong.

Slightly to my surprise I found a Cam-Pact clip on YouTube, but it is only an "interview" with the appropriately named Dick Williams:

To make up for that disappointment, let's return to where we started with a more familar Australian standard:

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Laura Nyro

I have just finished reading "Soul Picnic", a biography of the late Laura Nyro written by Michelle Kort. It is a very good read and I would thoroughly recommend if you are a fan although, in the UK at least, it is not the easiest thing to get hold of - it was ordered on Amazon for me late last year as a Christmas present but only finally arrived a couple of months ago.

I have never particularly warmed to some of Laura's more earnest moments - large chunks of "New York Tendaberry", for example - where you imagine her hunched over her piano, banging away at the keys and baring her soul. But when she is more mellow or more chirpy it is another matter altogether, and she did have the most wonderfully soulful voice as was evident whenever she reinterpreted an old pop or soul standard from the 1960s.

"Angel In The Dark" was an album released in 2001, four years after her death from ovarian cancer. It brings together tracks recorded at various sessions during 1994 and 1995, some of which then had additional instrumentation added to them to "finish them off". It is a mixture of covers and originals, and overall works very well.

From the album, here is her cover version of the Delfonics' "La La Means I Love You", and her own "Sweet Dream Fade" - according to the book, the last song recorded at her last ever recording session.

And here are Three Dog Night with their version of "Eli's Comin'":

Sunday 9 August 2009

Six-Pack Of Soul

I was looking back at my recent posts and came to the conclusion that soul music had been badly under-represented. So to make up for it here are songs by six of my favourite male soul singers. You will probably know all the singers but you may not know all the songs.

In no particular order, here are:

"If You Really Love Him" - William Bell
"What Good Is A Lie" - Wilson Pickett
"I'll Be Your Everything" - Percy Sledge
"You're Gonna Love Yourself In The Morning" - Bobby "Blue" Bland
"Party Life" - Johnnie Taylor
"As My Thoughts Go Back To You" - Joe Simon

If I remember I'll do the same with the ladies next Sunday. In the meantime here is a clip of William Bell performing the classic "You Don't Miss Your Water":

Saturday 8 August 2009

Geordies Go Global

My recently arrived niece Maya is half-Geordie (for our international readers that is someone who comes from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne) but living in London. So she will expected to be rightly proud of her cultural heritage yet at the same time entirely at ease with the cosmopolitan ways of 21st century London.

This may be a tricky balance to strike. In an effort to help her do so, here is an example of how it can be done. Take an old Geordie classic like "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" by The Animals and give it a sort of Gypsy/ Middle Eastern remake. The end result is "Lolole" by Alabina, a French based group consisting of some Spanish gypsies fronted by an Israeli Jew of Moroccan descent. And very good it is too.

Here are both versions:

I think it certainly works better than the hairiest member of Lindisfarne attempting what appears to be an Italian accent at about 1:15 in this rendition of the Geordie National Anthem from 1971:

Or indeed these Geordie attempts at a Caribbean accent from a few years earlier:

Thursday 6 August 2009

Turkish Time

Here is a little something from the King of Anatolian rock, Erkin Koray. This is "Hele Yar" from his 1974 album "Elektronik Turkuler".

For a fuller explanation try Julian Cope's Head Heritage website. It is not exactly brief and to the point but if you stick with it he explains it all eventually.

Here is the great man - Erkin not Julian.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Teutonic Titans

Even in the Internet age there are bands who remain almost a total mystery. One example is a German outfit called Radio Telefunken Hamburg.

A few years ago a friend gave me a CD-R with some of their recordings on it. There were very few details apart from the titles, so I'm not even sure whether it was a complete album or just a random selection of tracks. Nor am I sure when it dates from, though I would guess mid to late 1980s. There are some obvious Kraftwerk influences and the track I have chosen today - "Checkpoint" - is also slightly reminiscent of Art of Noise's version of "Peter Gunn".

About the only other solid information I have is that Radio Telefunken Hamburg consisted of David Buxtehude and Jurgen Walter. I have found nothing about Buxtehude on the Internet - the friend who gave me the CD thought he had heard that he once played with The Icicle Works which seems a bit unlikely but you never know. There was a 17th century composer called Dietrich Buxtehude, so conceivably the musical gene has been passed down the generations.

According to Wikipedia there is a Jurgen Walter who is a German MP and a Hans-Jurgen Walter who pioneered the use of Gestalt theory in psychotherapy. Neither of these seem very likely candidates but the Gestalt man does look a bit like a Krautrocker.

Anyway, here is "Checkpoint". Let me know what you think and let me know if you have any more information about the band.

To finish off, here is a classic German Eurovision entry from the days when they still made an effort. From 1979 this is Dschinghis Khan with "Dschinghis Khan".

They seem to be a bit of a supergroup. Dschinghis himself is clearly Arthur Brown, the woman in the gold top appears to be Lisa Goddard, and the bloke at the front looks like he used to play second mandolin in Lindisfarne or superfluous rhythm guitar in Steeleye Span. What a mighty ensemble.

Monday 3 August 2009

Larry Jon Wilson

I have been meaning to feature Larry Jon Wilson for a while now for two simple reasons: he writes great songs and he is a great singer. He has the most fantastically evocative voice which, together with the way he mixes country and soul to create something all his own, reminds me an awful lot of one of my all time heroes, Charlie Rich.

Mr Wilson's life story is quite something and is explained in detail on his website but briefly: he didn't pick up a guitar until the age of 30 in 1970; within five years had a recording contract with Monument Records and made four excellent albums; five years later gave up recording; that was it until 2004 when he had a couple of new tracks on the Country Soul Revue's "Testifying" LP; then produced a self-titled acoustic come-back album last year. I was lucky enough to see him when the Country Soul Revue played London to support the album and despite the presence of the likes of Tony Joe White he stole the show.

Here are three tracks, one each from his first two albums and one more recent.

From "New Beginnings" (1975): "Broomstraw Philosophers and Scuppernong Wine".

From "Let Me Sing My Song To You" (1976): "Think I Feel A Hitch Hike Coming On".

From the Country Soul Revue album (2004) - and possibly my favourite of all his songs - "Sapelo".

I haven't included anything from his latest album as I really think you ought to go out and buy it, but to give you a taster here is a clip of "Shoulders" from that album - presumably shot "on location" (the album was recorded over the course of a week in a hotel room in Florida).

Sunday 2 August 2009

A Little Bit Of Religion

It being the Sabbath I thought we should mark the occasion with something suitable. So here is some gospel music from Ghana: Hannah Marfo with "Yen Som Obiara" and "Papa Muo Bone Muo". Both tracks are from her 2004 album "Wontumi", available on eMusic.

What little I know about Hannah I learnt from the Music in Ghana website. As well as being a popular singer in Ghana she also runs a record store in Accra specialising in Christian music. I wonder if they stock this:

Saturday 1 August 2009

Songs Of The Old West

According to the sleeve notes on Brendan Shine's "Irish Startime" LP: "Not many artistes can switch from Irish songs to Country songs and give each idiom its own subtle feel in interpretation and presentation."

With all due respect to the mighty Mr Shine, that may have been true in 1978 when that album was released, but at some point in the last 30 years they seem to have discovered a formula for churning out Country 'n Irish numbers.

The basic steps for producing what you might call a Bog Standard ("For Peat's Sake", I hear you say, "no more puns") Country 'n Irish song are:

1. Take a conventional country tune that could have been produced in Nashville any time between the late 1950s and mid 1970s; then either

2. Throw in as many references to Irish place names as you think you can get away with; or

3. Get very sentimental about your mother.

Kevin Prendergast's album "My Home Is In The West" is a typical example of how to apply this technique. On a single album he crams in songs about Galway, Roscommon, Leitrim and Mayo (twice) - picking a county or province is always a good excuse for mentioning lots of towns and villages - and seven others with other place names in the title. He rounds the collection off with three or possibly four songs about mother (I am assuming "Our House Is A Home" is a tribute to Kevin's silver-haired Mammy but I can't bring myself to listen to it again in order to check).

Where the "Irish Startime" sleeve notes are correct is that not everybody gets it right. Here are examples of how to do it and how not to it.

RIGHT: "Pretty Little Girl From Omagh" by Frankie McBride. While primarily about Omagh, Frankie manages to refer to Strabane and Monaghan (to help you place Omagh geographically) and Tramore (where he and the pretty little girl met on holiday). But he does so in such a way that it doesn't seemed forced. As they always say about film nudity, it appears integral to the plot.

WRONG: "I've Been Everywhere" by Dermot Hegarty. This Irish rewrite of the old Hank Snow standard just comes across as desperate. If I was a resident of one of the 73,000 places he mentions I think I would feel used.

For true mastery of the form, though, you do need to go back to one of the Colossi of Country 'n Irish like Mr Shine or Big Tom. As it's a Saturday we'll treat you to a clip from each of them. Watch out for some excellent jumper work by Big Tom.