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Tuesday 22 September 2009

South African Six Pack

This will be the last post for a couple of weeks as I am off to South Africa on holiday tomorrow. To get me in the mood, and to tide you over until I get back, here are six tunes from South Africa. There is hopefully a little something for everyone - some soulful 1960s psychedelia, some 1970s pop, some reggae, some Tsonga Disco, some jazz-tinged Xhosa traditional sounds and an Afrikaans troubadour. You'll need to work out for yourselves which is which (although the name Rastaman Nkhushu probably gives you a clue as to which is the reggae track).

"Umendo" - Stompie Mavi

Blue Colour" - The Flames

Johannesburg" - The Julian Laxton Band

Changana" - Madlaks

'n Brief Vir Simone" - Anton Goosen

Moshito Ke Was Kucheku" - Rastaman Nkhushu

When I get back I will be taking the links for July down, so if you are at a loose end you might want to stroll through them - there is more South African stuff, delights from various parts of Eastern Europe and lots of folkies.I'll leave you with a lovely clip of the late lamented Stompie Mavi and friends. Have fun and I'll see you in October.

Monday 21 September 2009

Loving The Aliens

Here are a couple of heart-rending tales of interplanetary romance:

"Beautiful Zelda" - The Bonzo Dog Band

"Alien Woman" - Mighty Sparrow

And here is another one. I realise that male dancers are required by their contracts to perform in a camp manner but the fellow with the moustache in this video goes well beyond his contractual obligations.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Hurts So Often

Here are four versions of "It Hurts So Good" for you. In order they are: the first version to be released from 1971; the US hit version from 1973; the reggae version that was a top 10 hit in the UK in 1975; and a demo version by the man who wrote it that was finally released in 2005 on "Pick Hit Of The Week", a collection of some of his previously unreleased recordings from the early 1970s.

"It Hurts So Good" - Katie Love

"Hurts So Good" - Millie Jackson

"Hurt So Good" - Susan Cadogan

"It Hurts So Good" - Prince Phillip Mitchell

I don't think I have a favourite - all four versions are excellent and sufficiently different from each other to set themselves apart.

Here is a clip of Susan Cadogan. Top hair.

Saturday 19 September 2009

Jimmy Jimmy

There is a stall in Whitechapel Road that sells bootleg Indian and Bengali CDs for £2 a go. While passing by the other day I bought one called "Hilux Hot & Hits Old Remix Vol. 4".

It seems to be a sort of cross between a Bollywood equivalent of the Top of the Pops albums you used to get in the 1970s (where session musicians would attempt to recreate the hits of the day) and what I understand the young people call "mash ups". The mystery artists behind the album have taken hits from different Bollywood movies and gone to work on them.

One song to have attracted their attention is "Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja" from 1982's "Disco Dancer". This is the song that was remade as "Jimmy" by M.I.A. and the tune has apparently also been nicked by Ottowan and Devo in its time. Here are the original and the mash up:

"Jimmy Jimmy Aaja Aaja" - Parvati Khan

"Jimmy Jimmy" - from "Hilux Hot & Hits Old Remix Vol. 4"

Personally I think the Hilux Massive have massacred what is a pretty decent tune, but then what do I know. They make a rather better job of "Pehli Pehli Baar" from 1999's "Sirf Tum". Watch out for the intro to "Human Nature" that suddenly appears about one minute in.

I have never seen "Disco Dancer" but judging by the plot summary and quotes on Wikipedia it is a bit of a cracker. I particularly like the line "He's got guitar phobia. A guitar killed his mother." Here is the clip from film:

Friday 18 September 2009

Johnny Darrell

Country singers are stereotypically meant to be unlucky in life and love, but few can have been as unlucky in their career as Johnny Darrell.

Back in the 1960s he was the first person to record "Green, Green Grass Of Home" and had to stand by and watch as Porter Wagoner and Tom Jones had huge success with it. And then exactly the same happened with "Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp" and "Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town". Even his biggest hit, Bobby Goldsboro's "With Pen In Hand", became an even bigger pop hit for Vicki Carr. His career petered out in the mid 1970s and he passed away in 1997.

Whatever the reason for his comparative lack of success it wasn't lack of talent. As well being a fine singer his choice of material was consistently more interesting than most stuff coming out of Nashville in the late 1960s. In 1970 he made an album in L.A. called "California Stopover" which included among other things what I believe are the first ever recordings of Jackson Browne's "These Days" and Lowell George's "Willin'". The album featured Clarence White of The Byrds on guitar who, true to form, nicked "Willin'" for the next Byrds album.

Raven Records put out an excellent compilation of Johnny's work called "Singin' It Lonesome" a few years ago and if you are a country fan it is well worth tracking down. From that album here are "Sing It Lonesome" and "Freedom In The Yard".

Here he is with his hit:

Thursday 17 September 2009

Return of Tsonga Disco

This time next week I will be landing in Cape Town for a 10 day holiday. Most of the time I will be tucked away in the lovely fishing village of Arniston with members of the extended Goggins family, but I hope to get the chance to visit the record stores of Cape Town while I'm there. My main task will be to replenish my limited stock of Tsonga Disco albums so that I can return to my self appointed mission with renewed vigour.

In the meantime here are a couple of examples of Tsonga Disco from the mighty Joe Shirimani. I posted both of these in the early days of the blog but only the most loyal readers will remember that and I'm sure you'll both forgive me for repeating myself. So here are "Basani" and "Limpopo".

I have also posted the video for "Basani" before but it is well worth another look.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Bunny's Boiling!

It has been a while since I posted some reggae up here so I thought it was time to put that right.

I don't want to seem needlessly contrary or controversial but as good as Bob Marley was he is probably my least favourite of the three original Wailers. I am more likely to dig out Peter Tosh's "Legalise It" or "Bush Doctor", for example, than any of Bob's albums - with the possible exception of "Survival".

But if I had to choose one Wailer I would probably plump for Bunny Wailer. He has a great legacy and, having the considerable advantage over the other two of being alive, is still adding to it. His 1977 "Protest" album is one of my favourite albums of all time, and 1989's "Liberation" is not too far behind. Today's selections come from "Liberation":

"Botha The Mosquito"

"Bald Head Jesus"

Although rightly best known as a roots man, Bunny can be a bit of a party dude as well when he is in the mood. This is one of his:

Tuesday 15 September 2009

When Plants Go Bad

This is a public health warning. While panicking about swine flu, e.coli and so on don't overlook the danger posed by more everyday predators like flowers. Don't be fooled by the pretty colours and nice smells - they are not as harmless as they seem.

"Beware Of The Flowers" - John Otway

"Even Roses Have Thorns" - Jesus Couldn't Drum

As any science expert will tell you, the most dangerous plants of all are the Triffids:

Monday 14 September 2009

A Big Star in Amritsar

There is nothing like a bit of Punjabi Pop to get you going on a dull Monday morning. If you agree, this is the place for you. If not, sorry.

I know next to nothing about Punjabi Pop but last week I picked up a 2001 greatest hits CD by Jasbir Jassi in Oxfam for £1 and I like it very much. On a lot of the numbers there is a bit of a soca feel which always works for me.

According to the sleeve notes "Born in 1970 in Dalia Mirjanpur village in Gurdaspur district in Punjab, Jasbir Jassi has overcome regional and linguistic barriers to establish himself as one of the biggest icons in the Popular category of Indian music. Today he is popular not only in his home state of Punjab and surrounding states but also in many parts of the South and the East, reaffirming the oft-repeated saying 'Music transcends all barriers'". And so say all of us.

Here are two of his biggest hits: "Dil Le Gayee" (1998) and "Hudi Hudi" (1999).

And here he is giving it the full Bollywood meets hip hop video treatment:

Sunday 13 September 2009

Barry Who?

Barry Normal & The Camels, that's who.

This is by way of a tribute to all those bands I have seen over the years who could put on a good live show but for whatever reason - lack of luck, persistence or that indefinable spark - never made it beyond the local circuit. It is probably just a sign of me becoming an old fart but, like proper pubs, they were the sort of outfit you took for granted because you assumed they would never be in short supply but that you appreciate more now that they aren't.

Barry Normal & The Camels were stalwarts of the South London post-punk scene of the late 1970s who shared a stage with the likes of the Monochrome Set, Classix Nouveaux and Eddie & The Hot Rods. Needless to say they have their own MySpace page these days where you can find more details if you are keen.

The only recording of theirs I have - possibly the only recording that remains - is of a gig in Hammersmith in 1979. It was done on cassette and the sound quality is truly appalling - barely audible at points. But never mind the quality, feel the energy. Here is "Girl Of My Dreams".

As a bonus, from the same era here are the slightly better known (and better recorded) Delta 5 with "Anticipation".

Needless to say there are no Barry Normal clips anywhere, but sticking with the camel theme here are the Sopwith Camel with "Hello, Hello":

Saturday 12 September 2009

Estonian Beatles Club

This being the week when all the remastered Beatles albums have been reissued I thought I should jump on the bandwagon while I had the chance.

As it happens this was also the week when I acquired the complex piece of technology (otherwise known as a cable) that enables me to convert cassettes into mp3 format.

So the obvious thing to do was to dig out "Eile Veel: Estonian Beatles Club Volume 2". This is a cassette I picked up while visiting Tallinn in the early 1990s and, as the name suggests, features Beatles covers by Estonian artists (well mostly Beatles covers - for some reason it also includes a version of Paul's "No More Lonely Nights" which is almost as dull as the original). The cassette was issued in 1991 and features tracks recorded between 1966 and 1985. The two I have selected are both from 1985 - clearly a vintage year.

Please excuse the quality. My remastering skills don't match those of the people behind the big event, and I have had to turn the input and output volumes right down to remove most of the distortion, so you may need to adjust your controls.

When you do you will hear Hubriid's version of "Roccy Roccoon" (as it is spelt on the cassette), and Silvi Vrait & Levimo with the decidedly groovy "Narr Mae Otsas" - better known as "Fool On The Hill".

Silvi is evidently a bit of a star in Estonia and went on to represent them in Eurovision in 1994. Here she is in action (you will want to skip the first minute or so unless you are interested in seeing Irish craftspeople at work with accompanying commentary in Dutch):

Friday 11 September 2009

Go, Bob!

Last night I went to the Luminaire in Kilburn to see Bob Lind entertain a small but appreciative audience. Very good he was too.

Having only previously heard his early albums most of the songs he played were new to me, but he clearly has lost the knack of knocking out a good tune. He also did a cover of Tom Paxton's "Bottle of Wine" where he slowed it right down and revealed the darkness in the lyrics. Having been raised on Tom since I was a baby I'm a big fan of his, but have never particularly cared for "Bottle of Wine" - Bob has changed my mind on that.

Here are a couple of songs from the old days:

From "Don't Be Concerned" (1966): "Truly Julie's Blues (I'll Be There) "

From "Since There Were Circles" (1971): "Spilling Over"

And as a special treat, why not catch the John Otway/ Wild Willy Barrett rendition of Bob's "Cheryl's Going Home" (embedding disabled by request and all that so you'll need to do an extra click but believe me it is worth it even if just for the inept speaker jumping at 3:45).

Thursday 10 September 2009

Soul Brothers

The Soul Brothers are one of the stalwarts of the South African soul and mbaqanga scene. They made their first records in 1976 and, despite various trials and tribulations along the way, are still going strong.

They mainly record in Zulu but in the very early days released a few singles in English which were then brought together on the 1977 album "I Feel So Lonely Without You". From that album, here are "Take Me Home Taximan" and "You Are Funny".

"I Feel So Lonely Without You" and many other Soul Brothers albums are available from the One World Cyber Music Store. As mentioned here before if ordering from the UK the postage is not cheap but the CDs are (usually between £3-7 at current exchange rates) so it all balances out.

Here are the lads in action a bit more recently:

Tuesday 8 September 2009

The Cosmic Cowboy

In about 1981 Michael Murphey started calling himself Michael Martin Murphey. As a general rule of thumb:

Without Martin = good
With Martin = a bit boring

Best of all were the early 1970s when he was hanging out in Austin with Willie, Jerry Jeff, the Lost Gonzos and the rest of the gang. His first two albums - "Geronimo's Cadillac" and "Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir" - date from the period and are a couple of crackers. Both were reissued a few years ago on Raven Records with added live tracks and are worth tracking down.

Here are a couple from 1972's "Geronimo's Cadillac" album: "Waking Up" and "Calico Silver".

Here is a clip of him in the Martin years performing an old favourite from pre-Martin days, "Texas Morning":

Monday 7 September 2009

Where The Action Is

The Action were an English mod band who released a few commercially unsuccessful singles in the mid-1960s before being released from their contract with Parlophone. In 1967 and 1968 they spent some time in George Martin's studios producing demos to try to impress record companies, but without success. At which point they split, with singer Reg King going solo and the rest of the group re-emerging as the critically acclaimed Mighty Baby.

The demos were finally released in 2000 on Reaction Records under the name "Rolled Gold". To my mind they are amongst the best British psychedelic recordings of that period and it is quite astonishing that the world had to wait over 30 years to hear them. All of "Rolled Gold" is worth a listen but here are two of my personal favourites: "Strange Roads" and "Brain".

Action? Mods? Yes, with an air of inevitability, today's clip is from the late 1970's mod revival - "Time For Action" by Secret Affair (it starts after the tail end of the Undertones).

Sunday 6 September 2009

Warning - New Music

I woke up this morning to the slightly alarming news that Ali Bongo is now running Gabon. That is a big step up from being President of the Magic Circle. I only hope he is up to the job.

A nice man called Terry has very kindly sent me an advance copy of "Rocket", the new album by the Darling New Neighbors which will be generally available from 15 October. The band are a three-piece from Austin, Texas - which I suppose means we have to forgive the lack of a "u" in "neighbours" - and more details are available from their website.

On first listen I was struck by the range of styles - some more my cup of tea than others - so there probably something for everyone and overall it sounded pretty good. There are ten originals plus a sort of accordion-based ska version of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart", which works better than it ought to when you see it written down.

I don't know whether Neil is an influence, but a few tracks feature Crazy Horse style chiming guitars. This works particularly well on "Indian Mounds", which for me was the track that immediately stood out. I see from Hype Machine that it has already been posted on a couple of other blogs including Blouse, so you might want to check them out.

Elizabeth Jackson is the lead singer but a couple of tracks feature the drummer, Reid Faist. One of these was the other track that I most enjoyed on first listen and is just right for Sunday morning. So here are Darling New Neighbors with "Pining".

Some people get on better with their neighbours than others:

Saturday 5 September 2009

All Hail, Insects!

Last night I was at the Queen Elizabeth Hall for the rather pretentiously titled "Diaphanously Yours", which was billed as a musical tribute to insects. It is part of something called "Pestival 2009", which "celebrates how insects shape our world and how humans shape the world of insects, in both science and the arts". Quite.

The line-up included Robyn Hitchcock, Mike Heron, Green Gartside and Rhodri Marsden of Scritti Politti - all of whom had also been involved in the Incredible String Band tribute at the Barbican in July - Graham Coxon and a few others.

They struggled to meet the remit at times, with a couple of songs about amoeba and one that made a passing reference to webs but otherwise made no reference to insects (and I don't think spiders are classified as insects anyway). Scritti Politti's "Wood Beez (Pray like Aretha Franklin)" was probably stretching the point too, but it was bloody good, as were the two cover versions they did - The Cramps' "Human Fly" and an old reggae song called "Where Fat Lies, Ant Follow".

The show flagged occasionally, but overall I enjoyed it. Personal highlights included the Scritti set and the two numbers the entire ensemble performed at the end, stomping versions of Wire's "I Am The Fly" and this one - Robyn Hitchcock's own "Ole! Tarantula".

NEWS FLASH: Mister F has posted some photos of the gig on Flickr. They were taken on his mobile so are not of the best quality, but if you want to experience what it was like being there while suffering from cataracts, click here. There are a couple of others as well.

NEWS FLASH (2): mp3s of the Scritti Politti set are now available at the Scritti fan-site bibbly-o-tek. Look for the post of 7 September.

Back to the original post:

As a bonus, here are two more songs with an insect in the title:

"Praying Mantis" - Don Dixon

"Hey There Little Firefly" - Disco Tex & His Sex-O-Lettes

And here is the original video for "Wood Beez", featuring REAL BEES (well, beehives anyway. Also fencing):

Thursday 3 September 2009

What Chai?

While ferreting around in the dustier regions of eMusic the other day, I found a number of albums by Thai singer Chai Mueangsing. From an album called "Ruam Hit Pleng Thai Amata Lukthung 3", here is "Dek Aor Aor".

I don't speak Thai, but I assume from the words "Hit" and "3" that the album is the third volume of his greatest hits. I don't know when the song was recorded but from the instrumentation I am guessing it was the 1980s at the earliest - possibly later.

I am also guessing that Chai is the same person as Chai Muansing who is featured on the "Thai Beat A Go Go" series of CDs, which features Thai pop from the 1960s. If there is anyone out there who knows anything about Thai music or the phonetic spelling of Thai in English perhaps you could confirm that. Either way, from Volume 2 here is "Pee Kow Pee Ork".

I have never been to Thailand myself but I know a dissolute aristocrat who visits regularly and has a couple of special "friends" who go by the implausible names of Mr Bond and Browneye. This is dedicated to them.

Wednesday 2 September 2009

Sounds Of Soweto

Let's get September off to a slightly belated flyer with a couple of South African dancefloor classics from the late 1980s:

"Jive Soweto" - Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse

"Skorokoro" - Condry Ziqubu

You can probably work out the meaning of "Jive Soweto" yourselves. A "skorokoro" is/was a South African township term for a dilapidated vehicle, which included many of the minibus taxis that used to ply their trade in the days before they were regulated. I couldn't find any Condry Ziqubu clips on YouTube, so instead here is another song about taxis: