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Monday 30 November 2009

Dedication Time

Today's post is dedicated to my soon to be sister-in-law Maria, in slightly belated honour of her 25th birthday yesterday.

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

There have been a couple of countrified comebacks that have warmed the cockles of my heart recently. Thad Cockrell released his first solo album in six years and Nanci Griffith released her first really good album in about fifteen - like many of her fans I kept buying her albums durng that period more in hope than expectation, and we have finally been rewarded for our patience.

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

Here's Johnny

It has been a while since I posted any South African music on here - not since the end of the last Tsonga Disco frenzy, in fact - so I thought I ought to put it right. Today we have a couple of tracks from Johnny Mokhale from an album called "Ditorong".

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.

Here's Johnny:

"Pono Ya Haho" - Johnny Mokhale

"Rakgali" - Johnny Mokhale

And here's another Johnny:

Thursday 26 November 2009

Caught With His Pants Down

We've all been there, I'm sure...

"The Genitalia Of A Fool" - The Cornell Hurd Band

Wednesday 25 November 2009

No Clever Heading Today

Almost exactly three years ago I spent a week visiting the gin joints and record shops of the Eastern Czech Republic - Brno, Olomouc and Pardubice. Among the goodies I acquired was a compilation by folk-rockers Marsyas.

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

Here are a couple of tracks from my favourite album by one of my favourite bands of the 1980s. The band is Microdisney and the album is 1987's "Crooked Mile".

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


Yesterday I went to visit my newest niece Maya, who is also affectionately known as Pookie. While in the area I popped into the local charity shop to find myself confronted by an album by a band called Poogy. It semed like a sign, so I snapped it up immediately.

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

Smooth Joe

It is a miserable day here in London. Half the buses are on strike, half the tubes aren't running, my team lost and it's raining. How better to soothe the troubled brow than with some smooth Latin soul from Mr Joe Bataan. Both these tracks are from 1970's "Singin' Some Soul" album.

"Unwed Mother"

"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

I have just been having a meal with my Mum and Dad who are in town for a few days. I have inherited many things from my Dad - looks, charm, intelligence and the remnants of the family farm.

"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

You may think of me as a master of the airwaves - and don't let me stop you - but from 9 to 5 I have to spend my time at work. My job is very boring (I'm an office clerk).

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


If David Peel is remembered at all these days it is probably as a one-trick novelty act. His moment in the spotlight came in the early 1970s when John & Yoko adopted him as their pet hippy, signed him to Apple and produced his album "The Pope Smokes Dope".

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

The Professionals

I was strolling down Whitechapel Road the other afternoon and stopped off at the little stall selling bootleg Indian and Bengali CDs for £2 a go - at that price I feel almost obliged to buy something I've never heard of in the hope it turns out to be magical.

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

Burkinabe Boogie

Here is another one of those artists I had never heard of until poking around in the dingier corners of eMusic. Big in Burkina Faso, Omnipresent in Ouagadougou, Ladies and Gentlemen we present Monsieur Georges Ouedraogo.

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

A brief post in praise of curvaceousness:

"Fatty Fatty" - Clancy Eccles

"Fatty Fatty" - The Heptones

"Fat Gal" - Merle Travis

On the subject of big women:

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Strap-on Chins

I was in the pub with Mr F the other night when "Eton Rifles" came on the jukebox and he commented that we will be hearing a lot of that in a few months time. It is certainly true that we are becoming increasingly dominated by Old Etonians - the Mayor of London, the next monarch but one and, by the look of it, our next Prime Minister. As I noted the other week in reference to Frank Turner, even our ferocious protest-singing defenders of the masses go to Eton now.

[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

Webb Masters

Last night it was off to the Union Chapel in Islington to see Jimmy Webb & The Webb Brothers (plus also Romeo Thingummy from the Magic Numbers, a steel guitarist whose name I did not catch and Glen Campbell's son Cal - short for Caledonia apparently - on drums. Also Martin Carr who wasn't the bald one in the Boo Radleys providing very good support).

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

This may be the last time I post some Tsonga Disco for a while as I have run out of albums, but we are going out on top.

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

100 Up!

We have reached our target of getting visitors from a hundred different countries. Hurray!! All we need now is a visitor from Chad and I can retire - and if that isn't an incentive for you to get on to your contacts in N'Djamena I don't know what is.

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 went to see Steve Earle at the Barbican last night - just the man, his guitar and his mandolin. I saw him do an acoustic set with the Del McCoury Band a few years back but I've never seen him just by himself. Needless to say he was utterly magnificent.

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

My friend Mr F is known to enjoy a bit of girl-on-ukelele action, so this is especially for him.

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

What better way to start the week than with a couple of tunes from the presiding genius of the modern Tsonga Disco scene, Mr 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

Mankunku R.I.P.

I learnt yesterday that the great South African saxophonist Winston Mankunku Ngozi died on 12 October at the age of 66. There is a brief obituary here and a more extensive, but slightly out of date, summary of his career here.

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.