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Monday 15 February 2010

Big Up The Pygmies

Sting would call this synchronicity. I will settle for coincidence. You might conclude it is contrivance.

Yesterday I posted some Americana from Belgium - a country that in the colonial era ruled over the Congo, where the pygmies come from. In the same post I mentioned the late lamented king of the washboard, Derek Guyler. Immediately after sending that out to you on waves of love I checked my Hotmail account, and there was an e-mail alerting me to the washboard-enhanced Americana of 17 Pygmies.

17 Pygmies are new to me but have apparently been around on and off since 1982. According to the blurb their first effort was "a surf-a-delic, Emerson Lake & Palmer inspired cover version of the theme music to David Lean's 'Lawrence of Arabia'", which can probably only be amazing or appalling - I doubt there is anywhere in between.

Their current album is called "The Outlaw J.D. Ray". It is supposedly a concept album which uses "post-Civil War folk music and pre-WWII blues as a backdrop to a story of ambition, deceit, love lost and found and redemption. With a washboard." It was the washboard that sold it to me.

I have only had a quick first listen to the album but it sounds pretty good to me, albeit not particularly post-Civil War or pre-WWII (but then being English these nuances might be lost on me). I was most immediately taken by the songs featuring the vocals of Meg Maryatt, whose voice I found vaguely reminiscent of Sally Ellyson of Hem. I don't know whether she is the same person as the Meg at Trakwerx Records who kindly sent me the album, but thanks to her (or both of them as the case may be).

Here are a couple of the tracks that struck me the first time around. But it is definitely worth another listen and definitely worth you checking them out. You can get the album from Trakwerx directly, or from eMusic and iTunes. It is also on Amazon in the UK along with several of their earlier albums.

"Atlas Shrugged Blues" - 17 Pygmies

"I Know My Train's A-Comin'" - 17 Pygmies

And here is something for all you shortarses out there:

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