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Friday 30 July 2010

Tsonga Special

We haven't had any Tsonga Disco up here for a while so, to make up for it, here is a bumper batch from assorted old friends.

"Tambai" - Peta Teanet

"Kerendwana" - General Muzka

"Jikavonunu" - Madlaks

"Macka 50/50" - Penny Penny

"Xisola Hosi" - Conny Chauke

"Sathani" - Joe Shirimani

"Vakonwana" - The Black Force

"Makula" - Loaf Boy

If you like all that - and I know you do - you have probably already got the great Shangaan Electro album on Honest Jon's. But if not, what are you waiting for?

That's it from me for the next ten days or so as I'm off on my hols tomorrow. Watch out Antwerp, Cologne and all places in between. We may make a little detour into the Netherlands, but I doubt we'll get as far as Amsterdam where these boys come from. But then they'll probably be in London or New York City.

Thursday 29 July 2010


Advance notice for all you Tsonga Disco fans out there - we will be bringing you a bumper batch of goodies tomorrow. In the meantime, for no particular reason, here are a couple of tracks from "Pearls In The Snow", a 1999 tribute to the songs of Kinky Friedman.

The album features luminaries such as Willie Nelson, Tom Waits and Dwight Yoakum, and overall it is a bit of a cracker. Here are my two favourites.

"Autograph" - Delbert McClinton

"Lady Yesterday" - Marty Stuart

And in a further "no particular reason" moment, here are Noosha and the boys. If you can spot the Van Morrison and Ronnie Lane influences in this, perhaps you could let me know. And as for The Herd...

Monday 26 July 2010

No More Cookin'

At one point during last week's Otis Gibbs gig at the Sheep Walk, we were encouraged to shout "F*** Off, Ramblin' Steve" at our host, which we did with gusto. I wish we hadn't now because it appears he has taken us at a word.

All the "What's Cookin'" regulars were no doubt as stunned as I was to get an e-mail from Steve and Ali yesterday saying that after seven years of running the club they were knackered and, as a result, next Saturday's show will be the last one at the Sheep Walk. It was not entirely clear whether this means it will be the last ever "What's Cookin'" or just the last of the regular nights at the Sheep Walk, but either way it is going to leave a massive hole in the East London music scene. This is the worst thing to happen since Barry left the Borderline.

Unfortunately I can't be there on Saturday as I will be doing some rambling of my own, but I am sure they will go out in style. Steve and Ali, thanks for all the great nights, and come back soon.

"That's What I Call Cookin'" - Carolyn Martin (from "Cookin' With Carolyn", 2010)

"Steve's Last Ramble" - Steve Earle (from "Transcendental Blues", 2000)

Apart from Otis, probably the best gig I saw there was Pete Molinari late last year. Here he is.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Tales Of The Unexpected

You lot are very broad-minded about music, and you will have noticed that the more you listen to the more you start hearing similarities between styles and artists that should have nothing in common.

Even allowing for that, I was taken completely by surprise when I heard this track from South Sulawesi in Indonesia (on a Smithsonian album called "Discovering Indonesia") which really reminded me of a certain type of raw-voiced English female folk singer like Lal Waterson and Anne Briggs. Compare and contrast.

"Kemayoran" - Grup Bamba Puang

"Hills Of Greenmor" - Anne Briggs

And very much in the same vein:

Saturday 24 July 2010

Sparrow On Saturday

It has been another lovely Summer's day here in London. And who better to keep the sunshine mood going than the greatest Calypsonian of all time, Mighty Sparrow.

"Jane" - Mighty Sparrow

"Drunk And Disorderly" - Mighty Sparrow

"English Diplomacy" - Mighty Sparrow

"Yuh Go Break Meh Pogo Stick" - Mighty Sparrow

Some claim there is some innuendo involved in that last one. I don't see it myself.

As a bonus for those of you who like modern banging noises, here is a remake of his standard "Mr Walker". It's not a patch on the original but it's not bad.

"Mr. Walker" - Mighty Sparrow & Keegan Taylor

Thursday 22 July 2010

Uncle Briscoe's Boy

We were gigging again last night. This time it was off to Leytonstone for "What's Cookin'" and another opportunity to see the mighty Otis Gibbs upstairs at the Sheep Walk. The pocket-sized Steve Earle was in fine form.

I have seen Otis three times in the last twelve months, twice at the Sheep Walk and once at the Borderline. While he deserves a huge audience, I think he is best enjoyed in a smaller venue (there were 80-100 people there last night and you couldn't have got many more in) because he can really work that room.

It was another great evening, climaxing as usual with an unamplified rendition of "Karlov Most", performed while strolling round the room smiling benignly. He finished the song standing next to me and gave me a wink at the end. One mild criticism is that he could do with updating some of the patter - I think I know it almost off by heart now. But it is really very good patter, and who wouldn't want to hear the tale of Uncle Briscoe and the infant Otis again.

"Murder At The Read House" - Otis Gibbs (from "One Day Our Whispers", 2004)

"The Farmer Is The Man" - Otis Gibbs (from "Song Of America", Various Artists, 2007)

"Caroline" - Otis Gibbs (from "Grandpa Walked A Picketline", 2009)

For the clip, you may want to skip through to about 0:45 when Otis gets going.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Festival Brazil

What a great weekend. The extended Goggins family gathered on Saturday for my cousin's wedding, and then reconvened again on Sunday lunchtime for a barbeque before seeing the happy couple off on their honeymoon. At the barbeque some of the younger Goggi realised they were able to clamber up the inside of the ten foot high garden hedge, leading to surreal sights like this one.

Keeping up the surrealism, I then headed off to the South Bank to meet up with Mr F for a concert by Os Mutantes. The Festival Hall was barely half full but 80% of those who were there were Brazilians and their enthusiasm more than made up for the empty seats.

I only know a few Os Mutantes tracks so most of what we heard was new to me, but I enjoyed most of it very much. Some parts were a bit more AOR than I had expected. There was one extended Santana-style workout followed by a power ballad that had all the Brazilans singing along. I can only assume that after the early experimental for which they are known in the UK they went a bit more mainstream, with greater commercial success - the Jefferson Airplane to Starship transition, if you like. But overall, very good.

The gig was part of the South Bank's Festival Brazil season. I don't have any Os Mutantes for you but, in the same spirit as the South Bank, here is a mini-festival of Brazilan music.

"Venha Dormir Em Casa" - Tim Maia

"Nhem Nhem Nhem"- Totonho & Os Cabra

"Tao Longe De Mim" - Os Brazoes

"Mentira" - Marcos Valle

"Danado De Bom" - Luiz Gonzaga

"Berenice" - Jorge Ben

Somewhat implausibly, the Ossies paid tribute to the ground-breaking work of Sergio Mendes. Stuff like this.

Friday 16 July 2010

Mpharanyana Returns

In the early days of this blog I tried to pursue two "campaigns" (well, three if you count the half-hearted attempt to get Roger Whittaker elected to the International Whistlers' Convention Hall of Fame). One was to promote Tsonga Disco and the other was the bring to the world's attention the works of the late Mpharanyana, the greatest South African soul singer of the 1970s, and probably of any era.

The Tsonga Disco campaign continues, and there will be some new treats for you in the next couple of weeks, but after three months of having a weekly "Mpharanyana on Monday" slot that petered out. But in those early days I was averaging about five hits a day, and three of those were me checking to see if anyone else had passed by, so even most of our current regulars will probably have missed Mpharanyana. For that reason I thought we should bring him back.

Mpharanyana - real name Jacob Radebe - hailed from Katlehong in the East Rand and sang primarily in Sesotho, occasionally in English. Whatever the language, the sound was pure Southern Soul. He was backed by some top quality musicians including the legendary West Nkosi and Ray Phiri of Stimela and "Graceland" fame, both of whom also contributed to the songwriting. With the talents involved is it any wonder - to quote our old friend Max Mojapelo in his seminal personal history of South African music, "Beyond Memory" - "his hitlist was longer than praise singer Kgomedi Shika Lekgothwane's dedication to Prince George, the longest praise poem I ever had to memorise at school". No, me neither, but you get his drift.

Max also has something interesting to reveal about Mpharanyana's distinctive cough. I had always assumed it was a stylistic quirk inspired by Bobby 'Blue' Bland's throat-clearing sound, but it seems not. Apparently he had a coughing problem and "the tape would be stopped so many times during recording sessions for him to cough, until one day his producer West [Nkosi] decided that he should just cough within the songs". As Max notes, "funny how creativity can turn obstacles into something positive".

Anyway, here is a bit of a taster for you - three tracks including Mpharanyana's English language tribute to his home town of Katlehong, which conveniently rhymes with "where I belong".

"Kathelong" - Mpharanyana

"Mary" - Mpharanyana

"Yiyo Indlela Leyo" - Mpharanyana

Now, if you love those as much as I think you will, you aren't going to want me to string you along with one or two tracks a week. So why not follow this link for a load more. Fill your boots and tell your friends.

Needless to say there are no Mpharanyana clips on YouTube. But there is some Bobby 'Blue' Bland. Here he is in 1977 with the old country standard "Today I Started Loving You Again". It starts, naturally, with a mighty piece of throat clearing.

Wednesday 14 July 2010


Congregacion were a particularly hairy bunch of Chileans who released one album, "Viene", in 1972. They were led by one Antonio Smith, who within twelve months of its release had hopped over the border to Argentina after Pinochet toppled Allende (I may be maligning him but I'm guessing the General wasn't mad keen on hippies). Antonio carried on working in Argentina, releasing an album with the group Sol in 1974 and one in his own name the year after, which you can download from En Busca Del Tiempo Perdido. He apparently remains a legendary figure among the older and fartier variety of Chilean music fans.

"Viene" itself is a fairly typical folk-rock album of the early 1970s - very mellow (a bit too mellow at times), nice harmonies - with a bit of flute and percussion thrown in every now and then to remind you they are from Latin America. Maybe one for all you Fleet Foxes fans out there, he says in a pathetic attempt to appear "relevant".

"El Dulce Espiritu De La Soledad/ Ama La Muerte Hermano" - Congregacion

"Atrapados Por Un Pensamiento" - Congregacion

According to Babelfish the titles translate roughly as "The Sweet Spirit of Solitude/ Love of Brother Death" and "Caught by a Thought" respectively, but I am sure you can improve on that.

Now as it happens there was an English group with a virtually identical name knocking around at the same time. Here they are with their mega-hit from 1971.

PS Rather than wasting any more time here, get yourselves back over to En Busca Del Tiempo Perdido for some Bolivian psychedelia.

Tuesday 13 July 2010


One of the job lot of West African CDs I picked up in Paris in May is titled "Black Roger's Haute Dimension". At first I assumed this was the name of the band and that Roger had put his name on the front to distinguish it from other, bootleg versions of Haute Dimension - a bit like Brian Connolly's Sweet, for example.

But it turns out that "Haute Dimension" is the name of the album, and the man responsible is not Black Roger but Black Roger's. I cannot explain the extraneous apostrophe. As well as Roger's himself the sleeve notes list all the other musicians etc, but not one of them turns up on Google so apart from the fact that it was made in Cameroon I can tell you nothing more about it.

The album is mostly a mixture of zouk and makossa and, while nothing special, it is pleasant enough. One track that stands out stylistically is "Danser Avec Toi", which sounds as if it could have been recorded in Louisiana. Here it is with one of the zouk numbers.

"Danser Avec Toi" - Black Roger's

"Onana Embole" - Black Roger's

Here are a couple of bonus Rogers:

"New Tide" - Roger Wootton (1974)

"American Girl" - Roger McGuinn (1977)

And we finish with the greatest Roger of them all.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Rickie Lee Live

On Friday I went to the Union Chapel in Islington to see Rickie Lee Jones in concert. I last saw her about twenty years ago at the Dominion Theatre and on that occasion she gave the distinct impression that she really didn't want to be there. That certainly wasn't the case on Friday. We got two hours and fifteen minutes and she only stoppped then because she was told she had to (they have a curfew at the venue).

Another difference was that while at the Dominion she hid behind the piano for the whole show, this time round she mainly played guitar - although with a few numbers at the piano and a brief stint behind the drums for "Satellites". Accompanied by Joey Maramba on bass and effects and Wyatt Stone on just about everything else, there was a loose feel to the music which really suits her style. And she was in great voice.

I'm not sure any Rickie Lee agnostics would have been converted on Friday, but for a long time fan like me it was a great experience. We were treated to some selections from all of her albums apart from "Ghostyhead" and the two albums of cover versions. Many of them were old favourites I hadn't been expecting, and at least some of them came as a surprise to the two lads as well. Frequently Wyatt Stone would have to linger tentatively waiting to hear what Rickie Lee was going to launch into next before heading off to whatever instrument was required.

There were too many highlights to list them all, but there was one particularly good sequence that kicked off with "Living It Up", which started off fairly faithful to the original but halfway through turned into a banging dance track with the introduction of a heavy drum loop. It was followed by "His Jeweled Floor" (from last year's "Balm In Gilead"), which begun almost as a gospel number and ended as a mad noise freak-out. And then Rickie slowed it all down with a lovely version of "Bonfires" (also from "Balm In Gilead") which was just her and her guitar.

Here are two of three originals:

"Living It Up" - Rickie Lee Jones (from "Pirates", 1981)

"Bonfires" - Rickie Lee Jones (from "Balm In Gilead", 2009)

And here are a couple of personal favourites that she didn't do:

"Love Junkyard" - Rickie Lee Jones (from "Pop Pop", 1991)

"Beat Angels" - Rickie Lee Jones (from "Traffic FromAdd Image Paradise", 1993)

Here are a couple of photos I took at the gig (not the greatest quality, apologies):

And, to finish off, here is a vintage clip of the girl in action:

Friday 9 July 2010

Guess Who's Going On Top Of The Pops

This message is directed to our UK readers. As you may already be aware, there is a campaign underway to make the late, lamented Frank Sidebottom a posthumous pop star by getting as many people as possible to download "Guess Who's Been On Match Of The Day" this week. If everyone who ever loved him does so then he is bound to be in the charts. Do it! Then tell your friends.

Actually, the rest of you should do it as well. I know we have one or two regular readers in Ghana, for example, and it would be great to think of the good people of Accra grooving to the sound of "The Robbins Aren't Bobbins".

You can download it from iTunes and Amazon.

Here is the one true star on his home patch:

Thursday 8 July 2010

Fun Time With Fode

Today we bring you some sparkling African pop from Guinea courtesy of Fode Baro, the man who - according to Frank Bessem - single-handedly popularised the musical genre "afro-zouk-mandinque". I can't swear that is true, but I have no reason not to trust Frank, and I would defy you to name three other proponents.

Now that Tsonga Disco has broken through to the mainstream (well, sort of), maybe I should focus my efforts on bringing afro-zouk-mandinque to the masses instead. If it is all as good as Fode's stuff, it would be a labour of love. Here are a couple of corkers from his debut album, 1992's "Donsoke".

"N'Na" - Fode Baro

"Nkoro" - Fode Baro

Those of you who clicked through to Frank Bessem's site would not have needed to get beyond the first sentence to work out what today's clip was going to be. That sentence again: "Fode Baro was born in Kissidougou in the Kankan region of Guinea".

Wednesday 7 July 2010

It's Lou!

I recently picked up a copy of Lou Reed's 1984 album "New Sensations" as part of a job lot of very cheap CDs. The only track from it I had ever heard before was "I Love You Suzanne". Based on that I had no great expectations but I was pleasantly surprised. It is not exactly shaking the very foundations of rock, but it is not bad at all. Here are a couple of the better tracks.

"Fly Into The Sun" - Lou Reed

"My Friend George" - Lou Reed

Two years later, Lou was involved in probably the most ill-conceived duet since Don Estelle and Windsor Davies massacred "Whispering Grass" (see the clip in the previous post) - the remake of "Soul Man" with Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave fame). Lou has many fine qualities, but soul is not one of them. Sam presumably needed the money.

In case you were wondering whether it was as awful as you remember it being - it was. Here is the proof.

Monday 5 July 2010


I had a day trip to Brussels the other week and, in between meetings, managed to find 30 minutes to pop down to Musicanova and pick up a couple of African CDs.

Because of the former colonial connection there is a sizeable Congolose community in Brussels and this is reflected in Musicanova's stock. There are plenty of CDs from the big names - Franco, Zaiko Langa Langa, Sam Mangwana etc - but also plenty by lesser lights. Being an appalling music snob, I am naturally drawn to the latter. Whenever I go there it is inevitable that I will buy at least one CD by someone I have never heard of, the only question is which one will catch my eye and why.

On this occasion I chose "Tenue Correcte", the 1994 album by Gloria Tukhadio. The reason will be self-evident as soon as you see the cover:

What is going on there? Why the kilt? Why the step-ladder? And why is he called Gloria? Judging by the pose on the left, I can only assume it was an affectionate nickname inspired by his passing resemblance to the Melvyn Hayes character on "It Ain't Half Hot, Mum".

The music was never quite going to live up to that cover, but it is pretty good. As it should be with the pedigree of some of those involved. Gloria was formerly a singer with Papa Wemba's Viva La Musica band in the 1980s, and is backed by members of Viva La Musica on this album. On "Midi", Papa Wemba himself joins in the vocals while the legendary Papa Noel takes on the guitar duties. There is also an Abdoulaye Diabate on keyboards but I am assuming it is not the singer/guitarist from Mali of the same name.

Here are a couple of highlights:

"Midi" - Gloria Tukhadio

"Poison" - Gloria Tukhadio

For those of you whose cultural frame of reference failed you when I referred to the 1970s British sitcom "It Ain't Half Hot, Mum" - a laugh a minute potpourri of racial, sexual and class stereotypes - here are two of the stars with their Number One UK hit single from 1975 (no, really).

Sunday 4 July 2010

Singles Club - 12" Special

A return of our occasional series featuring assorted extracts from my singles collection. Today I have selected a few from my very limited number of 12" singles, almost all of which are either reggae, soca or 1980s soul. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what you are getting today.

Apologies for the jumps on a couple of these tracks.

"Galveston Bay" - Lonnie Hill (1984)

"Hot Hot Summer" - Johnny Osbourne (1987)

"Companero" - Mighty Gabby (1989)

"Hot Bubblers" - Sweetie Irie (1991)

And finally, the pick of the bunch:

"Can't Get Over Losing You" - Gregory Isaacs (Year Unknown)

Here's Gregory in action back in 1983:

Thursday 1 July 2010

Cash Covered

We're keeping it short and sweet today. Here are three mildly irregular covers of Johnny Cash songs from the 1960s.

"I Walk The Line" - Gary "U.S." Bonds

"Don't Take Your Guns To Town" - David Garrick

"Guess Things Happen This Way" - Terry Manning

And here is the man himself.